Italian Cheeses



The Families of Italian Cheeses
Given the huge variety of the products, a unique, general classification of the italian cheeses seems impossible. Different criteria, linked both to the characteristics of the cheese and to the techniques for its production, can be used to categorize them though. Let’s see what are the different parameters, that will allow each family to be combined with the others.


Which Milk ?

The most immediate way to distinguish between cheeses is surely related to the origin of the milk used.

Considering the types of milk which are mostly produced around the world, it is possible to identify 5 main families:

  • vaccini“, produced with cow milk
  • pecorini“, produced with sheep milk
  • caprini“, produced with goat milk
  • bufalini“, produced with buffalo milk
  • a latte misto“, produced with mixed milk


A Matter of Fat

Italian cheeses can also be classified based on their fat content, that is to say on the percentage of fat measured in the dry mass.

Here we go then with:

  • formaggi grassi” (fat cheeses), with a percentage of fat greater than 42 % (whole milk)
  • formaggi semigrassi” (semi-fat cheeses), with a percentage of fat varying between 20 % and 42 % (partially skimmed milk)
  • formaggi magri” (meager cheeses), with a percentage of fat of less than 20 %

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How Much Water ?

Based on the water content, it is distinguished between:

  • formaggi a pasta dura” (hard cheeses), containing less than 40 % of water
  • formaggi a pasta semidura” (semi-hard cheeses), containing between 40 % and 45 % of water
  • formaggi a pasta molle” (soft cheeses), containing between 45 % and 60 % of water 


How Is It Produced ?

If the production technology is considered, italian cheeses can be classified as:

  • a pasta cruda” (raw), where curd is not cooked
  • a pasta semi-cotta” (semi-cooked), where curd is cooked at a temperature of less than 48 °C
  • a pasta cotta” (cooked), where curd is cooked at a temperature between 48 and 56 °C
  • a pasta pressata” (pressed), where cheese forms are pressed (usually between 1 and 24 hours) to let the milk serum flow out before the crust is formed
  • a pasta filata” (threaded), where curd matures in the warm acid serum for several hours, and it’s then pulled by hand
  • erborinati” (blue cheeses), where blue or green veins develop either naturally or are purposedly created by punching the forms
  • a crosta fiorita” (“flowery” crust), where some white mold develops on the surface of the crust (typical of the soft cheeses)
  • a crosta lavata” (washed crust), where the crust is periodically washed with saline water



How Old Are You ?

The last classification of the italian cheeses is based on the seasoning period.

We then have:

  • formaggi freschi” (fresh cheeses), to be consumed within few days from their production
  • a maturazione breve” (short seasoning), to be consumed within a month
  • a maturazione media” (medium seasoning), to be consumed between 1 and 6 months from their production
  • a maturazione lenta” (long seasoning), can be preserved for more than 6 months