A picturesque region located in southern Italy, Puglia boasts a rich cheese-making tradition that has been honed over centuries.
Puglia’s cheese heritage is deeply intertwined with its agricultural landscape, which features fertile plains, olive groves, and grazing pastures. This combination of abundant natural resources and a dedication to traditional cheese-making techniques has led to the production of some exceptional cheeses that are celebrated both locally and internationally.
The cheeses of Puglia are often characterized by their simplicity, authenticity, and high-quality ingredients. The region’s cheese artisans take great pride in using locally sourced milk, whether it be from cows, sheep, or goats. This emphasis on local production ensures the freshness and unique flavors of Puglian cheeses.
One of the most renowned cheeses from Puglia is burrata. This delicacy, often considered a specialty of the region, is a true masterpiece of cheese-making.
Burrata is a creamy and delicate cheese that originated in the Apulia region. It is made from cow’s milk and is characterized by its outer shell of stretched mozzarella and a filling of stracciatella cheese ( shredded mozzarella) and cream. The result is a luscious and creamy cheese with a delicate texture that oozes when cut open. A delectable and luxurious treat. Burrata has gained international acclaim for its exquisite taste and has become a popular ingredient in various culinary creations.
2. Canestrato Pugliese:
Canestrato Pugliese is a traditional aged Puglia cheese made from sheep’s milk. It has a firm crumbly texture and a slightly sharp salty flavor. The cheese is typically aged for several months, during which it develops a distinctive taste. Canestrato Pugliese is often grated over pasta dishes, enjoyed as a table cheese or accompanied by cured meats and bread eaten with wine.
Caciocavallo is a semi-hard cheese made from cow’s milk. Well-regarded for its firm texture and distinctive flavor. Caciocavallo Podolico, made from the milk of Podolica cows, exhibits a nutty and complex taste that intensifies with age. It has a smooth and elastic texture with a slightly tangy flavor. Caciocavallo is traditionally shaped like a gourd and hung to age. It can be enjoyed on its own, grated over pasta, or melted in various dishes.
Ricotta is a popular cheese found throughout Italy, including Puglia. It is made from the whey left over from the production of other cheeses. Ricotta has a creamy and slightly sweet flavor. It is used in various Puglian dishes, such as pasticciotti (a traditional sweet pastry found all over Puglia especially in Lecce) and pasta fillings.
Pecorino is a family of cheeses made from sheep’s milk. In Puglia, you can find various types of pecorino, such as Pecorino di Grottaglie and Pecorino di Murgia. These cheeses have a firm and crumbly texture with a slightly sharp and nutty flavor. They are often enjoyed grated over pasta or served on cheese platters.
Stracciatella is a cheese specialty from the region of Andria in Puglia. It is made by mixing shreds of mozzarella curd with cream, resulting in a creamy, stringy texture. Stracciatella is commonly used as a filling for burrata or served alongside tomatoes and basil.
These are just a few examples of the popular cheeses you can find in Puglia. The region’s cheese production is diverse, and each cheese offers its own unique flavors and characteristics. Exploring local markets, cheese shops, and traditional Puglian cuisine is a great way to discover and savor these delightful cheeses.
Puglia’s cheese-making traditions are deeply rooted in the region’s culture and history. Many cheese producers in Puglia are small-scale, family-owned businesses that have passed down their cheese-making techniques from generation to generation. These artisans take great care in preserving the traditional methods, ensuring the continuation of authentic Puglian cheese.
Whether enjoyed as a standalone treat, melted into dishes, or used as a flavorful ingredient, Puglia’s cheeses captivate the taste buds with their unique profiles and regional charm. From the creamy indulgence of burrata to the robust flavors of aged cheeses, exploring Puglia’s cheese offerings is a delightful journey through its culinary heritage.
Join me in Puglia to taste of some these beautifully hand crafted cheeses.