European Commission OKs Protected Status For Several More EU Cheese Names
The European Commission has in recent weeks granted either Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) or Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status to cheeses from several EU member countries.
PDO covers agricultural products and foodstuffs which are produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognized know-how, while PGI covers agricultural products and foodstuffs closely linked to a geographical area.
France’s Saint-Marcellin, a small puck-shaped cheese with rounded edges, has been granted PGI status. Saint-Marcellin is made from raw or thermized whole milk whose fat and protein concent has not been standardized.
It comes in two different types, depending on the drying process: “dry” Saint-Marcellin has a dry matter content of more than 44 percent and is made in accordance with the local tradition; and “soft” Saint-Marcellin has a dry matter content of more than 40 percent due to more moderate drying.
Saint-Marcellin, which was originally called “tomme” and was made on farms, naturally found its identity in the town of Saint-Marcellin. The cheese was first officially described in France in 1935 at the request of the producers in the area.
The United Kingdom’s Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar has also been granted PGI status. Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar is made using local milk from the Orkney Islands, following a traditional recipe and process.
Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar differs from other traditional Cheddars due to the unique dry stir technique. Dry stirring is an adaptation of the traditional Cheddar recipe which is carried out after the vat has been pitched onto the finishing table and is achieved by not allowing the curd to bond together after the whey has been run.
Italy’s Pecorino di Picinisco, which is marketed as “scamasciato” (“chamois-like”) and “stagionato” (“matured”), has been granted PDO status. Milk used to produce Pecorino di Picinisco comes exclusively from sheep breeds typical of the production area: Sopravissana, Comisana, Massese or crosses with at least one of these breeds.
A maximum of 25 percent goats’ milk may also be used, from the local flocks of Capra grigia ciociara, Capra bianca monticellana and their crosses. Goat’s milk from one of these breeds has always been used because a minimum number of such goats has traditionally been kept in the flock. Only raw whole milk from one or more milkings may be used for Pecorino di Picinisco PDO.
The other raw materials used also comply with the criteria of respecting local tradition: solid kid or lamb rennet from lactating animals raised in the production area (the entire Comino valley) is used to coagulate the milk.
Also being granted PDO status is Italy’s Puzzone di Moena/Spretz Tzaori, which refers to a semi-hard, soft table cheese with a washed rind. Its flavor is described as strong, intense, slightly and pleasantly salty and/or sharp, with a barely perceptible bitter aftertaste.
The special flavor and aroma of the PDO Puzzone di Moena/Spretz Tzaori cheese is linked to the high quality of the raw milk used. The production method for Puzzone di Moena/Spretz Tzaori involves the particularity of washing the cheeses in tepid water, sometimes with the addition of a little salt. This practice is carried out by the local producers during the maturing process and enables the cheeses to form an unctuous patina on the rind, which progressively changes color from ochre yellow to light or reddish brown.
France’s Rigotte de Condrieu, a small non-standardized cheese made from raw, full-fat goat’s milk, has also been granted PDO status.
Rigotte de Condrieu is characterized by: its small size (small round puck weighing slightly over 30 grams); its delicate surface flora is made up of ivory-colored, white and blue mould; its paste is firm and smooth in texture, without holes and soft when tasted; its mix of flavors, hazelnut, vegetation and whey, and its moderate saltiness.
Slovenia’s Mohant, a soft cheese of a whitish yellow, beige or pale buttery color, with a distinctive piquant, sharp, pungent and very marked smell and taste, has been granted PDO status. Mohant is made from raw cow’s milk produced in the geographical area, which is situated in the heart of the Julian Alps.
Mohant is ripened in large casks under anaerobic conditions. After ripening, it is soft and spreadable, without any rind to protect it from drying and oxidation.
To preserve the characteristic organoleptic properties of Mohant after it has ripened, the cheese must be placed straight from the large casks into its packaging. During anaerobic ripening, gas is produced which causes air pockets to form inside the cheese; it is therefore extremely important that care be taken when placing the cheese into its packaging, and pockets of air, which could cause microbiological deterioration of the product, must be pressed out immediately.