A whole raw cow’s milk cheese made by presamic coagulation, raw curd, semi-hard, fatty, aged for at least 45 days. Cheeses produced in mountain pastures in the summer have a blue label, otherwise they have a red label.
Cylindrical in shape with a flat top and bottom and a diameter of 30-40 cm, and, unlike Bitto and Branzi, a convex side of 8-10 cm.
The weight may vary from 8 to 12 kilos. The rind is thin, wrinkly, dry, brushed, elastic and compact. Its colour may be one of a variety of tones of yellow tending to grey with maturing. It may also display small patches of white mould. The inner rind is usually moderately thick and dark yellow in colour. The body is yellow and becomes darker with maturing, almost hazelnut-coloured when produced in mountain dairies in summer. It has a scattering of bird’s eye-sized eyes, and is elastic, compact and smooth. Notes on the nose include warm milk, fresh and melted butter, hay, blossom, toast, vanilla, beef stock and straw. Their intensity is high in the mature version. The flavour is sweet and savoury, not very acid and bitter. The mature cheeses has pungent notes. Olfactory length is notable and the cheese melts and is slightly adhesive in the mouth. The mature version may be granulose and, with prolonged ageing, acquires olfactory and taste complexity.
TECHNIQUE OF PRODUCTION
A whole cow’s milk cheese from one or two daily milkings. The cattle must be fed on green forage or hay from grazing pastures in the area of production, which may be supplemented with mixed cereals in the winter, and maize or grass silage. Coagulation is effected by inoculation with liquid calf’s rennet at a temperature of 35-37° C. and takes 30 minutes. The curd is broken, semi-cooked at a temperature of 45-47°C, taken off the heat and stirred. It then pressed thoroughly to allow the whey to drain, after which it is transferred to moulds known as fassére. The cheese is soaked in brine or dry-salted, in which case the operation is repeated every other day for 8-12 days. It is matured on boards known as scalére for at least 45 days. Cheeses produced in mountain dairies bear a blue label, others a red one. The label features a stylized reproduction of the bells the cattle wear round their necks.
The literal translation of Formai del Mut would be “mountain cheese”, but in Bergamo dialect the word mut means “mountain pasture” and is used in expressions such as ndà al mut (go to the pastures) and cargà/descargà ’l mut (take the cattle up to/down from the pastures), typical of the bergamini, the herders of the Alta Valle Brembana who make and mature the cheese in their caselli or casere, mountain huts. Blue Formai de Mut is produced in mountain pastures at an altitude of 1,200-2,300 meters in the Alta Valle Brembana, in the Orobie Alps, in the province of Bergamo, where the cattle graze for 60-100 days.
Risotto with chestnuts and PDO Formai de Mut dell’Alta Val Brembana
- 420 g carnaroli rice
- ½ onion, chopped
- 70 g butter
- ½ glass Valcalepio bianco Doc
- 18 steamed chestnuts, roughly chopped
- 1.5 l vegetable or meat stock
- 120 g PDO Formai de Mut dell’Alta Val Brembana, matured one year, grated
- rosemary, finely chopped
Preparation and cooking
Sauté the chopped onion in 20 g of butter, stir in the rice and allow to coat. Add the chestnuts (reserving six of them). Pour in the white wine, allow to evaporate and add the hot stock. Season with salt to taste and remove from the heat. Stir in 50 g of butter and the Formai de Mut. Decorate with a chestnut and a sprig of rosemary.
The steamed chestnuts may be replaced with biligòcc, the smoked chestnuts typical of the Valle Brembana, peeled and boiled in milk.