Toma d’Alpeggio is a soft or semi-hard medium-aged cheese, made with raw cow's milk which may be whole or partially skimmed. It is cylindrical in shape with flat upper and lower faces and a slightly curved lateral rind.
Dimensions: Weight varies from 4 to 10 kg, height 7-18 cm, diameter 20-35 cm.
Rind: Smooth, greyish yellow in colour or slightly ochre.
Texture: Fairly soft, with scarce and uniformly distributed hole structure, pale yellow in colour.
Flavour: Sweet like milk in young cheeses, fairly intense and sometimes more flavourful in aged cheeses.
Preparation of milk: Raw cow's milk is used, usually from one or two milkings.
The evening milk may be skimmed by the float-creaming method then used for production the next day (Toma d’Alpeggio made with skimmed milk).
Coagulation: Milk temperature is around 35-38 °C, animal rennet is used to obtain solid curds in about 60 minutes.
Cheese vat processing: The curds are milled to pieces the size of corn kernels. The phases after the initial milling are very variable but the curds are usually still quite soft when extracted from the whey.
Further processing: After the curds are extracted they may be processed in different ways.
Some producers transfer them into drainage cloths where the curds are remixed to eliminate even more whey and frequently a handful of salt is added before placing the mass in the moulds, with or without cloths. Other producers extract the curds and place them directly in the moulds. In the tradition that is typical of the Turin area, the curds are shaped with just natural fibre cloths, without the use of moulds.
Most producers press the cheese, but not all do.
The salting method used is generally dry salting, with coarse salt on each face of the cheese for 12 hours. Brining is becoming more common.
Aging process: Frequently takes place in natural alpine cellars, duration varies from 20 days to over two months, resulting in a variety of final products.