Typical Italian cheeses: Fontina DOP

Typical Italian cheeses: Fontina DOP

Fontina DOP - Origins and production area

There are numerous testimonies on the presence of a thriving dairy business present in the Aosta Valley since very ancient times. Documents dating back to the 13th century speak in an explicit way of the cheeses produced on site. The first writing found in the archive of the Gran San Bernardo hospice where the term fontina appears dates back to 1717.
The Consortium of protection is responsible for the ink marking of any shape that meets the quality standards required by law.
Production area: Aosta Valley.
The Protected Designation of Origin was recognized on June 12, 1996.

Fontina DOP (

Fontina DOP - Characteristics and production phases

Type of cheese: soft and sweet.
The milk used for the production of Fontina, made from Pezzata Rossa and Pezzata Nera Valdostana cows, must be processed within two hours of milking at the latest, otherwise the forms will not be perfectly successful.
The milk of each single milking is used without any skimming. It is placed in a boiler, coagulated and still worked today using centuries-old techniques. Any heat treatment (pasteurization) intended to reduce the microbial load is also excluded. They benefit from the flavor, aroma and quality of the cheese. The fresh forms are salted and placed in the ripening rooms.
Seasoning lasts on average 4-5 months, when the product takes on its typical sweet, delicate taste and the soft and melting consistency of the pasta. In the first three months the forms, placed on fir wood shelves, are turned daily, alternating one day of salting and one day of cleaning the surfaces with brushes moistened with salt water. When the molds have absorbed about 2% of salt, the dry salting phase ends (more used than the brine one), while the regular surface cleaning operations continue until complete maturation. This, signaled by the progressive darkening of the crust until it assumes a typical brown color, occurs in rooms with peculiar characteristics. Temperature and humidity must be suitable to favor a whole series of biochemical transformations essential for cheese to acquire certain organoleptic characteristics (tunnels, caves, former military bunkers and abandoned mines are often used.
The shapes are cylindrical and flattened (diameter 30-45 cm and height 7-10 cm). The average weight is 8-10 kg but can reach 18 kg. The rind is thin and varies in color from ocher yellow to dark brown. The paste is soft, but consistent and elastic, with a more intense straw color in the cheeses produced in summer. The taste, sweet, also shows considerable variations depending on the degree of maturation and the pastures of origin. It is however always delicate and never spicy or bitter.

Fontina DOP - Gastronomy and recommended wines

The particular consistency of the pasta that melts at 60 ° C has made it the main ingredient of the Fondue. Fontina is also an excellent table cheese (despite its high fat content).
Recommended wines for matching: Aosta Valley Chambave Rosso, Aosta Valley Donnas, Aosta Valley Nus Rosso and Aosta Valley Pinot Nero.

Fontina Producers Consortium
Piazza Arco dAugusto, 10
11100 Aosta

Production regulations

This specification regulates the production, seasoning and portioning of the Fontina Protected Designation of Origin cheese.
La Fontina is a semi-cooked fatty cheese made with whole cow's milk from one milking.

Article 2
Production area
The production, aging and portioning area of ​​Fontina cheese is the inter-territory of the Aosta Valley.

Article 3
Raw material
Milk destined for processing in Fontina must be produced in the Aosta Valley and have the following requirements:
- raw,
- whole,
- coming from a single milking,
- of bovine belonging to the Valle d'Aosta breed (red spotted, black spotted, brown), fed according to the provisions of Art. 4.

