Italian law defines cheese (or cacio) as the product obtained from whole milk, partially or totally skimmed, through a coagulation process sour or due to addition of rennet (rennet), a substance obtained from the fourth stomach of suckling calves (the abomasum) or, more rarely, from that of lambs and kids.

Coagulation sour it is caused by bacteria, lactobacilli already present in milk or, possibly, added; by adding rennet to the milk, on the other hand, coagulation occurs rennet.

The chemical composition of the cheese reflects that of the starting milk (sheep, goat, cow, buffalo), in particular with regard to the fat and protein content:



Protein (g)

Lactose (g)

Lipids (g)

Water (g)































From the data it is evident that the cheese deriving from sheep's milk, for example, is very substantial in terms of nutrition (due to its very high protein and fat content) but also more caloric than cheese obtained from cow's milk (cow). .



Cheeses can be classified on the basis of the milk used, the fat content, the consistency of the paste, the type of rind they are made of and the maturing process they undergo during production in dairies.

Classification based on the type of milk used

  • cow's milk cheeses, of cow's milk
  • pecorino cheeses, of sheep's milk
  • goat cheeses, of goat's milk
  • buffalo cheeses, of buffalo milk
  • mixed cheeses, when they are made with milk type mixtures

Classification based on fat content (on dry matter, i.e. the product without water)

  • fatty cheeses, fat on dry matter greater than 42%
  • semi-fat cheeses, fat on dry matter from 20 to 42%
  • low-fat cheeses, fat on dry matter less than 20%

Classification based on the treatment to which the pasta is subjected

  • raw cheeses, (crescenza, gorgonzola, taleggio)
  • semi-raw cheeses, (fontina, asiago, provolone)
  • cooked paste cheeses, (parmesan, parmesan, emmenthal)
  • stretched curd cheeses, (mozzarella, provolone)

For pasta we mean the whole part of the cheese excluding the rind. The consistency of the pasta varies according to the quantity of water it contains and the seasoning period to which it is subjected. The classification by cooking of the pasta takes into account the type of thermal process that the curd has undergone.

Classification based on the consistency of the dough

  • cheeses hard paste (grana), which are thrown when cut
  • cheeses semi-hard paste (fontina), which can be cut neatly with a knife without falling apart
  • cheeses soft paste (crescenza), which cannot be cut cleanly and dirty the knife

The different consistency is due to the different amount of water. Soft cheeses, also called fresh cheeses, have a high quantity of water.

Classification based on the seasoning period

  • fresh cheeses, when they do not undergo aging and are consumed within a few days of production (mozzarella, bel Paese, white cheeses)
  • short-matured aged cheeses, when the seasoning does not exceed 20-40 days (crescenza, taleggio)
  • medium ripening aged cheeses, when the seasoning does not exceed 6 months (fontina, gorgonzola, pressed cheeses)
  • slow ripening aged cheeses, when the seasoning lasts more than 6 months (Parmesan, Emmentaler)
  • blue cheeses, cheeses in which a food mold produces the characteristic green veins and patches during maturation in cool and humid environments
  • stretched curd cheeses, are characterized by a spinning of the curd in boiling water
Consumption frequency

Consumption frequency

The guidelines of the Italian Society of Human Nutrition (SINU) recommend a consumption frequency for cheeses equal to 3 portions per week. One serving, for the adult population, corresponds on average to 100 grams for fresh cheeses (up to 25% fat and less than 300kcal / 100g) and about 50 grams for seasoned ones (more than 25% fat and more than 300kcal) / 100g).

The most frequent mistake is not to consider cheeses as a real second course but rather as an accompaniment to an already complete meal, which inevitably leads to an excess of calories introduced.

Nutritional indications

Nutritional indications

Cheese is certainly a food which, within a well-varied diet, brings many nutrients: proteins, lipids, vitamins and minerals.

Thanks to the richness in calcium and phosphorus, it can be recommended in the diet of growing people such as children or sportsmen, and individuals at risk of osteoporosis such as, for example, the elderly (to facilitate the achievement of the mineral requirements necessary for the health of the skeleton However, cheeses, especially if aged, should be consumed in moderation because they are quite caloric and with a moderate salt content.

A distinction must be made between cheeses fresh And seasoned: i freshthey fit better within a controlled diet plan as they provide nutrients without being too high in calories or too rich in salt.

The cheeses seasoned on the other hand, they require greater attention as, following the seasoning period and the relative loss of water, they become richer in calories and salt. This does not mean that they should be eliminated completely, but it is certainly a good idea to limit the frequency of consumption, especially in the diet of people with:

  • overweight, due to the remarkable concentration of lipids and calories
  • hypercholesterolemia, due to the massive presence of cholesterol and saturated fat
  • hypertension, due to the salt content
  • metabolic syndrome, for all the reasons mentioned above



Cappelli P, Vannucchi V. Food chemistry. Conservation and transformation. Zanichelli, 2005

Council for Agricultural Research and Analysis of the Agricultural Economy (CREA). Guidelines for healthy Italian nutrition 2018

Council for Agricultural Research and Analysis of the Agricultural Economy (CREA). Food composition tables

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