New Presidia from Around the World at Cheese 2009
17 Jul 09
The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity is on a constant quest for new products to be protected and promoted. Cheeses are expressions of unique cultural and environmental heritage (native breeds selected over the centuries to be perfectly adapted to local conditions, mountain dairies and pastures, ancient knowledge), and they are one of the biggest families among Slow Food projects.
Cheese 2009 will present some of the Foundation’s latest international developments, with seven Presidia and a recently formed food community meeting the public for the first time at a Slow Food-organized event.
Rove Brousse Goat Cheese - France
Traditionally prepared using milk from the Rove goat, a rustic breed well suited to the dry hills of the Provençal interior, Rove Brousse is a fresh unsalted cheese with a soft, crumbly paste. For some years now industrial versions of Brousse have been available in supermarkets, but they are often made with cheaper cow’s milk. Around Rove a small movement has sprung up to defend the original Brousse, made only from the raw milk of Rove goats left out to pasture.
Bouches-du-Rhône, south Vaucluse and west Var Departments, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region
Béarn Mountain Pasture Cheeses - France
Every year in June, around 80 shepherds from the three valleys of Béarn (Ossau, Aspe and Barétous) lead their flocks of Basque-Bearnese breed sheep to the mountain pastures on the French side of the Western Pyrenees, between 900 and 2,000 meters above sea level. For three months they live in small isolated stone huts and make traditional Tommes: pressed raw milk cheeses which can weigh over five kilograms. After aging for at least four months in a humid place, the Tommes assume an attractive beige-orange color, becoming soft and mellow and developing a delicate but persistent flavor.
Ossau, Aspe and Barétous Valleys between 900 and 2,000 meters altitude, Pyrénées-Atlantiques Department, Aquitaine Region
Pultost from Hedmark and Oppland Counties - Norway
Pultost has ancient origins and is typically made in a saeter, a Norwegian mountain farm. For hundreds of years it was produced throughout Norway, particularly in Hedmark and Oppland counties in the southeast of the country. A sour-milk cheese, it is made using acid fermentation without the addition of rennet, one of the most ancient cheesemaking techniques. The skimmed, unpasteurized cow’s milk is soured and heated to a temperature between 45° and 65°C. The curd is then hung in a cloth to drain before being crumbled and left to ferment. Finally caraway seeds are added for flavoring and to stop the fermentation. Pultost can be eaten fresh or aged for up to a year.
Hedmark and Oppland Counties, southeast Norway
Carranzana Cara Negra Sheep Cheese - Spain
The Carranzana Cara Negra is a Basque sheep with a distinctive black head. Currently subject to a breed recovery program, it is a very rustic sheep, adapted to life in the green but remote mountain pastures in the province of Bilbao. The raw milk from the Carranzana Cara Negra is used to make a traditional small semi-aged cheese. The curd, made using lamb’s rennet, is put into molds by hand and seasoned with salt from the Salinas de Añana, a Basque Ark of Taste product. The cheese is aged for a minimum of two months, but the flavor becomes more distinctive after four months.
Las Encartaciones, Biscay Province, Basque Countries
Raw-Milk Vacherin Fribourgeois - Switzerland
Vacherin Fribourgeois is a semi-hard, semi-cooked cow’s milk cheese originally from the French-speaking canton of Fribourg in Switzerland. Around 2,500 tons are produced annually, but only 2% are made with raw milk. The Presidium was created to promote the raw-milk Vacherin produced in the summer in the mountains and aged for at least three months. After this period the cheese begins to express its unique characteristics, particularly the sweet softness in the mouth that comes from the technique of délactosage, curd washing. Vacherin is also an indispensable ingredient in Fribourgeouis fondue.
Traditional Emmentaler - Switzerland
Emmentaler is still produced in the traditional way in the Emme Valley, the origin of its name. An ancient cheese, probably dating back to the 13th century, it is known around the world. Traditional Presidium Emmentaler is made using local raw milk from cows fed a silage-free diet. The cheesemaking technique involves the use of a whey starter culture, which requires great skill from the cheesemaker. However the most important factor in the cheese’s quality is a long aging: The cheese matures for at least 12 months in damp cellars, where thanks to continuous care it develops a dark crust and a strong but balanced flavor.
Emme Valley, Berne Canton
Raw-Milk Butter - Switzerland
This Presidium was set up to protect and promote a very rare product: raw-milk butter made from soured cream and lactic acid bacteria cultures produced in the dairy. One of the last remaining producers in Switzerland is Marco Eicher, who makes just over 60 kilograms of butter once or twice a week in his small dairy in Wernetshausen in the Zürcher Oberland, using only organic milk. When the cream has reached the right acidity – which generally takes two to four days – he puts it in the butter churn to obtain a solid mass which is then washed, kneaded and modeled into classic pats.
Community of Herders and Yogurt Producers - Kenya
Animal breeders and farmers, they are tall and thin, with narrow faces and large black eyes. When a guest visits their community, they dance and sing wearing traditional costumes, with bright necklaces of yellow and red beads, crowns of shells and white feathers and rattles and goat horns tied to their calves. The name of the community – the same as the river that runs through their village of round mud-and-straw huts – is Terzoi, which means “white feather,” their traditional decoration.
They drink the milk of their cows (a cross between local breeds and zebus) and goats and also use it to make butter and an unusual kind of yogurt. The milk is poured into a long, narrow, hollow gourd and left to rest for at least three days. The whey is then drained, the container closed and shook regularly. When the yogurt is ready, they add the ash from a local tree called cromwo, which has antiseptic properties, gives an aromatic note to the flavor and colors the yogurt a distinctive pale-gray.
Four representatives from this community – soon to be a Slow Food Presidium – will be in Italy to take a training course on animal and milk hygiene, and will be recounting their ancient culture at Cheese.
West Pokot, west Kenya