Article 4
The feeding of dairy products must consist of hay and green grass produced in Valled’Aosta.
It is possible to use concentrated feed compliant with current legislation.
The use of the foods listed below is permitted within the limits of the quantities alongside each indicated expressed as a percentage of the total formulation of the concentrate of the part:
- higher quality sunflower meal, that is, with a protein content of over 30% and fiber 28% on which it is, in a ratio not exceeding 10%;
- Organic certified flax, corn and soybean panels (in a ratio not exceeding 10%; if combined with whole soy, their sum must be less than 10%);
- glutinated semolina of corn, in a ratio not exceeding 10%;
- whole soya, in a ratio not exceeding 5%; if in combination with the organic soiacertificate panel, their sum must be less than 10%;
- soy husks, in a ratio not exceeding 10%;
- chard pulps, in a ratio not exceeding 10% provided that in the form of virgin tapes;
- protein pea, in a ratio not exceeding 10%;
- calcium carbonate 2%.
Silage or fermented fodder and the following foods are prohibited:
Panels other than those indicated in point 2.
Extraction flours: peanut, rapeseed, rapeseed, cotton, tomato, poppy, palm kernel, olives, almonds, walnuts.
Animal protein flours: fish, meat, blood, slaughtering by-products.
Bone meal, bone fat, vegetable oils (excluding vitamin preparations in oily vehicle), pomace.
Cotton, vetch, fenugreek, lupine, rapeseed, rapeseed, castor, beans, lentils, tomatoes, poppy, tobacco.
Carob, cassava, tapioca, rutabaga, rape, potato, fresh beetroot and fresh by-products (leaves and collars), olives and by-products (pomace, pastazzi), vegetables in general (cabbage, leeks, salads), turnips, fresh tomatoes and by-products ( plants, skins), fresh or dried fruit of any origin and nature (apples, pears, peaches, grapes, citrus fruits).
Sugar and confectionery industry: sucrose, glucose, fermentation residues (brands, yeasts), molasses (allowed as a binder for pellets in less than 3%).
Rice industry: rice and by-products (chaff, virgin chaff, farinaccio, husk, rice, granaverde hegem of rice).
Wine, beer and distillation industry: pomace, grape seed, lees, borlande.
All by-products of the food, slaughtering and dairy industries are also prohibited.
Urea, ammonium salts, beet protein concentrate (CPB), all types of borlande.
Antibiotics, hormones and / or stimulants, fermentation media, silica, chemically treated straw, dry or fresh bread.

Article 5
Before coagulation, the milk must not have undergone heating above 36 ° C.
Native lactic acid bacteria cultures (called ferments) can be added to the milk; they are kept under the responsibility of the Producers Consortium and Protection from the PDO Fontina, which freely releases them to all producers of Fontina DOP.
The coagulation of the milk takes place in copper or steel boilers, by adding calf rennet. The procedure must take place at a temperature between 34 ° C and 36 ° C and must last at least 40 minutes.
The clot must then be broken up to obtain curd granules of a size comparable to the corn grain.
Subsequently, the pinning on fire must take place which must reach a temperature between 46 ° C and 48 ° C.
The spinning must be completed out of focus until the cheesemaker decides that the curd granulides are sufficiently purged.
After a rest phase, in any case not less than 10 minutes, the extraction and bundling takes place, i.e. the wrapping of the cheese mass in cloths which must be placed in the typical concave barefoot molds that are stacked and placed under a press.
At the first turn, a casein plate must be applied, the characteristics of which are indicated in art.10, bearing an identification code of the shape and the graphic identifying element of the product.
Before the last pressing phase, the identification plate must be applied, as required by article 10, bearing the manufacturer's number assigned by the Consortium appointed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
The pressing phase continues until the next processing. During this interval, the forms must be turned inside out to facilitate the bleeding of the cheese mass.
At the end of the pressing phase, within 24 hours and for a period not exceeding 12 hours, the molds can be subjected to the brine operation by placing the tanks containing a solution of water and salt.

Article 6
Turning over, salting and rubbing of the shapes during the seasoning
The turning, salting and rubbing of the single shapes are performed in the following way. The shape is extracted from the shelf and turned over for salting the face that rested on the shelf, through the broadcast distribution of a light layer of salt.
After this operation, the shape is placed again on the shelf shelf.
Once the salt has been dissolved, the form is extracted to be rubbed on the previously salted side and on the side by means of brushes and a solution of water and salt; it is then placed on the shelf in its original position.
This sequence of operations, which takes place in the maturing warehouses, allows to treat both sides of the shape, favoring the correct development of the rind: the operator in charge of the aforementioned operations assesses the need to perform one or the other operation based on the characteristics of the individual forms to be treated.

Article 7
Seasoning warehouses
Maturation must take place in warehouses with the following characteristics:
- humidity at least 90%;
- temperature between 5 and 12 ° C.
The humidity and temperature conditions referred to in the previous point can be found both in warehouses that use conditioning technologies and in caves traditionally used for cheese maturation.

