Making cheese is a question of time, temperature and hands of the casaro, so we decided to learn the trade by the masters at the dairy in Valtorta, Bergamo.
We spent an entire day with them and we want to share with you what we learnt.
The production starts early. At 6 am the stracchino production starts, later on, around 8 am it is the turn of Formai de Mut. Milk is collected from the local farms and it is poured into the vat in order to be warmed up up to 38 degrees. After that it rests for about 40 minutes in the vat at controlled temperature.
After rennet is added, the casaro waits around one hour to get the curd ready.
With a massive knife the curd is cut into equal parts and after that a special hook is mounted and the curd gets ground as fine as a grain of rice.
After the rest all the liquid serum is extracted and only the curd is left, ready to be cut put in a cloth and transferred into the wheels.
The wheels are flipped a couple of times, drained and then left in brine for 24-48 hours. Then they are ready for the cellar where they will stay for a minimum of 6 months.
Formai de Mut after 6 months of ageing in the cellar.
Formai de Mut is made only in the allotted region in the Alta Val Brembana. It is a PDO and like Fontina in Valle D'Aosta is the typical example of an ancient mountain cheese that follows an old tradition and it is a staple for rural economies of these remote villages.
There are only 20 dairies in Italy that make this cheese and all are small and independent. Formai de Mut is still relatively unknown outside Italy, making this cheese a real jem. We would not be surprised if in the next years it will get a broader popularity such Fontina or Asiago.