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How it is made and when it becomes Fontina Pdo Bio

The real “makers” of Fontina Pdo Bio are Aosta Valley mountain pastures and the autochthnous breed of cow the Dappled red, the Dappled black and the Chestnut who play an irreplaceable role exalting the grass in the high pastures and the natural locally-grown hay.

The relationship between animals and pastures (2,3 units per hectare) is carefully managed and supervised by man who, following a set sequence and calendar, organises the movements of the animals to the upper pastures.

In terms of quantity, cows have a variable milk production over the year, but of superior quality. The cows’ diet, mainly made up of alpine essences, determines the nutritional qualities of the milk, which vary slightly between Summer and Winter.

Cheese making, following the Pdo production regulations, does never alter the characteristics of the fresh milk which pass unchanged into the cheese.

As a matter of facts, the milk is transformed within only a couple of hours after milking, twice a day, at a temperature of 36°C, using veal rennet.

The curd is then broken up to the size of grains of corn. Stirring continually the curd

is then heated slowly to 48°C to accomplish the separation from the whey.

Once it has reached the correct temperature heating is stopped and, still keeping the curd mixture moving, the removal of whey is completed. Once this phase of breaking up is over the mixture is left to rest for about ten minutes, after which the curd is placed in typical concave-sided cheese hoops on which a small casein plate is applied with the cheese’s progressive number. The cheeses are then placed under a press to assure the final removal of whey.

This pressing lasts around 12 hours during which time the cheeses are turned over a number of times. Before the final turning the small number plate is applied with the producer’s identification number (CTF), which together with the casein plate guarantees the clear tracing of the product.

Then the cheese is salted and then transferred to the warehouses for ripening. The average period of maturation is at least 3 months during which the cheese is periodically brushed and dry-salted on the surface. In the first month cheeses are turned daily, salted one day and dry-brushed the next; these operations help to form the typical rind. Then these are carried out at longer intervals and the carefully tended cheeses slowly mature, perfectly lined up on spruce shelves.

Most of the Fontina Pdo caves are dug out of the rock. Here the temperature ranges between 10°C and 12°C and the relative humidity level is over 85%, ideal conditions for the slow and gradual maturing of the cheese. After maturing, the cheeses are examined one by one, by the Consortium which safeguards the Pdo, and only those cheeses which meet the quality standards fixed by the production regulations are branded with the characteristic Pdo trademark.

The nutritional characteristics of Fontina Pdo.

- Water: 42%

- Fats: 28% of which (47% in dry substance)

30% unsaturated fatty acids

58% saturated fatty acids

A preponderance of short- and medium-chain fatty acids (more or less equivalent to 14 atoms of Carbon), with low fusion point, therefore not responsible for the cholesterol-genic effect. Palmitic acid (C 16), considered the principle responsible factor for the cholesterol-genic effect, determines a cholesterol value in the Fontina Pdo equivalent to 79,7 mg/100g - not high, similar in fact to those levels found in lean meat and less than in eggs and offal. In addition its quantity diminishes in the Fontina Pdo of the high pastures because of the strong differences in the food of the cows which in turn condition the quality of the milk.

- Protein: 25,3% natural state

- Mineral salts: 4.2% natural state

- Calcium phosphorus ratio is close to 1:1

The 1:1 relationship is considered the most favourable for a correct homeostasis of calcium in the organism and therefore an optimization of the absorption of Calcium introduced with the diet: 100 g of Fontina Pdo gives the body its average daily needs which are particularly important for growth, during pregnancy and breast feeding and for preventing osteoporosis.

- Milk enzymes: 188.437 CFUx103/g comparable with yoghurt

(cfu=colony forming unit)

- Vitamin A: 350 µg/100 g, a sizeable quantity, close to 1/2 of the recommended

daily allowance.

- Sodium: 760 mg/100g

Not particularly high compared to other cheeses or everyday foods such

as bread which contains around 500mg/100g.

The Average nutritional values per 100 g

- Energy value: 370 K cal - 1532 kJ (19% of RDA(1))

- Protein: 25,3 g (51% of RDA(1))

- Carbohydrates: 2,0 g (1% of RDA(1))

Sugar absent

- Fats: 29,0 g (41% of RDA(1))

Saturated fats 18,5 g (92% of RDA(1))

- Fibre absent

- Sodium: 760 mg (32% of RDA(1))

- Calcium: 760 mg (95% of RDA(1))

- Phosphorous: 530 mg (66% of RDA(1))

- Iron: 160 µg (1% of RDA(1))

- Riboflavina: 330 µg (20% of RDA(1))

- Vitamina A: 350 µg (43% of RDA(1))

- Vitamina B12: 1,92 µg (190% of RDA(1))

(1) RDA Recommended Daily Allowance

by S. C.
02 november 2012, World News > Italy

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