Storico Cheese Production
The pasture grass eaten by the livestock enriches the quality of their milk, which becomes rich in polyunsaturated fats and essential omega 3 fatty acids, both beneficial for health and wellbeing.
This special milk is obtained by milking cows and goats twice a day: the first milking is at 6 AM and the second at about 4 PM.
The milk is processed immediately after milking, in a structure called “calècc”, which is an itinerant dairy erected on the pasture. It’s important to process the milk onsite in order to avoid bacterial contamination and changes caused by transportation.
Processing in the Calécc
Inside the “calecc” we find the traditional “culdera”, a large copper cauldron shaped like an upturned bell, which can weigh up to 50 kg. The cow’s milk, fresh and still warm, is placed in the “culdera” together with a percentage of goat’s milk (10-20%). The milk is then warmed over the fire using a wooden swivel hoist, called a “màsna”, until it reaches 35-37°C.
After removing the “culdera” from the fire, calf’s rennet is added to coagulate the milk. The resulting curd is then finely broken with a tool called a “spìgn”, a wooden pole with metal strings on one end that comb the curd until it resembles rice grains. The “culdera” is then placed over the fire again and brought to the final temperature of 50-52°C in the space of two hours.
Once this temperature is reached, the cheesemaker uses a linen sheet to remove the curd. He then presses the curd into the “fascere”, round wooden bands of about 50 cm diameter which give the cheese it’s shape. The “fascere” containing the pressed curdare then placed on a slightly tilted wooden shelf, called “spresùn”, which lets the whey drain out of the cheese into a specially prepared gutter.
At this point, the liquid that is left in the “culdera” is the whey which will be used to produce mascherpa (a soft cheese called also “ricotta”).
Most of the equipment used during cheesemaking is made of wood. Producers of “Storico” cheese consider this very important because wood is porous and breathable, letting the cheese dry and breathe during shaping and salting. Wooden equipment is also essential in order to preserve the local tradition and characteristics of each pasture.
Wooden equipment contains a special microflora which prevents contamination by external microbes. The ripening process starts in the “casère d’Alpe” (alpine cheese cellars) and is completed in the Casèra in Gerola Alta.
The natural climatic change of the production area is of importance to the ripening process. The cheese must be ripened for at least seventy days in order to obtain a good cheese.