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Agordino malga cheese


Casél, nostrano or simply formai (cheese): these are the names used by the cheesemakers of the Agordino to define the cheese produced in their valleys. A few dozen kilometres from Belluno, the valleys crossed by the Cordevole torrent and its tributaries are at the foot of the Marmolada, the Pale di San Martino, and the Civetta-Moiazza group. A great cheese-making tradition has been handed down here for centuries. It is no coincidence that in the Agordino area, specifically in Canale d'Agordo, the first Italian cooperative dairy was founded in January 1872, by the priest Don Antonio della Lucia: an avant-garde initiative that was later taken up throughout the Belluno, Trentino and other Alpine areas. The cooperative system allowed farmers to produce more rationally, to improve the quality of cheese and butter thanks to the employment of a master cheesemaker who produced for all members, and also facilitated marketing. Today, times have changed and the priority need is instead to safeguard mountain pasture production which, thanks to the extraordinary essences of the Agordino pastures, reaches levels of excellence here. Among these austere mountains, at the top of stony paths, the malghe overlook splendid panoramas. All are fairly easy to reach and are located at different altitudes: from the highest, malga Ombreta (1904 metres), to malga Ciapela (1450 metres), both in the municipality of Rocca Pietore. Most of the malghe also provide refreshment for tourists. The malgari (shepherds) go up at the beginning of the summer with their Brune Alpine and Pezzate rosse cows, among which there are always a few donkeys (the mus) and a few goats, indispensable for cleaning the pastures of the toughest grasses, and only come down at the end of the alpine pasture, in September.   With the milk from the evening milking, partially skimmed by skimming, and the morning's whole milk, round, semi-cooked cheeses are produced every day. Not regular shapes, weighing about 3, 4 kilos, with the heel ranging from 5 to 8 centimetres and a diameter varying between 25 and 35 centimetres. Agordino di malga cheese, like all Alpine tome cheeses, is best after at least 60 days of ripening and up to eight months.
From the Agordino comes this cheese made from cow's milk, which is only produced in summer, when the cows laze in the high pastures. The spontaneous grasses and flowers leave unique aromas in the milk, and consequently in the cheese, that are exciting for the taster.
Agordino malga cheese, like all Alpine tome cheeses, is excellent after at least 60 days of ripening and up to eight months.
Production area
Agordino territory, between the Marmolada, the Pale di San Martino and the Civetta Moiazza group, in the province of Belluno.