Say cheese!

Vito Minaoia Handcrafting Treccine

Cheese is such a beloved ingredient in and out of baking that it might as well be its own food group. There is a true art to making a range of different cheeses, especially those produced in a traditional way. This is something that the folks at Vannella Cheese in New South Wales know all about. Baking Business had a chat with Anthony Silvio from the team there to learn all about what goes into making their cheeses.

Can you tell us a little bit about the background of Vannella Cheese?
Vannella Cheese originated in Conversano, Puglia, a little town in the south of Italy. Vito Minoia, the head cheesemaker at Vannella, was born 15km down the road. At 16, Vito began an apprenticeship learning how to hand stretch curds for Burrata and Stracciatella. Back then, everything was done by hand. Over the following years, Vito worked in some of Italy’s best cheese factories, returning to Conversano to marry Pina, and later to open their business. Eventually, their children Annarita and Giuseppe were born. In 2004, the family moved to Australia, bringing their business with them.
To this day, the Vannella business remains a true family-run business, with Vito mentoring generations of cheesemakers to come. His son Giuseppe and granddaughter Martina now work alongside him in production each day producing a variety of fresh, stretched curd cheeses that sing the traditions of their birthplace.

How many different varieties of cheese do you guys produce?
We produce a variety of cheeses made from cow or buffalo milk. Most of our range falls under the category of ‘stretched curd’, which encapsulates all your traditional varieties of mozzarella, including burrata, buffalo mozzarella, scamorza, and bocconcini. Over the last 20 years living in Australia, the family has learned about many different dairy products from the multicultural people they have met in the country, now evolving their range to include creamy Persian feta, stretchy Oaxaca cheese, pot-set buffalo yogurt, and more.

Where do you source your milk from?
We are dedicated to sourcing local Australian milk because we believe we have the best dairy in the world! Our milk and cream come from happy, grass-fed cows and buffalo, fresh from the farms. For cow’s milk, we are working with a farmer in the Riverina area, and for buffalo, we source from Kerang in northern VIC where a farmer is caring for a herd of pure-breed Italian Riverine buffalo.

What facilities do you use to produce your cheese?
Our factory, based in Marrickville NSW, is home to some state-of-the-art machinery from Italy to aid our production processes. This includes temperature-controlled milk vats, to pasteurisation, fermentation tanks, stretching machines, and more.
Even still, we maintain our stance on producing by hand as much as we can, like the burrata that we handcraft the same way Vito did when he began his journey. Over the last few years, we have focused on how to scale our production to keep up with the demand. We believe we have the right balance of machinery aid and traditional handcrafting methods that allows us to produce product of an artisan quality at high volumes.

You guys are known for the traditional Italian methods that you use to produce your cheeses, what does this involve?
Our burrata is a wonderful example of this. To make it, we must first make the oozy filling which is called stracciatella. Long sheets of hot mozzarella called sfilacci are bathed in a cold water bath to set. At this point, we pull the cheese apart to form fine, stringy rags. We cut these pieces up further and then mix them with pure fresh cream. This sits in our cool room overnight to rest as the stringy mozzarella is allowed the time to soak up the cream. The following day, we stretch some curd over the hand like a thin disc and drop a precise portion of the stracciatella in the centre. The stracciatella is then enclosed, and the cheesemakers tie the burrata with its signature knot, the same way they have been made for over 500 years.

Can you tell us a little bit about some of your particular varieties of cheese?
You will find our products being used in some of the most acclaimed restaurants and bakeries across the country. Our traditional ricotta is made from whey, so it holds well in savoury pastries and pies without becoming soggy. Our naturally smoked scamorza is also ideal for bakeries that want to take their scrolls to the next level, with its low moisture content it works wonders and melts a dream! For venues on the pizza romana bandwagon, our fresh buffalo mozzarella and stracciatella are delicious and eye-catching ways to finish off each slice.

Click here to upload your own recipe


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.