The Vaciarin Valsesiano is a fresh, raw cow’s milk cheese with no rind. It has a cylindrical and irregular shape, with a diameter of about 20-25 cm and a weight between 300 and 400 gr. It has a consistency similar to a white pudding: it has an acidic flavour and an intense aroma of fresh milk.
It is produced by heating whole milk to 37°C, and then adding rennet. The curd is broken and left in rather coarse pieces, after which the final product is collected in the special "fuscelle" (cheese containers), which used to be made of wood. After only 3-4 hours it is ready to be eaten, but in some cases it is salted on the surface and left to mature for in the fridge 10 days. It is therefore preferably eaten fresh with the addition of oil, salt and aromatic herbs; if mature, it can be served with jams or mostarda fruits.
The Vaciarin can be produced and eaten all year round, although the cheese produced in the summer months is tastier and more fragrant, since the cows graze on fresh grass and fragrant flowers during this season.
This is one of the most typical and ancient cheeses produced in Valsesia. Its history is lost in time and its production has been handed down from generation to generation. If there was even just one cow in the homes of farming families, Vaciarin was produced using the small amount of milk available. The peculiarity, and consequently the wide diffusion of this product, is how easy it is to produce. Being a derivative of raw milk, the rennet could be added to the fresh milk, taking advantage of its warm temperature.
As it does not need to be heated, wood is not needed to make a fire. This was an advantage, especially in mountain pastures over 1800 metres above sea level, where wood was scarce. At home it was mainly produced by the women, who could have a fresh cheese ready on the table in 3-4 hours.
The Valsesia was traditionally consumed by the poor, and the valley has always had little contact with the outside world. In fact, shepherds in the area had the custom of not adding salt to the cheese, since salt came from far away and was expensive.
Today, the Vaciarin Valsesiano is produced in small quantities and exclusively by small producers. Since it is a very fresh cheese, with no preservatives added and must be eaten within a few hours, it is not suitable for industrial production and large-scale distribution. This cheese has to be bought directly from the producer, just as it was in the past.