Italian Flavors: Robiola di Roccaverano
- WTI Magazine #94 Aug 19, 2017
The origins of Robiola di Roccaverano date back to the Celtic-Ligurian period.Its name recalls the Latin term “robium”, referring to the reddish colour of the outer part of the cheese, and the name of the town of Roccaverano in Asti, where this product originated.
A manuscript signed by the priest Pistone in 1899 relates the history of the parish of Roccaverano and its hamlets from 960 to 1860.In addition to historical information of political interest, it also contains economic details that highlight the importance of Robiola di Roccaverano. It is written in this manuscript that five annual fairs were held in the municipality of Roccaverano.
These occasions were an opportunity to sell “excellent Robiola cheeses” for export.It makes explicit mention of export because in those times Roccaverano Robiola was already well known way beyond national borders.
It emerges from this that even in those times, Robiola di Roccaverano was not considered to be just any generic cheese, precisely because of the features that set it apart from other cheeses.
Robiola di Roccaverano is the only Italian DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) cheese that can be exclusively from goat’s milk, goat’s and cow’s milk and goat’s and sheep’s milk. Whatever the combination, at least 50% of the milk must be from goats, and the remaining 50% can be from sheep or cow.
It is a soft cheese and its maturity depends on the microflora present in the milk, which is always used raw, without any additional cultures. The cows, goats and sheep must be fed green or preserved forage.
The current standards forbid the use of GM feed. Animal rennet is added to the milk after the acidification begins, then it is left to rest at the same temperature for a coagulation period lasting from 8 to 36 hours. Next, the sour curd is delicately transferred to special perforated moulds with a base. It remains there for 48 hours, during which time it is periodically turned to encourage the whey to drain. The two faces of the product are dry salted during the turning or at the end of the shaping process.
Robiola di Roccaverano DOP can be sold after it has been in the moulds for four days, or it may be left to mature further, and it is considered refined after the tenth day spent in the moulds. Robiola di Roccaverano DOP made in this artisanal fashion can be stored for up to 6 months in glass jars with oil or by putting the wheels of cheese in straw.
By Consorzio per la Tutela del Formaggio Robiola di Roccaverano