Bitto

Photo of Bitto Cheese
Distretto Agroalimentare di Qualità della Valtellina / CC BY-SA 4.0
Important Facts
Country of Origin Italy
Specific Origin Province of Sondrio, Lombardy, including neighboring upland pastures of Lecco and Bergamo
Certification PDO (1996)
Milk Type Cow's milk primarily, with non-mandatory addition of raw goat’s milk up to 10%
Milk Treatment Raw
Flavor Notes Cooked at 118–126°F, finely cut curd, matured for a minimum of 70 days
Forms Traditionally shaped in concave cylindrical molds, either dry-salted or immersed in salty solutions
Age Minimum of 70 days
Rennet Type Calf rennet

About Bitto Cheese

Bitto cheese, protected by its PDO status, is crafted in the mountainous province of Sondrio, Italy. It extends into the pastures of Lecco and Bergamo. Originating from cows and up to 10 percent goat’s milk, Bitto boasts a unique flavor blend. The cheese undergoes meticulous processing, including curdling with calf rennet right after milking. Careful cooking and cutting of the curd are essential steps. After aging for at least seventy days, Bitto wheels weigh between 17 and 55 pounds. They feature a distinctive concave shape and a smooth, cylindrical mold.

In 2006, disagreements over production protocols led many Bitto producers to leave the PDO consortium. However, Slow Food's advocacy has preserved traditional Bitto. This version is often seen as more authentic by cheese lovers.

Bitto has a history dating back to Celtic times. Its name means "perennial," reflecting its enduring nature. Produced during the alpine grazing season from June to September, it combines fresh cow’s and goat’s milk. As it matures, Bitto develops a sweet, intricate flavor that deepens over time. It can age up to ten years, becoming a prized delicacy that pairs well with DOCG Valtellina red wine.

Bitto received DOP recognition in 1996. A traditional variant known as Storico ribelle is upheld by age-old methods. This version is celebrated for its long aging potential. The production spans significant areas, including Sondrio and parts of Val Brembana. This highlights Bitto's deep alpine roots.

Bitto stands out for its slightly sour, piquant taste and a body marked by small holes. It matures into an ivory or slightly yellow cheese with an even yellow rind. The mix of cow's and goat's milk, along with its aging process, results in a versatile cheese. Bitto ranges from soft and delicate to firm and rich. Its complex flavors make it a key ingredient in local cuisine. Bitto embodies the rich pastoral traditions of its Italian alpine region.

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