What this is: The story of cheese curd that likes to be stretched to its limits.
Who it’s for: For those who love everything from burrata to Italian subs.
The technical name for this cheese in the cheese maker world is pasta filata, which means “spun paste” in Italian. It is an interesting category that includes both burrata, which bursts with creaminess, and the deli favorite provolone.
The stretchy&chewy Cheese Type
These cheeses have a unique texture that may seem more “processed” than other cheeses, and that’s because they are. After being cut into curds, they are drained of excess whey and then placed in warm water and stretched like taffy (thus the reason the Italians call them “spun paste” cheeses). This gives these cheeses a bouncy, stretchy texture that’s perfect for melting or pulling apart (like on pizza, for example).
While many of the well-known cheeses in this type are best eaten as soon as possible after they’re made (mozzarella, burrata), there are other cheeses in this type that can be smoked and aged, too, such as a scamorza and aged Provolone. This is one of the few cheese types that’s accessible to try and make at home—there are many kits you can buy online to make your own mozzarella, or you can look for a local cheese store and see if they have classes for how to make it.
Cheeses in this category include:
Like most cheese categories, you will discover cheese from all four milk types here. In general, you can use this guide to help you find a milk type you like (or ask your favorite monger for a taste!)
- Sheep's milk is Saltier
- Cow's milk is Creamier
- Goat's milk is Tangier
- Buffalo milk is Fattier/Creamier
You’re most likely to get cow and buffalo milk in this category, while goat’s and sheep’s versions are less common—but never say never!
When you’re categorizing fresh milky burrata and provolone together, as you do with stretchy&chewy cheeses, you know it’s a category that has a large range. The flavors will have a range as well, from really bright and lactic (milky) to a smooth and sour/tangy of Provolone.
Favorite Flavor Profiles
The stretchy&chewy category pairs very well with the Salty, Spicy and Umami flavor profiles. A good rule of thumb in this category is that the fresher the cheese, the more you should pair with fresh and bright flavors. So while charcuterie of all types pairs well with all stretchy&chewy cheeses (that covers the salty and umami flavor profiles), burrata will love fresh tomatoes or grilled peaches and some balsamic vinegar and a little salt, while provolone is happy with some Italian meats and some cherry peppers on a beautiful roll.
Favorite Wine Profiles
We suggest the following types of wine:
- Dry white
- Light red
Our wine suggestions are simple here, but because this cheese is so versatile you really want to consider your wine with the food pairings as well, which could really change the whole outlook of your tasting.
How to Shop for stretchy&chewy Cheese
If you’re looking for mozzarella, first look for a place that makes it fresh, if possible. Next bet is to buy the tubs. Then, a vacuumed pack one. If you’re looking for other good stretchy&chewy cheeses, you might be best to head for an Italian market or a grocery store in an area that has a lot of Italian customers, as they will be more likely to stock the cheese that the customers are requesting (i.e., the good stuff).
On a Cheese Plate
Mozzarella and Burrata can actually handle a cheese plate on their own, but the category in general definitely benefits from being put on a cheese and charcuterie board with fun stuffed cherry peppers, olives and pickled giardina (vegetables.)
Cheese board to sandwich transformation time! Design your own stretchy&chewy focused cheese board: what cheeses would you put on it? What would you pair it with? Remember to think of fresh produce, too. Now, how would you turn that cheese board into a beautiful submarine or hoagie? Extra credit if you actually build the board and the sandwich.
Click the icons to download a pdf of this lesson and our two handy guides: How Cheese is Made and Cheese and Pairing Types.