Article 8.
Product characteristics
Fontina product must possess the chemical, physical, microbiological and organoleptic characteristics described in the following paragraphs.
Physical characteristics:
a) cylindrical typically flattened
b) flat faces
c) bare in concave origin, not always detectable when ripe
a) diameter between 35 and 45 cm
b) variable height between 7 and 10 cm
c) variable weight between 7.5 and 12 kg
a) compact, light to dark brown color depending on the conditions of
maturation and maturing duration.
b) Soft or semi-hard with the aging process
c) thin
a) elastic and soft in relation to the production period
b) characteristic holes and dispersed in the shape
c) color varying from ivory to more or less intense straw yellow
Chemical characteristics: the percentage of fat must be at least 45% of the substance dry.
Microbiological characteristics: high content in live lactic ferments.
Organoleptic characteristics: the melting paste in the mouth has a characteristic sweet and delicate flavor, more intense with the progress of maturation.

Article 9.
The natural factors are connected with the typical mountain environment of the Region, determining the peculiar qualities of the raw material that are directly reflected in the characteristics of the cheese.
As far as human factors are concerned, we note the traditional breeding of the autochthonous breed as well as the continuity of the milk processing technique with the diffusion of the product on the consumer markets, mainly in northern Italy.

Article 10.
Identification of the product
The traceability elements present on the form are:
the casein plaque, the identifier "Fontina Protection Consortium" (with the acronym "CTF") and the brand.
The casein plaque bears an alphanumeric code identifying the shape and is located on the bottom of the shape.
The stamps of the "Consorzio Tutela Fontina" identifiers (with the acronym CTF) also show a numerical identification code of the manufacturer. The molds are made of plastic and rectangular in shape (10 x 7.5 cm) and are applied to one of the flat faces of the mold during the pressing phase, after which they are removed.
The molds described above are distributed by the Consortium to all those who operate in compliance with the production specifications of Fontina D.O.P.
The brand is stamped on the forms having the characteristics referred to in Article 8 and at least 80 days of maturation starting from the day of production after the check with positive result carried out by the control structure.

Article 11.
Conditioning and labeling
Fontina is portioned in the production area only, as defined in Article 2 in order to ensure that the characteristics of the product are maintained by the final consumer. LaFontina has a moist rind and a moisture content of the pasta such as for storage, storage and packaging methods are extremely delicate, to be carried out quickly, maintaining environmental conditions
ideal (temperature and humidity) and dedicating particular care in the treatment of shapes by operators. The rapidity in the various phases allows to minimize the risk of mold development on the rind and inside the pasta. In fact, the development of molds, in addition to producing abnormal colors of the crust caused by the development of fungal mycelia, easily compromises the integrity of the thin crust, causing a consequent alteration of the properties of the pasta, i.e. an abnormal coloring and a strong unpleasant taste, characteristics not appreciated to the final consumer.
The portioned product label must include:
- the distinctive DOP brand identified in Art. 13.
- community logo
- the words "Mountain product" and "Produit de montagne".

Article 12.
Inspection body
The control for the application of the provisions of the following specification is carried out by an authorized body, in accordance with the provisions of Article 11 of Regulation (EC) N. 510 of 20 March 2006. This structure is the CSQA Certification Control Body Via S. Gaetano, 74, THIENE (VI) 36016, Tel. +39.0445.313011-Fax. + 39.0445.313070, email: [email protected]

Article 13.
Brand characteristics
The graphic characteristics of the brand are described below:
- "FONTINA": writing made in paths, vector drawing.
- "DOP": font used Univers Black Extended.
- At the center of the composition appears the stretch of a stylized mountain above the Fontina inscription. Under the wording DOP inserted in an ellipse.
- All the elements making up the complete DOP Fontina brand are considered inseparable.
For the use of this trademark, positive use on any background or surface sufficiently light to maintain total readability is mandatory.
In the case of printing or reproduction on gray, uneven or otherwise dark sheets, negative use is necessary.
For color printing, the reference color is Pantone 1535 CVC.

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