A finger in the spun paste

How mozzarella, scamorza, caciotta and caciocavallo come to life

Why does the Baptistry Dairy make other cheeses, as well as Mountain Parmigiano Reggiano? Because when you trust your milk quality and you love your job, you feel like facing something new. So Lorenzo Ferrari tried to put a finger…into spun paste! Our dairy’s mozzarella, scamorza, caciocavallo and caciotta are all spun paste cheeses.
The ingredients are the same and the making is alike, but the results are really different. This technique developed in Southern Italy, and is mainly based on a tricky balance of heat, dampness and skill.

Only milk, salt, rennet and lactic ferments

First, we pasteurize our mountain fresh milk, then we add lactic ferments and, half an hour later, the rennet. All done, we leave it to rest.
The milk coagulates, forming a white mass that is extracted from the liquid and crumbled by hand in pieces the size of a nut.

MozzarellaCagliataIt’s searing hot!
We pour on these pieces the left whey from the ricotta processing, steam-heated up to 90°C (just like froth on a cappuccino!).
We normally use hot water, but since whey has chemical characteristics more similar to those of cheese,  it doesn’t wash the taste away, and mozzarella results sweeter.
The hot liquid makes the thermophile ferments change. Curd melts into an even mass really elastic and malleable. You can stretch it out without breaking it. It’s spun paste.
In this basic way, with a few variations, are born fresh mozzarella, soft caciotta and scamorza and tasty caciocavallo.

Its name points out in what are skilled those who shape it. Actually, it comes from the verb “mozzare”, which describes the craftsman swift and refined gesture of taking some of the paste, shaping it as a sphere and then “breaking” it. In this way the white cheese is born, one mozzarella after the other.
Mozzarella is at once dipped in the preserving fluid: a solution of water, salt and natural whey starter – the same used with Parmigiano Reggiano – which provides the acid part fit for preservation. Here, mozzarella is left to soak till it’s time to eat it.

MozzarellaSgranaturaFresh, freshest... indeed warm
Nowadays we enjoy it cold, right from the fridge, but at first mozzarella was meant to be eaten hot, just ready, or at room temperature. So, it should be removed from the fridge in advance, to enjoy its taste better.

Is the expiration due? Use it as pizza topping!
If you want to make pizza, you can even use mozzarella not freshly made ( although well-preserved), because it will melt perfectly on the top (we say it is “stracchinata”). Of course, if mozzarella is really fresh, you will taste milk more; nevertheless, it will be more compact and more suitable for raw preparations.

Caciotta & scamorza

The spun paste must retain some water for mozzarella to be good and soft, while, as much as other cheeses are concerned, a little dampness must be removed.
Therefore, curd is cooked again and left to rest. Then the “spinning” will begin.
The final product is drier and it may undergo a longer or shorter maturation.
Caciotta is a “young” cheese that may be enjoyed after a fortnight maturation, scamorza undergoes a bit longer maturation instead and it may be smoked with scented wood.

As  the story goes, it has this peculiar name because some travellers – who were riding on horseback with calfskins full of milk-, in need of drinking it, found it had become cheese, because of the heat, the jerks and the stuff in the skin.
 Probably the name comes from its shape instead, perfect to be tied and carried on an animal back, or from the fact it matured on “horseback”, so that on a stick.

Anyway, it’s a long lasting cheese and in fact the recooking stage is a little longer, in order to remove more dampness and to make preservation easy.


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