CRAVER – the Association of Producers of Goat’s Cheese and Goat Breeders in the VCO province – was launched in September 2011 as one of the initiatives by the local Chamber of Commerce to support food and agriculture businesses in the province.
The production of goat’s cheese used to be a flourishing activity in the Ossola Valleys, but declined to the extent that it was all but extinct in the 1960s.
However, there has been a marked revival of the industry’s fortunes, thanks to the work of young breeders and several dairies in the province. The CRAVER Association was formed to protect and publicise the industry, promoting all kinds of goat’s cheese, whether 100% goat’s milk or mixed with cow’s or sheep’s milk, in various textures and degrees of hardness, and ricotta.
The association’s headquarters are in Baveno at the premises of the Monte Rosa Laghi Alto Piemonte Chamber of Commerce. In accordance with its statute it is open to any breeder wishing to develop the production and marketing of dairy products made from goat’s milk or goat’s milk mixed with that of other dairy animals.
Panorama of the production
The most common traditional technique of goat milk for its purity, is certainly the tometta cheese of pure goat milk ‘of the Ossola’ (goat rennet), of various sizes, made from milk processed at low temperature and of slow coagulation. The lactic coagulation of goat milk has been introduced in recent years in several companies but it is still marginal.
In the cooperative dairies, and also in some companies more oriented towards innovation and differentiation, there are methods of working the rennet or lactic goat milk besides the classic ones. For example, the Crodo Dairy offers a white-rind cheese (Capriccio), the Vigezzina Dairy a mixed goat Gorgonzola cheese (Capraiola).
Another production that brings together companies of clear traditional print and ‘innovative’ companies is the Mascherpa (fat cottage cheese). It is agreed that there is a strong growth in demand for this product, perceived to be clearly differentiated from the industrial cottage cheese, and enjoyed by different groups of consumers (both those oriented to the discovery of ‘humble’ but excellent traditional products, and those health-oriented). There is also a smoked version, a speciality with strong local connotation. It is precised that, in order to find other smoked mascherpe cheeses, we have to go to the Camonica Valley and to Trentino (puina enfumegada).
In Ossola there is still the tradition of the Zincarlin, a tradition so alive that the names of Ossola include the variants Zangarlìn, Zingarlén, Zancarlin and Sancarlìn. The Zincarlin are part of a broad category of traditional preparations obtained from goat and cow milk, distributed on the Alpine range and the pre-Alpine areas. The common historical origin: the need to conserve and retrieve cheeses and cottage cheeses. In Ossola it is prepared starting from the mascherpa.
There are the traditional, smaller-sized Toma cheeses made from mixed milk (the production of mixed cheeses of large dimensions is, by admission of the alpine dairymen of Vigezzo, a technique imported from Switzerland).