The Science Behind Alpine Cheeses
A recent Italian study has shown that there are scientific differences among cheeses made from the milk of cows in different Alpine pastures. In this study, Giovanna Contarini, a food chemist at the Centro di Ricerca per le Produzioni Foraggere e Lattiero-Casearie, took milk from cows living on two different sides of a Northern Italian mountain, then analyzed the cheeses made from the two different batches of milk. The two cheeses differed in their amounts of hydrocarbons, transfatty acids, and terpenes, chemical compounds that come from flowers eaten by mountain-pastured cows.
Contarini's research may one day be used to prove whether some traditional cheeses, such as bra d'alpeggio or Formai de Mut dell'Ata Valle Brembana, are indeed made with only the milk of mountain-grass grazing cows. The practice of making summer mountain cheeses is a dying art in northern Italy, Contarini said.