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Malga Bellunese Cheese

It is a half-cooked cheese with a medium height (5-8 cm) and a medium maturation, going from at least 60 days to about 8 months. It has a cylindrical and regular size, with a diameter going from 25 to 40 cm, side height between 5 and 10 cm and a weight going from 2 to 7 kg. The rind is not regular and has a variable color, from straw yellow to darker colors given by the presence of characteristic molds. The color of the texture goes from white to intense yellow and is not always regular. The cheese is characterized by irregular or very irregular and marked holes. The characteristic taste is rather marked and tends to have a smoky aftertaste, given by the place of production. The mature cheese composition  includes approximately the following average values: calcium 0.68% - fat 19.35% - proteins 21.82% - humidity 33.07%. The milk is heated to a temperature of about 32-40°C, adding powder or liquid rennet, and the curd forms after 30-50 minutes. At this point, the curd is broken with a special tool, called "spino manuale" (manual curd knife), and brought to the size of a grain of corn. After lighting the fire with wood, the operator cooks the curd at 42-46°C; afterwards, the product is extracted through cloths, the whey is left dropping, and the cheese is put into moulds that are covered with dry cloths, with wooden boards on and under them. On the upper board, loads are added to press the moulds and let the remaining whey come out. They remain in this position for 24 hours. Later, the moulds are plunged into brine at 15% for 36 hours or, as it happens in some malghe (in the 20% of the cases), they are dry salted, rubbing their surface with salt once a day for 4-5 days. Maturation takes place in 30-35 days in places at a temperature of 10-13°C and with a high humidity.

(photo by: PN Dolomiti Bellunesi)
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