Montasio PDO is a cooked hard cheese made exclusively from cow’s milk. Depending on the length of the ripening process, minimum 60 days, the flavour can vary from delicate when fresh (Fresco) to stronger and aromatic when more mature (Mezzano or Semistagionato, Stagionato and Stravecchio).
The milk must come from consecutive milkings and must be collected within 48 hours of the first milking; it must then be processed within 30 hours. After the addition of micro-organisms that promote acidification, the milk is brought to a temperature of 32-34°C and then curdled with the addition of liquid or powdered calf rennet. Following the breaking of the curd, it is cooked until the temperature reaches 42-48°C and then dowelled for a minimum of 10 minutes. The product is then extracted with special cloths and placed in molds, which imprint the mark of origin and the date of production on the product. The molds are then pressed to drain the whey and to give the cheese its characteristic form. The cheese is dry salted or salted in brine before being left to ripen for between 60 days to over 18 months, at a temperature of at least 8°C for the first 30 days and at a higher temperature for the remaining period.
Appearance and Flavour
Montasio PDO has a cylindrical shape with flat edges, and a smooth and elastic rind that darkens in colour as it ripens; the cheese is straw yellow, with a few eyes and a firm consistency, and over the months it becomes grainy and crumbly. Montasio PDO Fresco (fresh) has a smooth and delicate flavour, whereas the Mezzano or Semistagionato (medium or semi-mature) varieties have a stronger and particularly full flavour; the Stagionato variety (mature) has a very strong and aromatic flavour that is pleasantly piquant, whereas the Stravecchio (heavily aged) is strong and aromatic.
The production area of Montasio PDO is within the entire territory of the region of Friuli- Venezia Giulia; in the provinces of Belluno and Treviso and parts of the provinces of Padua and Venice, in the Veneto region.
The origins of Montasio PDO date back to 1700, when the monks of Moggio Udinese Abbey refined the production techniques for cheese. These methods spread throughout the valleys of the Giulie and Carniche Alps, eventually arriving in the plains of Veneto and Fruili; this was facilitated by the close proximity of the Ferro Canal, which was already an important communication and trading route in Roman times.
Montasio PDO should be conserved wrapped in cheese cloth and kept in the least cold compartment of the fridge. As well as being an excellent table cheese, it is also used as an ingredient for creating appetizers, adding flavour to main dishes and even for the preparation of desserts. Montasio PDO Fresco pairs well with dry and aromatic wines; Semistagionato with Friulano or Merlot; Stagionato with Raboso del Piave, Cabernet and Refosco.
The product is marketed as: Montasio PDO Fresco (ripened 2-4 months); Montasio PDO Mezzano (ripened 4-8 months); Montasio PDO Stagionato (ripened more than 10 months); Montasio PDO Stravecchio (ripened more than 18 months); Montasio PDO cheese with the additional wording “Prodotto della Montagna” (Mountain Product); this is only indicated when the entire production process takes place in the specified mountain area. It is sold in wheels, pieces and pre-packed portions, as well as grated and sliced.
Montasio PDO is a highly nutritious cheese, with a balanced composition of water, lipids and proteins.