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Piave Vecchio
Piave Vecchio is one of Italy’s great mountain cheeses. All photography courtesy FormaggioPiave.it.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

JEFF SHEARER is Procurement Manager at Mandi Foods, Inc.

 

 

October 2010

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Cheese-Butter-Yogurt

Piave Vecchio Cheese

A Great Italian Mountain Cheese

 

CAPSULE REPORT: One of the world’s most popular mountain cheeses, Piave is made in the Italian alps. This focuses on the aged variety known as Piave Vecchio. This is Page 1 of a two-page article. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

Overview

As the long summer days turn over to the cooler nights of autumn, our food choices move away from the fresh cheeses and lighter dishes to more of the hearty cheeses, roasts and casseroles. Fall is a great time to enjoy Havarti, Gouda, Cheddar, Brie and Camembert.

For me, Piave Vecchio is one of the best of the fall cheeses (its younger sibling, Piave, is a favorite of THE NIBBLE’s Wine Editor).

Piave Vecchio History

Piave Vecchio is made from cow’s milk at the Lattebusche dairy cooperative in the Piave River Valley in the Dolomite mountain range of the Italian Alps.

The name Piave Vecchio and the current recipe were created in 1960 by dairy masters at the co-op. It has since gained a worldwide fan base. However, for hundreds of years at least, cheese with a similar recipe has been made in the mountain valley.

The cheese gets its name from the Piave River, which flows through the valley. The name means old (aged) Piave cheese.

  Piave Vecchio Cows
Cows grazing in the Piave River Valley. The delicious grass, clover and wildflowers in the pastures create extra-tasty milk.

Producing Piave Vecchio Cheese

What makes Piave so distinctive is that it is made from the cow’s milk of two milkings instead of one—as with Parmigiano Reggiano, which it resembles as it ages. The evening milk’s cream is removed by skimming. The skimmed milk is then mixed with the whole morning milk,* to create a very distinctive cheese.

  • Piave Fresco is released after two to six months of ripening. Its flavor is already complex, nutty and floral, but it retains the the sweet, creamy flavor and texture of a young cheese.
  • Piave Vecchio is aged from 10 to 12 months, gaining more character as it matures. It still has a sweet taste, but a sharp bite has developed. It is intense, in the most positive sense.
  • Piave Stravecchio ages for 12 to 18 months and is firmer, drier and sharper than Piave Vecchio. The extra aging creating a cheese that tastes like a young Parmigiano Reggiano.

The hearty mountain cheese is produced in 15-pound wheels that are just two inches high. But there’s a lot of flavor packed into those two inches!

 
After the curds are formed into wheels, they get a saline bath to flavor the cheese.

*The difference between morning milk and evening milk: Morning milk has slightly more butterfat.

Continue To Page 2: The Flavors Of Piave Vecchio & Recipes


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