Storico , or Heritage cheese of Bitto valley, is an alpine cheese made with raw milk and produced in many locations on the Orobic Alps. When mature, the cheese is round and regular in shape, with a diameter of 40/50 cm, and a height of 9/12cm. Each cheese weighs between 9 and 20 kg. The cheese is tough and can be white or yellow, depending on the level of ripening. The cheese has few small round holes in it.
The production phases follow the local tradition and environmental factors, and generally go from the first of June to the 30th of September.
The freshly milked cow’s milk is added to fresh goat’s milk (10-20%).The goat’s milk comes exclusively from Orobic goats (a rare native breed at risk of extinction) and is used raw, immediately after milking, in the “calècc” (itinerant dairy).
The raw milk has microbiological characteristics that vary according to climate, environment and animal nutrition. The rules for the production of heritage cheese of Bitto valley prohibit the use of probiotics (cultures of starter bacteria) when making the cheese, as well as prohibiting the use of feeds and silage for cows and goats. These rules ensure that the special quality of mountain milk is preserved.
By prohibiting the use of probiotics (starters) during curdling, the organoleptic variability of the cheese is enriched. The cheesemaking process is entirely carried out by local bacteria that change according to the alpine location and environment (surfaces, equipment, humidity). The high variability and unpredictability of the cheeses’ aroma increases the risk of “bad” cheeses.
For this reason, the Heritage cheeses that will continue to be cared for are selected in the ripening Casèra (cellar) in Gerola Alta, so that they can be certified by the Slow Food Presidia.
Although all Heritage wheel are made with the same traditional methods by all 12 producers, each cheese can be quite unique and its aroma influenced by location and altitude. Only cheeses produced from animals who are fed exclusively on pasture grass can be considered Heritage cheese of the Bitto valley.
In the ripening dairy in Gerola Alta, the Storico Slow Food Presidia can be left to age for over ten years.