The Orobics have always been the epicenter of stracchini production, a type of dairy product which extended throughout Lombardy and Italy due to transhumance of the Orobic breeder-dairy farmers, forced to winter on the plains. To the extraordinary basic techniques – warm working, expert use of varying temperatures in the maturing stage, crust treatment – the cheese makers added their flair producing a cluster of products – crescenza, quartirolo, robiola, taleggio, gorgonzola, salva, strachítunt, old-fashioned stracchino of various geographical origins – with very differing tastes and sales destinations.
But not only stracchini
Our dairy farmers became masters in the production of fatty hard and semi-hard mountain paste of long and very long seasoning period which has no equal anywhere else in the world.
Stracchini in fact represented the winter production. Fatty cheese on the other hand represented the typical and more widely diffused mountain production certainly not exclusive to the Orobics, but only here reached maximum perfection due to two fundamental elements: the close link to the mountains and the special approach to seasoning due to the addition of goat milk.
Another specialty of Orobic dairy products is the use of ageing in caves.
This, especially in the case of stracchini, is intrinsic to the production phase which takes advantage of the Karsic geology and particularly the characteristics of the cold air currents emanating from the rocks.
The production of “mascherpa” is also connected to the production of fatty cheese.
In the western Orobic mountains, maschèrpa (fatty ricotta) is still being produced according to an ancient technique to be found nowhere else. Obtained immediately upon having been separated from the whey with a copper skimmer, it is placed in perforated small wooden buckets (garocc’) to clean the sheeting. Once it solidifies, it is placed on wooden axels and left to air in ventilated rooms so as to lose most of the water. This drying technique is truly unique in that in the Alpine context, ricotta, in order to be preserved, is smoked.
Transhumance has left on the Orobic mountain pastures not only great cheese productions but also an articulated and unique architectural system of mountain huts, casere, calec and barech (dry wall constructions). These were places for breeding and for the exclusive production of the Orobic cheeses.
Books and musical scores were scattered everywhere, amidst the leftovers of a cold lunch; here and there bottles, some full and others less so; on the desk there was a hasty draft of a new quartette; in another corner, the remains of a breakfast; on the piano the sketching of a noble symphony; further away, a sheet waiting to be returned to its owner; letters all over the floor; between the windows a good Stracchino cheese (text in Italian)-
Source: J. Bennet, “Beethoven the man”, in The musical times and singing-class circular, April 1, 1887. Pp 201-204