Seal of quality
Typical food-farming product (PAT)
This is a fat cheese (at times semi-fat) made from cow’s milk that is produced in summer on the mountain pastures of the province of Cuneo . Its distribution is such that it presents various external and gustatory characteristics and is carried out according to the taste and habits of the different “margari” (Piedmontese breeders of cattle and sheep on Alpine mountain pastures).
It comes in a cylindrical shape and in variable sizes, with flat faces 30 cm in diameter, and straight circumference 8 – 10 cm in height, weighing from 2 to 8 kg per whole cheese.
There are two types: fresh and aged. Fresh Nostrale has a thin straw-yellow rind, it is a hard cheese with small holes. The rind of the aged Nostrale is often brown, and, after a few months of ageing, it becomes of a grainy nature and assumes a strong and spicy flavour.
It is prepared using whole cow’s milk (and sometimes semi-skimmed) rarely mixed with small quantities of goat or sheep’s milk, calf whey or powdered calf rennet, Processing begins by heating the milk (whole or mixed with semi-skimmed milk) brought to a temperature of 30 °C, the curd is then added and the whole is left to coagulate for 30-40 min. When the curd has been broken down with a skimmer to the size of a grain of wheat or a hazelnut, it is then put into a boiler for 5 – 10 min. and, in some cases, the procedure is carried out over a wood fire at 40 °C for 60 min. After this, the cloth-covered curd is removed and submitted to pressing by means of mechanical press or weights. Salting follows, either dry or in brine. Ageing takes a minimum of 30 – 50 days for the fresh Nostrale and can reach six months for the aged Nostrale.
Area of production
Nostrale d’alpe is produced in summer on the mountain pastures of the valleys in the province of Cuneo. It is produced throughout the year only if the farm is permanent on the mountains.
In the province of Cuneo, this mountain pasture activity is still very popular, with its ancient and unchanged rituals that go back to the mists of time. Every year in summer, approximately 35,000 cows and 30,000 sheep and goats make their way up to the mountain pastures from the flatland, according to a tradition that foresees the integrated development of high altitude forage resources and the production of typical cheeses with their unique and unmistakable flavours.