CHEESE O’DAY – MARCH 28 TUESDAY – UH OH TALEGGIO
Today we look at a cheese that is a great example of two types- alpine and stinky. Taleggio combines the wonderful feel to the palate of cow milk mountain cheeses with the sublime flavor of the soft brine washed.
Here is this description from Academia Barilla:
Taleggio is a soft, table cheese produced predominately in Lombardy with a couple of cheese-makers working outside the region, in Novarese and Treigiano. The cheese’s name comes from the Taleggio Valley in the province of Bergamo. Since the end of the nineteenth century until the beginning of the twentieth, it was classified as a type of Stracchino or Quartirolo and went by the name of “Stracchino quadro di Milano” (http://www.valbrembanaweb.com/…/sitogi…/cucina/taleggio.html). In 1914, the cheese became “Stracchino quadro di Taleggio” and it took about 10 more years for people to recognize the cheese by its name, Taleggio.
Like many other alpine cheeses, Taleggio was born out of the need to preserve the milk left over from home consumption. It was made by hand at home and aged in local caves, including the famous ones in the Sassina Valley.
According to sources from up to 1200, Taleggio was often used for bartering.
Today Taleggio is made from full fat cow milk that is either raw or pasteurized. The milk must come from dairies in Lombardy (around Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Lecco, Lodi, Milano and Pavia), in Piedmont (around Novara) and in Veneto (around Treviso). Natural rennet from the stomachs of milk-fed calves is used as a coagulate. The resulting curd is left to rest for 10-25 minutes then is cut twice: the first time into large chunks, which are then left for a further 10-15 minutes. This allows the curd to expel more whey and improves the texture of the cheese. The second time round the curd is cut into pieces the size of hazelnuts.
The curds are placed into square moulds to drain. The Cheese is held between 71-77° F and turned several times for 8 to 16 hours to remove whey. This is the stage at which Taleggio’s distinctive T’s markings are applied to one of the faces. The lower-left corner circle will carry the consortium number assigned to the cheese producer. The blocks of cheese are then salted. Artisanal producers typically dry salt their cheeses. Industrial producers will submerge the wheels in a brine solution at around 10°C for 8-12 hours. After salting the wheels are aged in caves or cave-like rooms for 40 days.
Taleggio is an important cheese for students of cheese to know because it is a significant example of the economic impact of Transhumance. While up in the high Alpine pastures in the summer cheese could be made harder and in larger wheels. As herds were moved south to winter in the Lombardy Plain they were moved down through the mountain valleys of Taleggio and Valsassina. As they moved daily milking continued to be necessary. Inhabitants of these valleys took the milk and produced smaller format cheeses that weren’t aged as long as the summer alpine cheeses. These cheese provided trade and food security to the villages the herds moved through.
THIS JUST IN: THANKS TO THE GENEROSITY OF SO MANY IN OUR CHEESE COMMUNITY, OUR FIRST ACS CCP EXAM® HAS BEEN FULLY FUNDED!! Plus we are 50% toward funding a second scholarship for an ACS CCP® to attend the ACS Conference in Denver.
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