The processing cycle of Piave DOP cheese begins with the cleaning of raw milk through the optional pasteurisation of cow’s milk, followed by the addition of milk enzymes and rennet which react with casein – the main protein in milk – to cause coagulation.
Curdling is followed by portioning the curd into circular containers in which it is left to drain in order to eliminate the excess whey.
The cheeses are then pressed, releasing further moisture and acquiring the appropriate firmness.
After pressing, the cheeses are removed from the moulds and placed inside a branding ring called a “fascera”, the inside edge of which is engraved with the name of the cheese. This is the branding phase, during which the product identification mark is impressed onto the side of the cheese, known as the “heel”.
At this point, the cheese, wrapped in the “fascera” and placed on special stands, is stored in temperature and humidity-controlled “resting towers”, where it remains during initial, partial ripening and texturing. When the cheese comes out of the “resting towers” it is a deeper yellow colour and has a thin, permeable rind which makes it compact and allows it to be soaked in brine (a solution of water and salt) for the last stage of the cycle, salting, which lasts at least 48 hours.
At the end of the production cycle, the cheese is ready to be taken to the maturing warehouse, stored on wooden shelves and periodically brushed, turned and kept in optimal temperature and humidity conditions for the time necessary for ripening. All the stages of the production process are of fundamental importance in determining the specific characteristics of Piave DOP cheese, even though there are other factors that operate upstream: the quality of the milk, which is determined by the breed of cattle, the farming methods and the area of origin, as well as the composition of the recipe, which is the result of the local cheese-making tradition.