Tessiner Alpkäse AOP
Tessiner Alpkäse AOP

Tessiner Alpkäse AOP

Alpkäse is regarded as the forerunner of hard and semi-hard cheese. The first written evidence that the use of the Alps was already firmly anchored in the rural society of the Ticino region of Switzerland and therefore that Alpkäse was being produced at that time, comes from the 12th century. The absolute necessity to use the entire territory forced the inhabitants of the Alpine region to move all their cattle, including dairy cattle, to higher land for cheese production in the summer. By doing this, they gradually settled on different levels ("corti") of the same Alp. The distance from populated areas and the necessity to manufacture products with a long shelf life led to the development of an appropriate technique and thus to the production of Alpkäse.

In his description of Italian-speaking Switzerland from 1783 to 1987, Schinz mentions the cheese and use of the Alps in districts of the canton of Ticino, in which this product was being made. His information is confirmed by descriptions of the individual Alps and the cheesemaking technique. In a chapter of the book "Gotthard End su Biasca e Ia Val Pontirone" which was published in 1920,
the method for manufacturing Alpkäse is described in detail. This basically corresponds to the current methods, with the exception of the hygiene regulations and new microbiological findings in the fields of hygiene and cheesemaking that have been introduced over the years.

"Formaggio d'alpe ticinese" is quite rightly known as an ambassador of mountain farming in the canton of Ticino. Its special features can be traced back to the specific characteristics of the Alpine meadow flora and the manufacturing method used. A large variety of tasty grasses grow on the Ticino Alps which range in height from 1,500 to 2,400 metres above sea-level. In Alpine meadows you will find as many as 250 different plant species, whereas the maximum you will find in a meadow down in the valley is 20. And it is precisely this wide range of species, which can vary from Alp to Alp, which gives the  cheese its own distinctive, unique flavour and fragrance.

It is not only good, but also healthy. According to the latest research, which has been carried out in collaboration with the ALP Liebefeld research station, it has been possible to establish that it contains many unsaturated fatty acids (CLA, Omega 3 and Omega 6) which are very important for our health.

Ticino Alpkäse is far more than just a wonderful dish, it is an authentic expression of the link a product can have with the land from which it comes. It is an art form, a lifestyle. It is culture, tradition and nature in their purest forms.