Kosher-observant Jews with a hankering for some pizza or lasagna have until now had to settle for American and Canadian brands of the soft cheese. But an Italian facility has now become certified, meaning the kosher cheese will be available from its home country.
The cheese will come from a family dairy in Italy thanks to the efforts of Italian Chabad Rabbi Ronnie Canarutto, and the kashering body Beth Din of Manchester, UK.
“This is a family who do not normally tell their secrets which is key to the cheese’s quality,” Canarutto told Jonathan Kalmus of the Jewish Chronicle. “The difficulty lay in the family understanding why we needed to inspect everything, but they were willing once they understood the logic of kosher food production.”
Hard cheeses (which actually includes the elastic mozzarella) are more difficult to produce kosher, because they are made with an enzyme called rennet, which is often derived from animals. For complicated halachic reasons, this would actually be okay if the animals were slaughtered in a kosher fashion–but most in a commercial setting are not.
Soft cheeses, like cream cheese and cottage cheese, are usually made with bacterial cultures, and are therefore easier to produce kosher.
There are also some prohibitions against eating cheese made by non-Jews.