This soft, oozing cheese is not always easy to find in cheese shops. It's officially called Stracchino di Crescenza, but often just Crescenza for short.
Crescenza is a soft Italian cow's milk cheese with a very thin, soft natural rind (encouraged by a short bath in brine). Crescenza has a tart, fruity, fresh flavor.
Who Makes Crescenza?
Stracchino di Crescenza (strah-KEE-noh dee kreh-SHEN-zha) was first made in the Italian region of Lombardy, specifically in the Po Valley. "Stracca" means tired, a reference to the tired cows herded up and down the Alps who were milked to make Stracchino di Crescenza. It was thought that tired, well-exercised cows gave extra rich milk with a high butterfat content perfect for making Crescenza.
The cheese was traditionally made with raw milk but most versions now (especially in the US) are made with pasteurized milk.
Today, in addition to Italian producers, there are a handful of cheesemakers in the United states who make Crescenza. Among them are Bellwether Farms, BelGioioso and Mozzarella Company .
Crescenza can also be made at home: Crescenza recipe from Cultures for Health
What Does it Look Like?
Crescenza is made in slabs that vary in size and are usually square shaped. The cheese is 1 to 2 inches thick and has a very thin, cream-colored rind that hardly qualifies as a rind at all. It barely contains the oozing cheese. The paste of Crescenza is creamy and can be slightly rubbery.
Crescenza sold in stores is often vacuum-packed, as it's the only way to contain the soft cheese for shipping and/or distribution.
What Types of Cheese are Similar to Crescenza?Teleme and Taleggio
How Should I Eat it?
Crescenza can be spread on bread and served with salami or fresh fruit. The mild, slightly sour flavor also tastes good with fruit spreads and chutneys. Crescenza can be scooped onto warm polenta, used on pizza, or tossed with pasta. Stracchino di Crescenza pairs well with fruity white wine.