The making of Italian Montasio cheese the traditional way

These days you find so many different types of cheese. In UK supermarkets the most popular cheese, after the English ones, are the French, Italian and Spanish ones. I love them all but when it comes to freshness there is nothing like a freshly made cheese you can buy in a delicatessen shop or even better where it has been produced.

Montasio is a local cheese from the North east of Italy. It is a full flavoured hard cheese which is creamy, sweet and fresh when young and nutty and firm when aged. It is almost unknown in the UK  and every time my English friends try it for the first time they fall in love with it! I think it is its freshness, its milky taste and the absence of additives and preservatives. I always bring back a big chunk every time I go to Italy.

My mum used to make cheese all the time when she was young and she knows how artisan cheese is made.  Even though the production technique has evolved during the years, it is pretty much the same as it used to be 100 years ago.

I recently went to a demonstration in my local town on cheese making. It seems quite straightforward though!

First you will need fresh raw cow milk that has not undergone any treatment and you put it in a copper boiler; the milk is brought to a temperature of 32 – 34C.

making montasio

Then the rennet is added which is a complex of enzymes that comes from the stomach of calves. This will make the milk coagulate making it look like a gelatin. After 25 min the mass is cut with a tool.

montasio stirring

 cutting montasio

montasio 1

Grains as big as rice are formed. The mass is then heated at 44-46 C.

The dairyman constantly checks the consistency of the mass.

montasio testing

The mass is removed from the source of heat whilst continuing to stir for a further 20-30 minutes until the bean curd hardens up expelling the serum.

Then the mass is removed with a cloth.

montasio making

fetching

The mass is placed in the characteristic “molds” that reproduce the mark of origin and date of production, and then are pressed and drained of the liquid to give it its characteristic shape.

pressing cheese 1

montasio ring

After approximately 24 hours, the cheese is placed in brine (saturated solution of salt and water) for a period of about 48 hours. After this period, the cheese is given a final dry salting and then placed in warehouses to mature.

Fresh cheese anyone?

fresh cheese anyone?

 

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9 Responses to The making of Italian Montasio cheese the traditional way

  1. Choclette

    Montasio sounds delicious Alida. It’s very hard to find raw milk cheeses where I live, although we are lucky enough to have quite a lot of really tasty local cheeses. I went on a cheese making course a few years ago and it was really interesting – essentially as you’ve just described. Sadly, other than making yogurt cheese, we just don’t have the space in our house to do it, or I would give it a go.

  2. Nora

    This is very interesting to see how cheese is made. I’ve made goats cheese before and have heard that we can make our own ricotta and mascarpone. Would love to give them a go!

  3. la cucina di Molly

    Adoro il Montasio, è interessante vedere il procedimento di lavorazione! Un abbraccio!

  4. rita cooks italian

    Cara Alida, conosco il Montasio, un formaggio buonissimo. Interessante vedere come viene fatto (sicuramente un sapore incredibile!!). Io rimango constantemente delusa dai formaggi al supermercato non hanno mai quel sapore che ti aspetti ( specialmente quando paghi un bel po’ di piu’ del prezzo del Cheddar!!)

  5. Alida

    Hai ragione qui i formaggi costano troppo. A volte mi chiedo se e’ il packaging che costa piu’ dello stesso formaggio!

  6. Ozlem's Turkish Table

    So fascinating to see how the cheese is made; I greatly admire the love, care and passion goes on this process, and the result is I am sure a delicious product! Never had a chance to eat Montasio cheese, though I will now look out for it, ciao Alida!

  7. My Italian Smörgåsbord

    grazie per averci mostrato come fare il montasio. che darei per averne un po’ adesso! fantastico d’imparare a fare il formaggio anch’io ma il tempo a mia disposizione sembra sempre troppo poco…

  8. Alida

    Immagino. Con i bimbi non e’ mai finita e c’e’ sempre cosi tanto da fare! Io mi accontento di guardare a fare il formaggio.. piu’ che sufficiente! :-)

  9. Pingback: mylittleitaliankitchen.com – Fresh cheese made in Italy

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