Castelmagno is a cheese of ancient origin. It has been made since the year 1000 and gets its name from the area in which it is produced. The quality of the cheese is determined by the quality of the pastures where it is made. Fresh cheese from the pastures and meadows is given to the Piedmont cows, (razza piemontese). The milk from these cows is, in turn, used to make Castelmagno. A small amount of sheep and goat’s milk is used in making the cheese as well.
To make Castelmagno, raw milk is heated to about 100°F, then liquid rennet is added to coagulate the milk. Once coagulated, the curd is broken and left to rest for 35 minutes. The curd is then collected in a cloth, lightly pressed and hung to drip for about 12 hours. The mass of curd is then placed in a wooden container and left to rest for 2 to 5 days. It is then mixed again and pressed for another 10 minutes. Finally, it is placed in the fascere, or cheese molds, under pressure for 1 to 3 days. Once the cheese is removed from the molds, it is salted and placed in humid cheese caves or in cellars to age for 2 to 5 months.
The cylindrical wheels of Castelmagno can weigh from 5 to 15 lbs. The rind is reddish and thin, but thickens with aging. The paste, or the interior of the cheese, is quite crumbly and its color varies from whitish-yellow, to golden yellow with blue veins. The cheese is produced year-round.
Castelmagno is traditionally used to make bruss, which is a sort of creamed cheese fermented in whey and mixed with grappa or genepy, an alpine liqueur. The cheese is stored in a terracotta container called a toupino, and is served spread on bread of polenta.