Using the alpine cottages in the Ossola Valley for cheese production has been recorded since before the beginning of the first century. The Ossola mountain, even at considerable altitudes, provides open spaces that are well protected from the winds and suited for pasturing animals. The local alpine hut dwellers have made the most of these elements in their production of excellent cheeses. The most famous Ossola alpine hut is the Bettelmatt in the high Val Formazza in the north of the area. Today, the alpine pasture name can be found in cheeses from other alpine pastures in the same area such as Toggia, Kastel, Sangiatto, Lago Vannino, Alpe Forno and Poiala. Since the summer season of 2003, the Bettelmatt alpine pasture toma bear their name fire-branded on the cheese wheels to distinguish them from the widespread counterfeit versions.
Other great Ossola alpine pastures can be found in the nearby Val Bognanco, Val Divedro, Val di Campo and Valle Antrona. They have a very limited production with only a few hundred cheese-wheels produced every year, made in July and August and brought down to the valleys on donkeys or, over the past few years, by helicopter.
Serving suggestions: full-bodied, red wines. Aromatic honey. Fresh fruit (Passacrassana pears). Black rye bread and polenta
Taste: very intense, flavourful with traces of alpine herbs and stable
Aspect and texture: compact, intense yellow paste with small or larger elongated holes
Milk: full fat, raw, cow’s milk
Ripening: at least 60 days
Production period: summer