Stelvio PDO or Stilfser g.U. is a compact cheese produced with cow’s milk obtained from cows fed mainly with forage from the production area.
The milk, which may be lightly skimmed, must be processed within 48 hours of milking and is inoculated with milk whey. After 50-60 minutes calf rennet is added. The curd is obtained at 32-33°C after about 20-27 minutes of curdling. Once broken into grains the size of corn kernels, the mass is agitated for 8-10 minutes, drained of the whey and finally heated. Processing, from the addition of the rennet to the mass being poured onto the table, takes around 80-90 minutes. The curd is extracted, shaped and put in cylindrical molds that are used for pressing, a procedure which lasts from 30 minutes to two hours. Once pressed, the forms are left to rest in conditioned environments until they reach the desired level of acidification. The forms are cooled and hardened by being immersed in cold water for one-three hours. Only brining is used to salt the form, while ripening takes place on wooden tables. During the ripening period, which lasts for at least 60 days, the forms are turned and washed twice a week with a saline solution.
Appearance and Flavour
Stelvio PDO or Stilfser g.U. has a cylindrical shape with almost flat surfaces and straight or concave edges. Its weight varies from 8 to 10 kg and the rind has a typical yellow-orange or yellow-brown colour. The cheese is compact, soft and elastic and has a strong and piquant aroma with an intense and decisive taste.
The production area of Stelvio PDO or Stilfser g.U. is within the territory of numerous municipalities in the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, several of which are within the Stelvio National Park.
The origins of Stelvio PDO or Stilfser g.U. date back to the XIII century, as shown by numerous historical documents. In fact, it has been proved that this cheese was already a staple element in the diet of the local population at that time. Local books testify that this cheese was used as a means of exchange for the payment of tributes to landowners, confirming the importance of its production. The use of the name Stelvio or Stilfser is found in several documents from the Stilf dairy dating back to the beginning of the XX century.
Stelvio PDO or Stilfser g.U. should be kept in its original packaging, in a sealed glass or plastic container, in the least cold compartment of the fridge. This cheese is optimal when melted over polenta, in particular over the least refined polenta typical of mountain cuisine. It is also ideal served with many typical dishes from southern Tyrolean cuisine: from cereal soups to speck ham and cheese boards. It is usually paired with Pinot Nero dell’Alto Adige and Schiava wines, while for the more mature cheese, Lagrein wine from the Terlano coast is recommended.
The product is marketed as Stelvio PDO or Stilfser g.U. It is sold year-round in whole forms, large pieces, or in pre-packed slices. The label must bear the designation and product logo.
During the first three weeks of ripening, a specific native microflora is added to Stelvio PDO or Stilfser g.U.. This microflora is responsible for the particular external layer on the rind and for giving the cheese its typical colour, which ranges from yellowish-orange to orangey-brown, and its intense aroma.