a Special Cheese
Castelmagno DOP cheese, takes its illustrious origins and its name from the small commonality of Castelmagno, in the Cuneo province (Piedmont region) and close to the french border.
As you will certainly ;-) remember from the our italian cheeses page, it belongs to the family of the "erborinati" (blue) cheeses.
The production tradition of this cheese is really ancient: considering that its name makes one of its first appearances in a document from the XIII century in which it is mentioned as a form of payment as the "rent" for the use of pastures from the local farmers to the noble landlord.
Mainly prepared with cow milk
, it can contain variable quantities of sheep or goat milk (up to 20%).
The curd is broken twice, after its formation.
The first time, it gets cut in pieces as big as beans and it is then taken out of the brine and dried for about 24 hours on a special cloth.
It's then that the second breaking takes place, in small pieces.
Before putting the so obtained mass into its forms, it is let to acidify for about 4 days with the addition of salt.
The ripening is the final stage and can last for about 4 months in some natural environment.
As I mentioned before, this cheese belongs to the family of the blue cheeses and that is how it was historically produced.
Also due to the changes in the taste of the consumers, though, it is nowadays somewhat more difficult to get this cheese with this degree of seasoning; instead, white paste forms (meaning that have not yet developed the molds which generate the "blue" color) are mainly sold.
You might hear about Castelmagno d'alpeggio: this cheese is produced following more closely the traditional procedures and making use of natural caves for the ripening.
For the production of this cheese, some rigorous guidelines are being followed:
- Only milk from cows in the region and fed without chemical additives is used
- It is processed in typical cheese making houses, called "malghe", above 1600 meters of altitude
- Production is carried out from June to September
Its has a typical rough look, with a color that turns to brown with the ripening.
The paste is "semi-hard", granulous and varying from ivory to ivory with blue veins, depending on the aging.
Typically, the forms of this cheese can vary between 15 and 25 cms in diameter and 5 to kilograms in weight.
The taste is typically mild, delicate and tasty, especially when it's young; the ripening creates spicier, more decisive notes.
There are a number of ways to taste this magnificent italian cheese: it is wonderful if tasted alone or with some honey (especially suitable the one from linden tree flowers) and absolutely fantastic, a must, prepared with pasta, risotto or gnocchi.
I especially like risotto with castelmagno: very fine, delicate and noble taste, creamy texture, incredibly good accompanied by a glass of barbaresco!
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