Montasio

ABOUT

This cheese, which achieved the recognition of DOP status in 1996, but has been officially protected since 1955, is produced, in accordance with the Disciplinare regulations, throughout Friuli Venezia Giulia, and in Veneto in the provinces of Belluno and Treviso and in parts of the provinces of Padova and Venice. Its origins are thought to date from 1200 when monks from the Abbey of Moggio Udinese, which stood on the plateau of the Montasio, after observing methods used by dairymen who favoured the mountain pastures, refined their production techniques to create a recipe which is still used today.

The milk is transformed into cheese using “soft” techniques, which minimise any disruption to the microbes of the flora and the original bacteria, so as to encourage the growth of natural milk enzymes, which originate from that area, and from the cattle and hays used. The classic production process decrees that the milk be poured into cauldrons, usually made of copper, then the milk starter culture is added, the mixture is heated to a temperature of 32 to 34°, and finally the rennet is added.  After that the gelatine mass is cut using a special instrument, a “lira” or rennet knife, (the name derives from its shape). The granules obtained are the size of a grain of rice. After that the heating phase begins and the mixture is heated to 44 to 46°. While continuing to stir the mixture, cooking - or breaking up of the rennet- continues away from the heat, which is fundamental to achieving a good firm texture, with the expulsion of the whey, from the grains of rennet.  After 20 to 30 minutes the Montasio is removed using special cloths.  The forms are then placed in special “fascere” or molds which imprint them with the stamp of origin and the date of production;  then, the forms are pressed so as to drain off the whey and give them their characteristic shape.  After about 24 hours the cheese is placed in brine for a period of around 48 hours.  After this, it is subjected to another, dry, salting and is then placed in the store room to mature. 

Montasio can be consumed fresh, medium-mature or well matured and its taste varies according to its maturation, from the typical milky taste of the younger forms, to the spicy flavour of the stravecchio or fully matured, as does its consistency, ranging from soft to crumbly, which is suitable for use as grated cheese.

Raw Milk: normally produced with heat-treated milk the Disciplinare rules also allow it to be made using raw milk, a version which enhances the aromas and characteristics of its primary ingredient.

CHARACTERISTICS

DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) table cheese produced with whole cow’s milk.

Ingredients
Cow’s milk, milk enzymes, salt, rennet, lysozyme E1105 (natural protein from egg extract). 
Non edible rind.

Appearance
Firm and compact natural straw yellow dough, with light holes.   Smooth regular elastic rind which tends to harden with maturation.  Sides stamped through with “MONTASIO”.

Flavour
Rich pleasant flavour, tending to spicy with maturation.

Maturation
Maturation can vary between 60 days (fresh) and 120 days (mezzano/medium) or more (vecchio/mature and stravecchio/fully mature).

Physical characteristics
Cylindrical form with flat or slightly convex faces of 30 to 35 cm diameter, variable height of 8 to 11 cm.  Weight between 6 and 7.5 kg.

Specifications and nutritional information
Water content < 36.7% approx
Fat content total   30% approx
Fat content dry 52% approx
Protein 25% approx
Calorie content 370 Kcal

Microbiological analysis
Staphylococcus aureus <1,000 ufc/g
Escherichia Coli <1,000 ufc/g
Salmonella PP absent in 25 g
Lysteria monocytogenes absent in 25 g

Conservation and storage
Store in a cool dry place.

Transport temperature
Must be transported at a temperature between +4° and +12° C.

Palletising
Loose forms: six layers of eight forms.
Boxed: seven layers of six forms.

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