A Women's Affair
Murazzano 'Toma' cheese
Also known as robiola d’Alba or robiola delle Langhe, the toma di Murazzano is a type of cheese that dates back to ancient times, some even say back to the days of the Celts.
It is, however, strictly linked to the women of the Alta Langa (the area bordering on the region of Liguria, lit. ‘High Langa’); it was their duty to care for the sheep, to see to the production and sale of the cheese. On market day, these countrywomen walked, rode or drove to the village of Murazzano in order to sell their tume to the tradesmen, who would then take them to bigger towns to re-sell them, sometimes even as far as Turin.
Nowadays, it is customary for men to produce Murazzano cheese as well.
The Murazzano is a rich fresh cheese, produced either exclusively with sheep’s milk or with a percentage of cow’s milk (max. 40 %).
The sheep’s milk is predominantly from the native breed, Pecora delle Langhe, which used to be almost extinct. However, thanks to the production of the toma di Murazzano the breed has seen somewhat of a comeback, even if it is still in danger of extinction.
The shape of the Murazzano is cylindrical, with a flat surface of 10-15 centimetres and an edge of about 3-4 centimetres, with a weight that varies from 300-400 grams. The colour of the paste is milky-white, the structure slightly compact but soft, sometimes round-eyed.
The outside is rind-free, milky-white when fresh and straw-coloured when seasoned. The flavour is subtle and fragrant, recalling the sheep’s milk with which it is made.
The milking of the Murazzano sheep takes place twice a day, after which the milk is coagulated at 37 degrees Celsius and added liquid rennet.
The curd is then deposited in cylindrical forms with pierced bottoms called fascelle, which once were made of wood, but are now in aluminium.
After forming the cheese, it is dry salted and then left to season – at least for 6 days – during which the forms are rinsed daily with tepid water.
This traditional cheese is produced and seasoned in about 50 districts in the Alta Langa and has obtained the Italian quality assurance label DOC – Denominazione di origine controllata (controlled designation of origin) and the European DOP – Denominazione di origine protetta (protected designation of origin) and even has its own Consortium with the aim of promoting and protecting the typical dairy product.Any suggestions?
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