The earliest productions codified with the name “Piave” date back to 1960, an era in which Piave cheese was produced in limited quantities and known only in the area of origin. Thanks to its growing success among consumers, the quantity produced has grown to a current production of 350 thousand wheels a year. The fame of this local cheese has travelled beyond the boundaries of Belluno, first to the rest of Veneto and then on to vast areas of northern and central Italy as well as abroad, in particular the United States and Canada.

Aging

Piave is a hard, cooked curd cheese proposed at five ages:
Piave Fresco D.O.P. (20/60 days),
Piave Mezzano D.O.P. (61/180 days)
Piave Vecchio D.O.P. (>180 days),
Piave Vecchio Selezione Oro D.O.P. (>12 months)
Piave Vecchio Riserva D.O.P. (more than 18 months).

The final product is cylindrical in shape with a diameter of 27/32 cm and a height of 7/8cm measured from the outer edge of the heel; the weight varies in relation to the age: about 7.0 kg for Fresco, about 6.5 kg for Mezzano, about 6.0 kg for Vecchio, about 5.8 kg for Selezione Oro and about 5.5 kg for Vecchio Riserva. The rind, which is tender and light coloured in the fresh type, increases in thickness and consistency with aging, becoming hard and ochre in colour in the Vecchio Selezione Oro and Vecchio Riserva types. The curd, compact and free of holes, is very light coloured in the fresh type and takes on an increasingly intense straw colour with aging as the curd becomes more friable, as is typical of grating cheeses.

Origin of the milk

The milk used for the production of Piave comes exclusively from the province of Belluno and at least 80% of it is produced by cattle breeds typical of the production zone: Bruna italiana (Italian Brown), Pezzata Rossa italiana (Italian Red Pied) and Frisona italiana (Italian Friesian or Holstein).
The breeding methods follow traditional criteria based on the ties between the cattle breeds being raised and the territory: stanchion tied stabling is frequent, at times combined with mountain grazing in the summer months and the use of the least costly and most abundant feed available in the territory, namely meadow grass fodder, mostly of spontaneous growth, supplemented with cereals, grains and ensiled grass and corn, as long as of excellent quality.

Nutritional values

Piave, like all typical Belluno cheeses, is a product with excellent nutritional value. The average content of the main elements in 100g of product varies in relation to the degree of aging: for example, 100 g of Piave Vecchio has about 26 g of protein and 35 g of fat with about 452 kcal. Fresh or aged, Piave cheese is a genuine food, high in energy, easily digestible and with important nutritional elements, indispensible at any age.

Piave cheese has become a consolidated element in the diet of the many consumers who want a healthy, well-balanced diet without giving up traditional flavours.

In fact, it is a genuine product thanks to its natural ingredients, essentially fresh milk, milk enzymes, rennet and salt; it is a complete product in terms of nutrition because it contains essential amino-acids, calcium and phosphorous; it is easily digested because during the aging process the biochemical changes make the fats and proteins easily assimilated; finally, it is a product with high allergy tolerance because of the very low concentrations of lactose which has been broken down during the fermentation processes.

Today, as in the past, in the simple but healthy cooking of the Belluno mountains, Piave cheese is the expression of a tradition built around flavour and wholesomeness. It is eaten as a table cheese or used as the basic ingredient for traditional recipes like “formai frit” – fried cheese – served with polenta and cabbage. After ten to twelve months of aging, Piave cheese is also an excellent grating cheese for the taste and characteristics of its curd. It can be used to add flavour to typical Italian dishes.

Glossary

STANCHION TIED STABLING: A form of cattle breeding in open, properly equipped stalls located in large fenced off areas where the animals can roam freely.
MOUNTAIN GRAZING: Transfer to high mountain pastures during the summer months.
POLYPHYTE pastures: Meadows with the presence of a variety of plant species