[Sca-cooks] Mozzarella cheese

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Mon Jun 2 20:45:52 PDT 2008

Alys Katharine asked:
<<< Which mozzarella would you choose?  The fresh one (which is easy  
to get
here) or the regular pizza-type mozzarella?  And, another question: Is
mozzarella a modern cheese?  Would it have been found in England in the
1400s? >>>

It looks like it is period, but I'm not sure of 1400s England. The  
following is from the cheese-msg file in the Florilegium. I'm going  
to go ahead and quote the entire message since it also touches on the  
fresh/soft cheese question. Okay, see the last quote from a message  
from Mistress Eibhlin, it looks like mozzarella would be an unlikely  
export to England.
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2003 20:38:58 -0700 (PDT)
From: Louise Smithson <helewyse at yahoo.com>
Subject: [Sca-cooks] Re: Period Cheese... again?
To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

I am a bit skeptical, perhaps unfairly. Anyone have a good idea of
what types of cheese are really period, please critic the list below,
copied from the link above...




This list includes cheeses that were known during the Middle Ages &
Renaissance, along with some 17th century varieties and a few modern
cheeses that are acceptable period substitutes.

I can only comment on the Italian ones. This excerpt
is taken from Scappi and lists several cheese
varieties.  Those that are fresh (i.e. soft cheeses)
and are given as to the area they come from or the
hard cheeses.

First book page 6.  To understand the goodness of all
the cheeses, many fresh, some salted and how to
conserve them Chapter 8
Look for fresh cheeses, you want those made with fat
(creamy) milk, and those that do not have an aspect of
being salted for more than a day, because they will
become too strong.  I affirm that my experience is
true, that those that are made in Tuscany, that one
demands for the ravioli, should be made of the richest
milk, and are always the most tender and moderately
salted.  But that cheese, which in Milan, is called
fat cheese, and that is carried to German lands in the
rind of trees (tree bark), its goodness is when it is
moderately salted, and many times it will have an
erratic odor.  Many of the other salted cheese, like
Parmiggiano, and that of the Riviera and marzolini,
one finds they are the best when they are made
originally in March and all of June, and when one cuts
them they yield a perfect odor with some tears; but
other cheeses that are carried to Rome from the
Kingdom of Naples are made in a different fashion, one
calls these horse cheese (cacio cavallo is still a
Southern Italian cheese), and they are not as good as
Parmiggiano.  It is true that when they are fresh they
are fat, and they are in their goodness, that the
fresh provatura*, especially the provatura Marzoline
is much better when fresh than salted.  But these
cheese by us called “Sardesco” (sardinian), should be
hard, and white on the inside, even though by nature
they are black, and if you want to save (keep, store)
these said cheeses, you need to oil them, and look at
them frequently, excepting the “Sardesco”.
* Provatura is actually buffalo milk cheese aka
Taken from: Scappi, B. (1570). Opera dell'arte del
cucinare. Bologna, Arnaldo Forni

 > Didn't they originally make mozzarella from Buffalo milk?
 > Micaylah

According to several sources mozzarella was originally produced near  
from buffalo milk.  Modernly, most mozzarella is made from cows milk
although it is possible to buy mozzarella di bufala.  Provatura seems to
denote cheese made strictly from buffalo milk.  Both mozzarella and
provatura are soft cheese which are delivered packed in their whey.  The
rubbery mozzarella common to the US would be considered very poor  
quality in

I haven't found a description of the manufacture of provatura, so I  
have a feel for how similar the cheeses are in production.


In Elizabethan England trade was quite heavy with the
Dutch, and the dutch make great trading cheeses.  You
would see gouda's, emmental's, maybe an Edam or two,
and possibly some muenster coming off the boats.
There would be some cheeses coming in from Italy as
well, primarily a few parmeseans (which were designed
for local use and export) and maybe some aged
pecorino's - probably of Sardinian lineage.  No Fresh
cheeses would be making the trip, their life
expectancy is too short for anything outside of their
local area.  That means no mozzarella except for some
limited areas of Italy.

Mistress Eibhlin, cheesemaking

THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
    Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas           
StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****

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