To make Fontina Cheese, cow’s milk is heated to 36 C (97 F.) Calf’s rennet is then added to curdle the milk. The milk is let sit for 1 hour as is, then it is heated to 47 to 48 C (116 to 118 F) and let sit for another two hours held at that temperature. This is why you’ll sometimes see this cheese called “semi-cooked” (or “semi-cotta”, drawing on the Italian phrase.)
The curd that forms is cut and drained in nets, then put into round moulds for 12 hours. When the cheese is taken out of the moulds, it is salted, and let sit for two months in a cool place. At the end of two months, the cheese is then taken to caves where it is aged for a further 3 months (The aging apparently still happens in caves or grottoes, on pine shelves.)
During this period in the caves, the rind is washed with brine every other day, and on the alternating days, it is brushed to take away any mould that does form on it.
The rind can vary in colour from a dark golden brown to a dark yellow or a reddish-brown. The cheese inside is firm and light yellow with tiny holes. It has a mild, nutty taste.
When young, Fontina can be used as a “table cheese.” When old, it becomes a grating cheese.
Fontina is produced in Valle d’Aosta . It has an image of the Matterhorn Mountain stamped on its rind.
Fontina received its PDO status in 1996.
It was the Danes who popularized Fontina in North America, with their version of Fontina.
Melts well; can be used in fondues.
Taleggio; Goat’s Cheese, Appenzeller, Gouda. One food writer suggests mixing to an even paste grated Gruyère with grated Parmesan, some milk and a drop of vinegar.
45% fat content.Nutrition FactsPer 100 g (3 1/2 oz)AmountCalories350
3 oz Fontina Cheese = 1/2 cup, diced.
Producers claim that Fontina has been made in the Aosta valley since the 1100s (though you will also see the 1200s cited). If so, this may not have been Fontina as it is now made, because in the Middle Ages, people used cows to pull ploughs, not for milk.
You’ll see writers who also claim that cheese pictures in 13th century frescoes must be Fontina because they have the shape of Fontina cheese — a round wheel of cheese which, of course, no other cheese in the history of mankind has ever been shaped like.
It’s full name, Fontina d’Agosta, is actually short for “Fontina Val d’Aosta”.
In the Valle d’Aosta region, on the Italian side of the Alps, there is a municipality (or “comune”, as the Italians call it) called Quart, within whose jurisdiction falls pasture land referred to as “Font.” This is where the “font” in “Fontina” comes from. That’s one theory, anyway. The second relates to how well the cheese melts, which in old French was “fontis” or “fondis”. The name “Fontina” was first recorded in 1717, in a document produced by the monks of the Great St Bernard Hostel.