Snapshots from Italy: Making Scamorza, Ricotta, and Caciocavallo at a Cheese Factory in Molise

[Photo: Carey Jones]

Editor's note: Carey spent time in Italy with the Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani, sponsored by the region of Molise.


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The region of Molise is speckled with mountaintop towns, and even the smaller among them are likely to have a cheese factory, or caseificio—where ricotta, mozzarella, and other cheeses are made. Many are small operations, a dozen employees at most, where raw cow's milk from the surrounding area is made into these unaged cheeses. Given that they're best consumed as fresh as possible, it's logical to have little production facilities just about everywhere: near the cows, near the people.

These factories often also make scamorza, a mild baseball-sized white cheese, and caciocavallo, a larger cheese with distinct aged character. Both appear all over this southern region of Italy, as part of antipasti plates and pasta dishes and just about anything else you can imagine.

What I love at these small operations—such as this one, the Caseificio Di Nucci in Agnone—is how close you feel to the process. Cheesemaking seems so simple when milk turns to curd turns to cheese in the same clean, white room.

Take a look through the slideshow to see how caciocavallo, scamorza, and more are made.