What is Bitto? The Timeless Cheese of Lombardy

Bitto (ITALY) - Cheese Origin

Nestled in the idyllic valleys of Lombardy, Italy, a gastronomic gem has been quietly aging for centuries, enchanting those fortunate enough to savor its unique taste. This is Bitto, a cheese as timeless as the mountains it hails from.

A product of tradition and craftsmanship, Bitto is more than just a cheese—it’s a testament to a way of life that has thrived in the heart of Italy for generations. In this post, we’re diving into the rich history and distinct flavor profile of Bitto, the timeless cheese of Lombardy, and exploring why it continues to captivate cheese lovers worldwide.

Quick Facts About Bitto

Country of OriginItaly
Age70 to 365 days
MilkCow (Orobic goat’s milk maximum 10%)
Weight and shape8 – 25 kg (17 lb to 55 lb), flat wheel with concave edge
SizeDiameter 50 cm (20 inches), Height 9 to 12 cm (3.5 to 5 inches)
TasteMild, buttery. hay (less than 6 months), spicy, nutty and dried fruit hints (more than 6 months)
TextureHard, crumbly
AromaFlowers and grass
PairingSfursat, Amarone, Pizzoccheri, walnut polenta, sciatt

What is Bitto?

Bitto is not just a cheese; it’s a taste of history, a slice of Italian tradition and culture. Crafted in the heart of the Lombardy region, nestled within the stunning backdrop of the Alps, Bitto is a cheese that stands as a testament to the artistry and dedication of generations of cheesemakers.

This cheese, with its unique blend of cow’s and Orobic goat’s milk, traces its roots back to the Celtic people who once inhabited these mountains. It was named after the Bitto River, a vital water source for the Alpine pastures where the animals grazed. The unique combination of this pristine environment and the traditional methods used in its production gives Bitto its distinctive flavor profile.

Bitto is known for its incredible aging potential. It is often referred to as a “meditation cheese” due to its ability to be aged for up to 20 years. With time, it develops complex flavors, evolving from sweet and creamy when young, to savory and spicy as it matures. Each stage of its life offers a different sensory experience, making Bitto a truly versatile cheese.

In recognition of its historical and cultural significance, Bitto was granted the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status by the European Union. This ensures that only cheese produced in the specific geographical area using the traditional method can be called Bitto.

So, when you savor a piece of Bitto, you’re not just enjoying a cheese, but a culinary masterpiece that embodies centuries of tradition and the very soul of Italy’s Lombardy region.

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Bitto Tasting Notes

  1. Texture: Bitto cheese has a dense and firm texture. When young, it is creamy and slightly crumbly, becoming harder and grainier as it ages.
  2. Color: The color of Bitto cheese ranges from pale yellow to dark amber, depending on its age. Younger cheeses are lighter, while older ones darken due to the long maturation process.
  3. Aroma: Bitto offers an aromatic bouquet that evolves with age. Fresh Bitto carries a sweet, milky scent, while aged Bitto develops a rich, complex aroma reminiscent of dried fruit and spices.
  4. Flavor: A young Bitto is mild and slightly sweet with notes of fresh milk and grass. As it ages, the flavor deepens and intensifies, offering hints of nuttiness, spice, and caramel. An extremely aged Bitto can even have a hint of a savory umami taste.
  5. Aftertaste: Bitto leaves a long-lasting, complex aftertaste. The finish can range from mildly tangy in younger cheeses to a robust, spicy, and slightly bitter finish in aged varieties.

What Pairs Well With Bitto?

Bitto Pairing

Food that goes well with Bitto:

CategoryFood Pairing
BreadsWhole Grain Bread, Multigrain Crackers, Focaccia, Ciabatta
FruitsApples, Pears, Grapes, Dried Apricots
NutsAlmonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Chestnuts
MeatsProsciutto, Salami, Bresaola, Roast Beef
PastaPizzoccheri, Risotto, Polenta dishes
VegetablesGrilled Asparagus, Roasted Bell Peppers, Steamed Broccoli, Sautéed Mushrooms
DessertsHoney-drizzled Walnut Polenta, Dark Chocolate, Pear Tart, Apple Pie
CondimentsHoney, Fig Jam, Pear Chutney, Balsamic Reduction

Also read: 11 Best Crackers that Pair Well with Cheese

Beverage that goes well with Bitto:

CategoryBeverage Pairings
WineAglianico, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bordeaux
Non-AlcoholicHot Chocolate, Lemonade
Sparkling WineSpumante Brut Metodo Classico “Q”

Also read: Best Wine and Cheese Pairings: The Ultimate Guide

Where to Buy Bitto:

More Cheeses from Italy:

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