September is National Italian Cheese Month and we’re celebrating with the crowning glories of the pizza-topping world: mozzarella and ricotta! Did you know that cheese production has very ancient roots? Yogurt and cheese were daily sustenance for ancient nomadic tribes and evidence of this can be traced back to 6,000-7,000 BCE. Even Greek and Roman mythology devoted elaborate stories to the art of cheese-making which the ancient Egyptians had perfected by 3500 BCE.
Today there are more than 1,400 classified types of cheese in the world, approximately 480 of which are Italian. 300 of these cheeses have protected status of origin such as DOP, IGP, and PAT designations. Two of the most widely used and appreciated in both restaurants and homes around the globe are mozzarella and ricotta. Despite their Italian names, they have become so commonplace in global kitchens that there’s no longer a need to use the word “cheese” after their names, because international consumers are already familiar with them. Like other genuine products, the quality of cheese, the way it is made, the ingredients used (as well as those not used), maturation time, the transformation process, and storage, all play a role in its overall taste, texture, and health benefits. Grande Cheese has always been a prominent partner to Pizza University, and we are proud to use their products in our classes and recipes. Grande representatives regularly conduct workshops during our Pizzaiolo Training Courses so that emerging pizza-makers can learn what goes in to making high-quality cheese, which cheeses work best for topping pizza, as well as other useful information about cheese.
Some unique features of Grande Cheese include:
- Grande only works with local family farms because they’re passionate about monitoring milk quality and take immense pride in the treatment of their cows. Their producers invest in sustainable solutions for herd health and are environmentally responsible.
- Their milk is collected daily from cows at dedicated Grande producer dairy farms that have committed to their Producers Assuring Consumers of Excellence (PACE) program to ensure quality, animal well-being and environmental best practices are in place as well as proper employee management and labor practices. After milking, it is quick cooled and taken directly to their nearby state-of-the-art facilities, where cheese artisans craft it to bring out that great Grande taste.
- Their cheeses are made from only the freshest, all natural ingredients.
- Consistency of flavor, yield, melt in any oven type means you know that you get the best result each and every time so you can focus on creating great food and a successful business.
High quality mozzarella can make or break your pizza. Grande Mozzarella has a rich, distinct, buttery flavor, which is what makes it the first choice for every classic Italian recipe. Regarded by the foodservice industry to be best in class, on its own or when added to your signature recipe, it delivers exceptional consistency, melt, and taste that brings out the great flavors in your food. Their cheese melts evenly with consistent yield and has excellent stretch and tender mouth feel. Grande’s Mozzarella does not burn or oil off and allows for fuller pie coverage, so you use less of it, and it also reheats well. Impressively, mozzarella from Grande is free of preservatives, fillers and artificial ingredients, unlike other products on the market in the United States which use titanium dioxide and other substances to maintain their white color.
Evidence of ricotta cheese dates back to the Roman empire where it was produced not only in Modern day Italy, but throughout the Mediterranean region as well. Grande Ricotta (literally translated “re-cooked”) is made from the freshest, purest ingredients, including sweet whey, whole milk, and sweet cream, bringing to mind the traditional cheeses of the Italian countryside.
One of the features that we appreciate most, is that Grande has taken the time to offer various styles of ricotta for different applications, just like those that are available in Italy. Grande’s four styles, each with its own unique flavor and texture are perfectly suited to the diverse needs of an authentic Italian menu. The delicate curds of Grande’s Ricotta Prima Dolce® are light, fresh and sweet, reminiscent of the traditional hand-dipped ricotta made in the Italian countryside. Delivered in the original basket of collection, the quality of curd is preserved, providing a smoother, creamier texture for those looking for an authentic ricotta experience. Grande Ricotta Sopraffina® has a smooth texture and clean, light dairy flavor. Its distinctive fine texture gives an exceptionally smooth feel to ravioli, calzones and other classic Italian dishes, and blends well with herbs and grated cheeses. Sopraffina® is as ideal for cooking as it is for baking.
The delicious tender curd style of Grande Ricotta Tenera® delivers a smooth, easy-to-spread texture. This makes it ideal for white pizzas and spreading on your favorite sandwiches. It’s perfect for foods where a fuller taste and more defined textures are desired. Traditional to its core, the impastata-style Grande Ricotta Del Pastaio® is the perfect style for bakers and pasta makers. It’s a slightly drier Ricotta with a very smooth, dense texture, making it ideal for mixing with your other quality ingredients when making cannoli, pastas and most baked dishes.
In addition to elevating your existing menu items to new heights, high quality Italian cheeses can easily become the stars of new dishes. Everything from appetizers to pasta and gnocchi dishes, to vegetarian options and delightful desserts give cheese an opportunity to shine. While Italian Cheese Month is a great excuse to enjoy our favorite foods a little bit more than usual, we will continue to celebrate Grande and their amazing products all year long!