It is sometimes referred to as a “ripening process.”
Stufatura is done in dedicated, insulated rooms, now using technology in some form to regulate temperature, humidity and ventilation.
The Stufatura process allows lactic bacteria to flourish. The bacteria converts lactose in cheeses and in meats (sic) into lactic acid. The lactic acid is important, both because it is a key element of the taste, and the acidity stops undesirable bacteria from growing.
The process may take several hours or several weeks, depending on the product. After this stage, the product is then usually transferred to cooler, dryer rooms for more prolonged aging.
Stufatura comes from the Italian verb “stufare”, meaning “to stew.”