Misto pecora fresco dei Berici cheese
Misto pecora fresco dei Berici is a semi-soft mixed milk (cows' milk 80%, ewes' milk 20%) cheese produced in the municipalities of Mossano and Montegalda in the province of Vicenza which is in the Veneto region of Italy. Mixed sheep’s milk cheese has been produced in the region for a long time as mixed farming (sheep and cows) has always been common in rural farmsteads. Production of this cheese and the sheep-farming tradition in Vicenza are the subject of the book "L'allevamento ovi-caprino nel Veneto" (Sheep and Goat farming in Veneto) by Emilio Pastore and Luigi Fabbris (1999).
The cheese is soft and rubbery, pale yellow, with no fissures. The rind is thin and rubbery. The cheese has a cylindrical form and is 6-7 cm in height and 14-18 cm in diameter, with a weight that varies between 250g to 2 kg. It has a delicate, mild flavour.
Ewes' milk (20%) and cows' milk (80%) are mixed together and heated in a caliera (vat) to a temperature of 30-35°C (the lower the temperature, the softer the cheese), after which cajo (rennet) is added. When the milk coagulates (after about 12 minutes), the curds are broken, first coarsely and then into nut-sized pieces. If the cheese is to be aged, the curds are broken into the size of rice grains. The calièra is then put back on the heat and the liquid is heated at 33°C for 5-6 minutes so that the curds, stirred with a mescolo or rissola, combine together. The caliera is then taken off the heat and allowed to stand for 10 minutes, in order for the curds to form a compact mass. The cooked cajà (curds) are then extracted and poured into fassare (moulds), where they are lightly pressed. The leftover whey can be used to make a particular kind of mixed sheep’s milk ricotta. The curds are dry-salted, directly on the surface of the cheese, and left covered in salt for 12 hours. They are removed from the fassare after 48 hours. The cheese is then left to ripen and is turned after the first 15 days. The grosta (rind) forms after one week and from this moment on the cheese can be washed, even several times in order to clean off any residue.
The cheese can be found in dairies, “malghe" (mountain huts), “agriturismi" (holiday farms) and in small retailers throughout Vicenza and neighbouring areas.
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