What is stretched curd cheese?
Often called ‘spun curd’ or ‘string cheese’, the traditional Italian name is “pasta filata”. Curds are heated in water at 70°C-80°C until elastic, then kneaded and pulled into threads. Each stretched curd cheese type is measured by the amount of moisture in the cheese, its size and shape, and the conditions in which it’s aged.
Some of these cheeses may also fall into the fresh or semi-cooked cheese categories.
Provolone is one stretched curd cheese that is matured. Caciocavallo is a stretched curd cheese that is prepared in the same way as provolone, but cured for a short time. The shape of these cheeses differentiates the two types.
Stretched curd cheese styles come in many forms.
Types of stretched curd cheese
Originally made from buffalo milk, today bocconcini is mostly made with cows' milk. Bocconcini is fresh mozzarella moulded into egg or cherry-sized shapes, and has a relatively short shelf life. It's stored in water or a light brine solution, with a shiny surface and semi-soft, elastic texture. It has a mild, milky and slightly sweet taste like fresh sweet cream.
Relatively new to Australia, burrata comprises fine, fresh mozzarella skin filled with shredded curds and fresh cream, then tied in a money bag shape. It has a creamy, oozy centre with a mild, creamy flavour. It should be kept refrigerated in its original liquid, then consumed in 1-2 days after opening.
Haloumi is made by kneading curd to release whey, rolling it out like pastry, cutting it into blocks then storing in brine. A white cheese with a rubbery, fibrous texture, Haloumi can be fried or grilled, and is fairly salty. It should be stored fully immersed in brine, and used within two weeks of purchasing.
The first stretched curd cheese, mozzarella is known for its melting properties and has a semi-soft elastic body, a smooth close texture and is usually produced in a pear, ball or loaf shape. Traditional kinds are sold as a soft, white ball in water but in Australia is often sold as a firmer, longer-lasting cheese with less moisture and a pale yellow colour. It has a mild, sightly sweet taste while the loaf variety is drier with a mild buttery flavour. It should be refrigerated due to its short shelf life, and kept in water.