Ormea cheese is made from raw cow’s and goat’s milk, in varying proportions according to availability, using cheesemaking methods typical to the local mountain area. The cheese is traditionally produced in Ormea, in southern Piedmont, in particular in the Stanti Alps. The cheese is produced only in the summer and sold from September. The best known alpine pastures are Stanti, Costa Pra, Archetti, Pian Cavallo, Costa Bella and Viozene Pian Rosso. Historically, these pastures are known as being the best for the variety of locally occuring flora. For all practical purposes, this cheese can be considered a ‘cru’ of the mountain cheeses made in the area.The cheesemaking process is the same as that of the better-known Raschera d’Alpeggio PDO, but until this later cheese was introduced to the market, Ormea cheese was always requested in the Upper Tanaro Valley. The milk is heated to 36°C and animal rennet is added. The curd is then cut into hazelnut-sized pieces, the whey is drained and the curds are cut again before being pressed and dry-salted. Each form is around 25 cm diameter, 8-10 cm high and weighs 5-7 kg. Aging of the cheese takes place in caves. The cheese is produced in both fresh and aged versions: the fresh cheese is soft and without holes, has an aroma of fresh milk and a sweet flavor. The aged cheese is drier and more compact, has a strong and spicy flavor. This cheese is at risk of disappearing due to the abandonment of mountain zones as well as land-use changes in favor of raising cattle for other uses (for meat or to use CAP quotas). There are also economic difficulties due to the low milk yield. The great merit of saving this cheese is also tied to protecting the milk of native cattle breeds, which are traditionally less productive than introduced commercial breeds.
The traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.