Stracchino all'Antica Slow Food Presidia is a whole raw curd cow’s cheese made by presamic acid coagulation, soft, fatty and briefly matured. Also known as “Stracchin a munta calda”, warm from milking, as it is made with milk at a temperature of 37°C, that at milking.
Parallelepiped-shaped whole raw cow’s milk cheese with a 20 cm square base, flat top and bottom, and slightly convex side, weighing about 1.3-1.8 kg. The rind is yellow, sometimes ochre, in colour, washed, elastic and generally moist, with orangey hazelnut-coloured mould. It bears the pattern of the straw mats (busche de strachì) on which it ripens. The inner rind is medium and the body is deep straw-yellow in colour, sometimes hazelnut towards the inner rind. It sometimes displays small eyes. Traditional Orobiche Valleys Stracchino has a soft, smooth, greasy structure and may consist of two curds: one creamier, the other almost chalky. It is initially mild on the palate but then becomes tangy and bitterish sometimes with spicy notes. The aromas are complex and medium-long; notes range from warm milk and melted butter to herbs and hay, fresh mushrooms, citrus fruit, straw leather and beef stock, and sometimes white pepper can be detected too. It melts in the mouth and is non-sticky and moist.
A whole raw curd cow’s cheese made by presamic acid coagulation, soft, fatty and briefly matured. The milk is inoculated with calf’s rennet and, in some cases, with self-produced starter culture. After coagulating for 20-40 minutes, the curd is broken over two stages until it is soft and large enough to keep the cheese tender. It is then put into moulds and ripened for a day and a half at about 20°C and 90% humidity until the rinds are covered with a light white bloom. The temperature has to be carefully controlled since, if the cheeses were to cool, they would lose their shape. At this point the cheeses are dry-salted first on the top and then, 12 hours later, on the bottom, and matured, with occasional turning, at 6-10°C and 75% for about 20 days to acquire their unique flavour. They are produced all year round in the Brembana, Taleggio, Serina and Imagna valleys.
The name Stracchino would appear to derive from the Bergamo dialect word stracch, meaning tired. It was used in the days of transhumance from the plains to the mountain pastures and back to refer to cheese made from the meagre milk of cattle worn out by the journey. It had to be easy and quick to prepare with no need to heat the milk or for lengthy coagulation and draining of the whey. In his Vocabolario, written in the mid 18th century, Abbot Giovanni Battista Angelini called this cheese strachì da viaz.
The Stracchino family includes various types of cheese, all derived from the same base, such as Stracchinello Tenero, Taleggio, Quartirolo, Salva, Strachitunt and Gorgonzola.
For centuries the Stracchino produced in Val Taleggio was regarded as the best, as the first Guida gastronomica del Touring Club published in 1931 was at pains to point out. Hence the name Taleggio began to be applied to all cheeses of this type, even if they were produced elsewhere with slightly different techniques.
The Slow Food Orobiche Valleys Traditional Stracchino Presidia is seeking to raise the profile of the cheese, now on the verge of extinction, in its areas of origin: namely the Valle Brembana and the confluent Serina, Taleggio and Imagna valleys.