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Italian Culinary Treasures: Fontina Cheese from Valle D’Aosta

Italian Culinary Treasures: Fontina Cheese from Valle D’Aosta

Discover the origin and characteristics of true Fontina cheese from Valle D’Aosta in Northern Italy.

Italian Culinary Treasures: Fontina Cheese from Valle D'AostaLuigi Chiesa

Fontina is one of more than 400 varieties of the best Italian cheeses in the world. Its ancient origins date back to the fifteenth century. According to historical records, the term “Fontina” is used as a name to indicate a plot of land. However, since the 1700’s, the name is used to designate the cheese, and most likely to indicate the name of the Fontina pasture.

Fontina cheese from Valle d’Aosta (Northern Italy) is produced from the milk of a prized breed of cattle that gives it particular characteristics. It is produced during the summer months directly in the pasture. The key is the raw milk straight from the cow, it is so fresh that it does not undergo any intervention from the barn at the dairy. Without any added colorants or additives other than natural calf rennet and milk enzymes specific to Valle d’Aosta, the Fontina DOP is rule by that production must follow to ensure the quality and origin of the product.

Cheese ripening is carried out in caves dug into the mountains where there are ideal conditions of humidity. In the course of ripening, the cheese is salted, brushed and turned so as to allow the formation of the crust. The crust is critical because it’s semipermeability and allows for the penetration of the salt in pasta to exalt the taste and the proper conduct of the biochemical processes of transformation of the components that determine the cheese texture and flavor.

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The minimum maturation of Fontina is 80 days, after which you get a semi-raw cheese, the crust thin and soft. The flavor is sweet but can vary, also depending on the degree of maturation and pastures of origin. Rich in phosphorus, calcium and vitamins (A and B), Fontina cheese is widely used in Italian cuisine. A typical dish is “Fonduta”fondue (dish of Valle d’Aosta), which is obtained by heating the cheese until you get a creamy texture.

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