Salva Cremasco PDO is a soft table cheese made exclusively with raw whole cow’s milk from Frisona Italiana and Bruna Alpina cattle breeds reared in the production area.
The cows are fed with fresh forage and feed derived from cereals and their by-products, obtained from at least 50% of cultivations within the production area. The cow’s milk is curdled at a temperature of between 32 and 40°C for 10-20 minutes, depending on climatic conditions and raw material. During this stage, the use of copper boilers is permitted as an alternative to equipment in steel or food plastic. The curd is broken twice: the first helps to obtain a better consistency; the second to obtain nut-sized grains. The curd is then extracted with the use of natural fibre or synthetic cloths and transferred to special wooden molds. In order to set the curd, it is cooked at a temperature of between 21 and 29°C, with a variable humidity level of between 80 and 90%, for between 8 to 16 hours. During this stage the product is given its identity mark with the use of a special printing plate. This is followed by dry salting or brining. The product is then ripened for a minimum of 75 days. The rind doesn’t undergo any treatment apart from being brushed with water and salt or oil, grape marc and aromatic herbs.
Appearance and Flavour
Salva Cremasco PDO is quadrangular parallelepiped in shape with a thin rind. The cheese is white with an aromatic and intense flavour and is generally firm, crumbly and softer in the part immediately beneath the rind. It has a slightly bitter taste reminiscent of green grass, in particular near the rind.
The production area of Salva Cremasco PDO is within the entire administrative territory of the provinces of Bergamo, Brescia, Cremona, Lecco, Lodi and Milan, in the Lombardy region.
The semantic origin of the name Salva Cremasco seems to derive from the farmers’ desire to “not waste” (salvare meaning “to save”) the milk that was surplus to requirement. In Cremasco, the production and trade of cheeses began to take on an important role after the year 1000; this is demonstrated by the existence of a Paratico dei formaggiai, a list of sanctioned requirements that regulated each craft guild. The widespread consumption in the area is confirmed by numerous paintings and frescoes of the XVII and XVIII centuries, which depict dinner tables or scenes from lavish banquets with the presence of different forms of cheeses. A study carried out by the Cremasco Anthropological Group in 2001 on Crema a tavola ieri e oggi, highlighted images that depict large pieces of cheese; in the Cena di San Gregorio Magno, by Paolo Veronese, there is a small Salva Cremasco cheese on the table, which almost seems ready to be eaten by the illustrious Pontiff.
Salva Cremasco PDO keeps well for several days if preserved in the fridge, wrapped in its original packaging or in a damp cloth. It is an extremely versatile cheese and is therefore an ideal ingredient for numerous recipes: starters (fried Salva Cremasco balls); main dishes (the traditional tighe peppers in Salva Cremasco); side dishes (pear and Salva Cremasco salad); and desserts, (Salva Cremasco tart).
The product is marketed as Salva Cremasco PDO. It is sold year-round in whole forms or portions.
The appearance of Salva Cremasco PDO is characterised by the presence of a thin rind made up of surface micro-flora, which during ripening allows for the formation of other forms of indigenous microbes.