Toma Piemontese PDO is a semi-cooked cheese produced with whole cow’s milk or semi-skimmed milk for the Semigrasso (medium fat variety).
The milk must come from at least two consecutive milkings, possibly from one milking for the whole milk cheese, and should be left to rest for up to 12 hours for the cheese made with whole milk, and up to a maximum of 24 hours for the Medium Fat cheese.
The milk is separated and skimmed, and the mass is put in a boiler and brought to the temperature at which it curdles, with the addition of calf rennet; the mass must be continuously stirred. The curd is broken once, then again, until the grains are the size of corn kernels for whole milk cheese, or rice grains for the Medium Fat cheese. The curd is then left to rest before being placed in molds, pressed and left to drain.
This is followed by salting with large grain salt by hand, or brining. The forms are then ripened in traditional caves or other suitable places, for at least 15 days if the weight is less than 6 kg and for at least 60 days if the weight is superior.
Apparence and flavour
Toma Piemontese PDO has a cylindrical shape, flat or almost flat surfaces, with a slightly convex edge and a weight between 1.8 and 8 kg.
The soft cheese has an elastic and smooth rind, with a colour ranging from pale straw yellow to pinkish-brown, depending on the level of ripening.
The cheese is a whitish straw yellow colour, with a smooth texture and tiny, evenly distributed eyes.
The flavour is sweet and pleasant, slightly acidulous and salty; the aroma is delicate.
The semi-hard and medium fat cheeses have a less elastic rind, with a colour ranging from deep straw yellow to pinkish-brown.
The cheese is white or straw yellow in colour and has tiny, well-distributed eyes.
Its flavour is intense and harmonious with a fragrant aroma.
Toma Piemontese PDO should be conserved on the least cold shelf of the fridge, at a temperature of 4°C, taking care to keep it wrapped in its original packaging and sealed in a container. Due to its particular characteristics, this product lends itself especially well as a table cheese, but is also a useful ingredient in many dishes.
It is usually paired with young sparkling wines.
The product is marketed as Toma Piemontese PDO and Toma Piemontese PDO Semigrasso (medium fat).
It is sold whole, in large pieces, or in pre-packed slices. Its surface must bear a label indicating the designation, product logo, European logo and the dairy’s ID number and may also display the words “Latte Crudo” (raw milk).
Toma Piemontese PDO is ripened in areas that have the same climatic conditions as the stone carved caves where the cheese used to be ripened in the past.
During this stage, the cheese is turned often, at the same time rubbing the surface with a mixture of water and salt.
The origins of Toma Piemontese PDO are rooted in Roman times, although citations identifying precise characteristics can only be found in documents from the year 1.000 A.D onwards. Written testimonies demonstrate that during the XIV century Toma cheese is mainly present in the Piedmont region. The Semi-hard cheese came about from the necessity to recuperate part of the cream used for making butter.
The production area of Toma Piemontese PDO is within the provinces of Novara, Verbania-Cusio-Ossola, Vercelli, Biella, Turin and Cuneo and several municipal areas in the provinces of Asti and Alessandria, in the Piedmont region.