Montasio is a very well known and popular cheese in the production areas and in the neighboring regions. It takes its name from the homonymous Montasio massif in Friuli, where, in ancient times, it was produced in mountain pastures. Today the production area is wider and includes Friuli-Venezia Giulia and some areas of the Veneto territory: the provinces of Belluno and Treviso and part of those of Padua and Venice.
Montasio mezzano is a semi-hard cheese that, in accordance with the provisions of the product specification, can only be obtained with cow's milk harvested in the areas authorized for processing. The name of this cheese and the entire production process are registered and protected at Community level since 12 June 1996 by the Protected Designation of Origin, PDO, thanks also to the work of the Consortium for the protection of Montasio Cheese founded in 1984.
The Montasio cheese is available in three varieties:
- fresh with about 60 days of seasoning;
- mezzano, aged for over 4 months and characterized by a stronger flavor and aroma;
- seasoned, with over 10 months of seasoning and known for its slightly spicy aromatic taste.
Montasio cheese is produced in Friuli Venezia Giulia since the thirteenth century: the Benedictine friars were engaged in the production of food stocks and in Moggio Udinese, on the Montasio massif, they hosted the first productions made by the local dairymans. This cheese has been produced for a long time especially for family and local use in the valleys of the Giulie and Carniche Alps.
We must wait until 1775 to have documentary evidence of the production and sale of Montasio.
At the end of the 1800s the first cooperative and turnaround dairies gave a significant boost to the production and diffusion of this and other local cheeses. But it is about 40 years later that, thanks also to the foundation of the school for technicians in San Vito, Montasio becomes a real product for the market made with uniform technique.
The whole working process takes place, according to the specification, according to this sequence:
- heating of the milk collected at a temperature of 32-36 °C;
- addition of the selected natural graft / ferment included in the Consortium's list of authorizations;
- addition of rennet for milk coagulation;
- breaking the curd, cooking at 42-48 ° C and spinning for about 30 minutes;
- extraction of the curd, pressing and turning of the shapes;
- salting dry or in brine, saturated solution of water and salt;
The Montasio mezzano after 4 to 10 months of maturation shows a compact yellow texture and has a full taste even if still aromatic and not spicy. Like other foods in the same category it is a good source of protein, accounting for 26% of weight, and also fat, 33% of weight. The caloric intake of a 50 g portion is about 200 kcal.
Like all medium-aged cheeses a portion can be the main source of protein of the meal at least 1 or 2 times a week but the significant salt content suggests avoiding using this flavor in other dishes and prefer salads dressed with spices and unsalted bread.
How to eat
Excellent served as it is, with a slice of toasted crispy bread, but also in the typical Friulian recipe: frico. Potatoes, onions and montasio: this is what is needed to make this recipe served as a main course or a single dish, especially in Carnia. Grated potatoes, onions and chopped Montasio are mixed and cooked in a pan to obtain a golden crispy "spianata" on both sides.
I formaggi italiani: Storia, tecniche di preparazione, abbinamenti e degustazione Piero Maffeis HOEPLI EDITORE - 192 pagine
Guida essenziale all'acquisto dei formaggi italiani Alberto Marcomini Giunti - 272 pagine
Disciplinare di Produzione della Denominazione di Origine Protetta “Montasio” Regione Veneto. https://www.regione.veneto.it/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=75383aa2-6a87-46d3-a9a8-1757d5a2ebd9&groupId=10701 (accesso del 27.09.2018)
Il Consorzio per la tutela del formaggio Montasio. http://www.formaggiomontasio.it/ProxyVFS.axd/null/r11077? (accesso del 27.09.2018)
La cucina del Friuli. Emilia Valli Newton Compton Editori 2012