03 April 2013
Cheese of the month
Our Smoked Mozzarella is a favorite for many, and has quite an interesting story. It all began in the late 80s when the Rumiano Cheese purchased the "Landmark Cheese" (our raw cheese line) from RW Knudsen. When we obtained Landmark, it came with some packaging equipment, inventory and a metal box slightly larger than a refrigerator. Originally, the new equipment was used to smoke the Landmark brand raw cheddar until Jack Gibson (former Rumiano Cheese innovator and team leader) asked, why not smoke mozzarella? Little did they know it would begin to out-sell the smoked raw cheddar and the classic was born.
Since the new smoked mozzarella was selling at such a fast pace, it was decided that a full walk-in smoker needed to be built. Fortunately, there was an old empty room, walled in by thick concrete, which was turned into a smoker in the factory's cooler. This greatly improved the process's efficiency and yield. Today, the Rumiano Cheese factory in Willows has four "old fashioned" walk-in smokers to keep up with the high demand of the smoked mozzarella.
Throughout the twenty-something years we've been smoking mozzarella, the process has changed very little. Our smokers do not use artificial flavor or "liquid smoke", but real hickory chips. The hickory chips are used because they smolder all day, slowly producing a flavorful smoke. Smoked for up to 6 days, the cheese is hung via ham nets and hooks running horizontally in the rooms. This smoke creates a "smoke ring" on the cheese, similar to quality smoked meats. Hanging the loaves of mozzarella instead of lying them allows for even absorption of smoke while coating them with a nice brown-gold rind.
The use of real hickory chips, and the techniques of hanging the mozzarella, allow Rumiano Cheese to produce a true favorite among cheese fans alike. The smoky flavor with the classic stringiness of mozzarella combines for a great pizza cheese, or even the classic cheese and cracker combo. Whichever way you decide to eat this smoked mozzarella, we guarantee you'll enjoy it!