This cheddar cheese family member originates in the region of Naples, dating back to the Middle Ages. Its name, which literally means "horse cheese" is the subject of much speculation amongst cheese fans.
One theory is that the cheese was originally made of mare's milk, another is that it was simply named after Monte Cavallo in Italy where it was first made. Others speculate that the name comes from the ripening process in which the cheeses are paired and straddled over sticks, like packs on a horse.
Caciocavallo is immersed in hot water and worked by hand into a gourd-like shape before undergoing the cheddaring process. Made from cow's milk, it typically measures approximately 5 inches by 16 inches. It has a dark yellow exterior with an ivory interior and a smooth, firm texture.
Young cheeses have a mild taste somewhat similar to that of cheddar cheese, but as the cheese ages it takes on a saltier, stronger taste and is used as a hard grating cheese. Caciocavallo is a predecessor of the Italian cooking cheese provolone, but unlike provolone it is not always smoked and it typically has a lower fat content.
Caciocavallo has an unpronounced aroma and a fat content of 44%. It is recommended for consumption with red wine, bread, and fruits like apricots and pineapples.