Friday, August 28, 2015

Toma Piemontese Cheese

Toma Piemontese is a semi-soft PDO (protected designation of origin) cheese made in the Piedmont region of Northwestern Italy from pasteurized cow milk. Toma is similar to the French tomme, which is a generic name given to a class of cheese made from skim milk left over after the cream has been removed to produce butter and richer cheeses. For example, I've previously tried Tomme de Savoie. The rind is natural and rustic and accrues mold. There are two varieties of Toma Piemontese, one made of regular milk and another from skim milk. I believe ours was made of skim milk. It is one of the oldest cheeses produced in Italy, going back to the Roman Empire. The young cheese is sweet and mild and as it matures it gets a more full and nutty flavor. I found the rind to be a little earthy, and the taste to be a little mushroomy, and very full, filling the whole mouth with taste. A very pleasant smoothness. Judy described an almost "blue" taste, which I did not get, and a bit of an aged taste. We both liked it a lot. 

For whole milk cheese, the cheese from at least two consecutive milkings is left to sit for at least 12 hours. For the skim milk cheese, the milk can sit for up to 24 hours. The surface fat is skimmed off and the milk is poured into a boiler at a temperature of 90 to 95 degrees and calf rennet is added. The rennet curdles the milk and the curd is broken down roughly and left to sit briefly, to allow a discharge of the leftover whey. The curd is broken down further, then heated again to a temperature of 111 to 118 degrees. Breaking down of the curds continues until the lumps are the size of corn for the whole milk cheese, or rice for the skim milk cheese. More whey is separated at this point. The curd is then put into a mould and pressed and allowed to sit for up to 3 days. Then the cheese is salted with coarse salt or in brine. It then seasons in a cellar with a humidity of 85 percent and at a temperature of 43 to 50 degrees. The cheeses are turned occasionally and sometimes washed with a water and salt solution. It is aged for at least 60 days. 

1 comment:

  1. Cheese made from leftovers? Very practical. This is a cheese I could over-indulge in.