Here’s a quick question for you. When you purchase powdered parmesan cheese, how much of that product is actually from a dairy product?
Let’s take a look at a standard, mass-marketed product that is found on grocery shelves around the world. When you purchase an eight-ounce shaker, it tells you that you’re getting something made from part-skim milk, whey, water, and milk protein concentrate.
Then you take a look at the ingredient list. You’ll find cellulose powder and potassium sorbate. It isn’t 100% cheese.
What is cellulose powder? It is wood pulp.
Don’t allow yourself to get fooled by the idea that cheap Italian cheese needs fillers or preservatives to reach your budgetary needs. When you know where and how to shop for these tasty treats, you’ll never settle for non-authentic items ever again.
You can even make some of these cheese varieties at home.
Best Italian Cheeses to Know Outside of Parmesan
Several affordable Italian kinds of cheese are found in the delicatessen section of your local grocery store. If you don’t have a deli, the next spot to discover it is near the dairy section.
Some grocers are adding cheese displays because getting a fresh block crafted from love is one of the best culinary experiences in the world.
Many families avoid this section because the perception is that Italian cheese is expensive. Here’s a quick lesson. You’ll pay almost as much for the powdered stuff as you would for something authentic.
Check the prices. It can sometimes cost less to buy real cheese than it is to purchase a product with wood pulp and preservatives.
Everyone knows about parmesan because it is a staple on spaghetti and in some Italian sauces. When you start shopping in the cheese section at the store, try getting to know these budget-friendly options.
The aged variety provides a potent flavor, aged for over one year with blue mold to create an enjoyable culinary adventure. Putting crumbles onto a salad is a fantastic experience! If you prefer something milder, take the dolce option if it is available.
You can also make this cheese at home with starter cultures, a little mold, and some patience. The original version got the mold from the damp caves where farmers stored it for aging, and the best varieties still use that method.
It only takes about six weeks to create this cheap Italian cheese. When you unwrap it for the first time, the smell is going to make you step back for a moment. Once you get past the first impression, the flavor profile is nutty, balanced, and a little salty. It turns a little gooey at room temperature, making it the perfect spread for crusty bread.
This Italian cheese originates in the south near Basilicata. It comes in several styles and shapes, with aging ranging from a couple of months to several years. When you can keep it in a cheese cave longer, the flavor becomes more intense. Smoking the cheese enhances that profile.
You can make simple provolone at home. After making a 30-minute Mozzarella, rub it down with oil and brine. Wrap it in a rope, hanging it to dry and harden in a cool area. It transforms in a couple of weeks into a salty, simple cheese that destroys anything you’d buy at the store.
The Vecchio option of this cheese takes about a year to create. Fresco options are ready in a few weeks. It provides a mild flavor that never gets sharp, even when it gets older. If you like to snack on cheese, this option is affordable and tasty. You can also use it as a parmesan substitute if you wish.
5. Robiola Piemonte
This fresh cheese takes about a week to create. It’s one of the few Italian options that work well with cow, goat, or sheep milk. If you buy a robiola Rochette, that means the recipe used the milk from all three animals. It is surprisingly dense, quite tangy, with a touch of sweetness. It doesn’t form a rind during its aging period, although it can get a little sour if it sits for too long
6. Fontina d’Aosta
You need a minimum of three months to produce this cheap Italian cheese. It’s similar in texture to gruyere, made from the fresh milk from a single parlor session. Pairing it with truffles makes you feel like you’re having a luxurious experience, although most families use it to create fondue. It’s excellent in a panini or mixed with herbs to create a cheese sauce.
7. Pecorino Toscano
This cheap Italian cheese can take more than a year to find the right flavor profile. It gets made from sheep milk in the Tuscany region, with farmers from Prato to Siena following family recipes. It is a little oily compared to other varieties, although the butterfat it contains still makes it melt in your mouth. You’ll experience tones of olive and walnuts in each bite.
Cheap Italian cheese varieties offer culinary flavor explosions that don’t always come through from mass-produced items. Find an imported block or make your own to experience these incredible choices.