THE GREAT CHEESES OF EAST LOMBARDY
A mecca for those who love delicious dairy products.

Mountains and plains, valleys and pastures: in the territory of East Lombardy, they punctuate and give recognition to a territory that, due to its orographic and hydrographic nature, is destined for breeding.

And therefore, also for cheeses.

By Mariella Caruso

It goes without saying that those who have passed on the knowledge of how to take care of animals did the same with the art (because it is one) of turning milk into cheese. Of the 31 Lombard agri-food products that have obtained the right to be labelled with the Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) and Protected Geographical Indication (IGP), 13 are cheeses and, according to the production specifications, 11 of these can be made in some of the municipalities in East Lombardy.
Among the cheese artisans of East Lombardy there are the producers of Formai de Mut DOP. We are in the Upper Brembana Valley, between the mountains (which is "mut" in the local dialect, that can also indicate the mountain pasture). It is the alpine milk that makes this cheese - thin crust, compact and elastic, ivory color with tiny dispersed holes - its characteristic flavour changes, like the colour of the cheese, depending on the period of maturation. It must be matured for at least 45 days.
Moving to Brescia, in Valtrompia, to get to know the Nostrano Valtrompia DOP. An extra hard, cooked, semi-fat cheese, produced exclusively with raw milk from Brune cows, heated in copper boilers with the addition of saffron; salting is done by hand and the maturation cannot be less than 12 months. Being obtained from raw milk in pastures at an altitude of around 1,800 metres, it is a cheese that is almost exclusively produced by small dairy farmers who, in most cases, are also the breeders.
Our journey continues with the Salva Cremasco DOP, which, despite the name can be produced not only in Cremona, but also in the provinces of Bergamo, Brescia, Lodi, Milan and Lecco. We find ourselves in front a soft, raw curd cheese, produced with whole milk from Alpine Brune or Italian Friesian cows, whose name tells a story. The Salva Cremasco DOP was born in the Middle Ages (there are testimonies already from around the year 1000) to “salvare” or "save" the surpluses of unconsumed milk and have cheese to eat during the herd migrations from the north to the south.
Finally, how do you not conclude with a star of cheese like the amazing Grana Padano, whose birth dates back to the beginning of the second millennium, from the Benedictine monks of Chiaravalle Abbey? So much of this cheese is produced in Mantua, but we are faced with impressive numbers also throughout the other three areas of East Lombardy. There was a total of 4,859,592 wheels produced in 2016, of which 1,761,839 were exported, from 130 dairy factories with about 40,000 employees.

East Lombardy is the European region
of gastronomy 2017

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