Piave is a hard, cooked DOP cheese made in the province of Belluno the northernmost part of the Veneto region in north-eastern Italy exclusively from the finest quality raw materials. It is distinguished by its flavour: sweet and intense, never spicy, with a full aroma reminiscent of Alpine herbs and flowers.
The production technique for Piave DOP cheese has been handed down from generation to generation in the Belluno area and its origins date back to the end of the 19th century, when the first mountain “turnarie” dairies in Italy were established.
Fresh bellunese milk
The milk used to make Piave DOP cheese comes exclusively from the province of Belluno (north-eastern Italy) and at least 80% is produced with milk from breeds of cattle typical of the production area: the Bruna Italiana, the Grigio Alpina, the Pezzata Rossa Italiana and the Frisona Italiana.
Milk enzymes made from local milk and whey contain a type of bacterial flora that represents a sort of microbiological imprint of the geographical area of production. These elements are the determining factors in the acquisition of the distinctive characteristics of Piave DOP cheese.
Wheels of Piave DOP cheese are soaked in brine (a solution of water and salt) for at least 48 hours. The salt adds flavour to the cheese and helps the formation of the outer rind.
As envisaged in the production regulations, the cheese is curdled by adding rennet which reacts with casein, the main protein in milk, and causes coagulation.
The final product has a cylindrical shape with a diameter of 27/32 cm and a side height of 7/8 cm; the weight varies depending on the ripening process: from about 7 kg for the fresh cheese to about 5.5 kg for the Vecchio Riserva. The rind, soft and light in the fresh type, increases in thickness and consistency as the cheese ages, becoming hard and ochre-coloured in the Vecchio Selezione Oro and Vecchio Riserva types. The paste, compact and without eyes, is very light in the fresh type, acquiring an increasingly intense straw colour in the more advanced stages of ripening, when the paste becomes crumblier, a typical characteristic of cheeses for grating.