Tuma di Pecora delle Langhe
Once, the farms in the Langhe hills would always keep a small flock of sheep. Ewe's milk, sometimes mixed with goat's milk, was used to make the typical local cheese, which was arranged in rush baskets for sale at the markets in Murazzano, Bossolasco, Alba, Dogliani and Ceva.
Commonly known as Robiola or Tuma, the cheese acquired DOP status with the name of Murazzano (see entry) but the production regulations allow the use of up to 40% raw or even pasteurised cow's milk. The aim of the Slow Food Presidium is to recover the traditional cheese, obtained exclusively from raw Langhe ewe's milk mixed with a maximum of 5% goat's milk.
The Presidium opted for a different name, Tuma di Pecora delle Langhe, to distinguish the traditional product. Langhe sheep used to be widely farmed and in 1950, there were over 45,000 animals in the area. Today, their numbers have fallen dramatically. Only 2,500 are left on about 60 farms in Piedmont and Liguria. The Langhe sheep is hornless and has a characteristic convex profile, white coat and long, nimble legs.
Its milk is heated to about 37°C and coagulated with liquid calf's milk to make Tuma. The curd is milled and placed in moulds. Each cheese is turned over several times and salted. At this point, the cheeses are moved to a slightly better-ventilated room, where they are turned over daily. After 10-15 days, the cheeses are ready for the table, but will acquire greater complexity of flavour and aroma if matured for at least one month. The finished product is cylindrical and ranges in weight from 200 to 300 grams. It is rindless and the straw-white body is soft, sometimes presenting a few eyes. Traditionally, Tuma may also be conserved in glass, and is then called tume 'n burnia (toma in a jar) in the local dialect.
The cheese can be conserved in its jar through the winter. Cheeses matured for at least a month can be grated or broken up and put in an earthenware jar, to which a little grappa is added, to make bruss (see entry). The perfect accompaniment for Tuma di Pecora delle Langhe, whether fresh or mature, is Dolcetto d'Alba or Dolcetto di Dogliani.
The aim of the Slow Food Presidium is to recover the traditional version of this cheese, obtained with raw Langhe ewe's milk mixed with a very small proportion of goat's milk.
Body: soft, sometimes with a few eyes, white or straw-yellow in colour
Top and bottom: flat, 12-15 cm in diameter
Height/weight: 2-4 cm / 200-300 g
Territory of origin: 50 municipalities in Upper Langhe in the province of Cuneo
The descriptions of the cheeses you can find in this section are taken from the book Italian Cheese, edited by Slow Food Editore