Fossa Cheese is a particular Cheese from Centre of Italy
The peculiarity of the Fossa Cheese is that it is aged for three months in typical “fosse”.
A “Fossa” is a special cavity, oval or round shaped, carved into the rock or tuff.
Cheese inside fossa during this period undergoes a second fermentation that gives it a special flavor.
Fossa Cheese is produced mainly in Emilia, Marche and Umbria, but also in Tuscany.
In the kitchen is used alone or is used as an ingredient of typical soups in Romagna (cappelletti, passatelli) or it is grated over dishes.
It can also be eaten alone, better if in combination with honey or jam. In Italy Fossa Cheese is used to accompany various dishes, especially pasta and first courses. It goes well with red wines intense and fine or sweet passito or with marsala.
Among the original areas of production of the Fossa Cheese we can remember Sogliano sul Rubicon (FC), where the tradition is older, but also famous is Talamello (RN), where the tradition is to “infoss” the cheese once a year; and also Sant’Agata Feltria. Today, by extension, it is produced in several municipalities of Montefeltro and Val Metauro.
Fossa Cheese PDO since 2009
Since 2009 the name of Fossa Cheese from Talamello and Sogliano was recognized Protected Designation of Origin PDO. The cheese ripening technique in mass has very ancient origin, and they are found even in track inventories of 1400.
The fossas pits, widespread not only in Romagna, were to be found in many homes and continued to be used until today. In autumn the place of preservation of cheese, pits at different times served to store grain reserves and also to protect it from looting by soldiers.
The traditional period to bury the cheese – called “infossatura”- was late August to September; and the traditional reopening of the pits took place on November 25, St. Catherine’s Day. The cheese producer also rented the pit for the time that was necessary to seasoning, three months or a maximum of 100 days. The cheese was placed, as is done today, in cloth bags and covered with hay straw to insulate it from the air.
Festival of Sogliano Fossa Cheese at Rubicon and of Talamello
The “Festival of Sogliano Fossa Cheese at Rubicon is held every year in the last two Sundays in November and early December. During the festival is specially set up the market for Fossa Cheese. During the festival you can directly visit companies that seasoned cheese and Fossas are kept open to the public.
Also in Talamello is held every year the Fair of Fossa Cheese. The Talamello Fossa Cheese Fair is held in two Sundays of November (usually the second and the third).
The Consortium for the protection of the Fossa cheese www.agraria.it describes the process of cheese-making leading to definition of its organoleptic characteristics: Caciotta Pit – cylindrical weight from 600 to 1800 grams – is made with milk whole sheep or with addition of cow’s milk (max 50%) – cheesemaking with or without pasteurization.
The lack of oxygen inside the pit gives origin to an anaerobic fermentation process that leads to degradation of the lipid fraction and to the formation of fatty acids and especially in short-chain and to the fermentation of lactose.
Fermentation degrading part of the protein fraction and lipid makes them particularly digestible, the Fossa Cheese also contains high concentrations of lactic ferments.