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What Is Friulano?

By Liz Thomas
Updated May 16, 2024
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Friulano is a hard, Canadian cheese made from cow's milk. This cheese has a mild flavor when young and a stronger, nutty flavor when aged. It has a pale yellow color with very small holes. It is commonly served as part of a cheese platter, as a snack, or grated on top of other foods. Friulano pairs well with several styles of wine due to the variation of flavors.

The name Friulano is Italian and refers to a specific Italian region, Friuli, located in the northeast of Italy. This cheese also goes by the name of Montasio or Furlano. It is sometimes referred to as Italian cheddar, though it in no way tastes or looks like traditional cheddar cheese.

This cheese is aged in large blocks, each of which has a yellow rind, which is sometimes removed before the block is sold. Its texture is quite firm and the cheese contains tiny holes. Cheese tasters describe this product as mild, though when Friulano ages, it develops a slight hazelnut flavor. Its characteristic firmness makes it a good choice for grating, and it is commonly sliced and used in sandwiches and snacks.

Friulano is made with the curd of cow's milk, which is washed and cooked at relatively low temperatures, at approximately 109°F (43°C). The curdling process is a fermentation caused by lactic bacteria. Sometimes an enzyme, lipase, is added to the process to produce more flavor.

Normally the cheese is produced in wheels and then aged for up to four months. Typically, this milder version is vacuum packed instead of cured. Mild versions are often served with crackers and fruit as part of a platter.

Longer aging, up to 18 months, is used for grating and for versions that are marked with a stronger flavor. During aging the cheese is washed and turned frequently, with the storage temperature held at 50°F (10°C). The ripened version may be oiled or waxed before packaging, though this depends on the producer.

Wine pairing recommendations with Friulano include Chardonnay and dry red wines. The woody and fruity tones found in Chardonnay from South Africa, California, or Australia are said to perfectly compliment this cheese. For those that prefer red wines, connoisseurs recommend Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan varieties.

There are so many variations to this product that substitutions can often be used in recipes. Gruyere or mozzarella can be substituted for the mild version. On a platter dish, emmental, oka, or cantonnier can be used instead. For the very strong aged versions, emite or miranda are close substitutes.

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