This particular and ancient preservation technique has over 500 years of history and was born originally for the need to preserve and protect the cheese from the raids of the soldiers. The pits usually were and are still dug in tuff, a magmatic porous rock particularly suitable for its light weight and ease of processing, the tuff also has the feature of making the various areas dry. The process as happened once, it is practiced today from mid-August to early September, the cheese is enclosed in bags of cotton or linen then lying on the bottom of the pit, not in contact with the stone but on a double bottom wood. The pit, generally cylindrical in shape, was and is still coated with a complex network of branches suitably tied together with string, this will be the scaffolding which will be stored in the stems of the grain and straw which will be pressed to form the proper isolation from the air. All the bags with the cheese are placed following the shape of the pit, while maintaining a structure such that the weight is distributed evenly, (we talk of quintals of cheese), finally, the pit is covered with a further layer of straw, earth and a lid of wood. In 90-100 days of ripening, the cheese loses some of the fat, the forms are modeled and depending on the location, near the outer straw or in the center, take on a different flavor and spiciness of each other.
Fossa cheese produced in Cartoceto and the nearby Montefeltro is a cheese made primarily from milk of sheep, made with all-natural ingredients without preservatives, only sheep’s milk, rennet and salt. As previously explained, the walls of the pit, are usually covered with straw or hay. for the production of aged cheese Cartoceto and Montefeltro, it is also added to the straw a salad of herbs that give the cheese a further aroma . The last week of November the caves are opened and these delicious aged cheeses with strong, firm and slightly spicy taste are extracted.
Besides the Fossa cheese, in Cartoceto you can find the traditional pecorino, or other cured products according to ancient recipes, tasty thanks to the particularly savory milk and sweeter than other Italian pecorinos.
It has a wide range of uses in the kitchen: for appetizers, perfect with fresh fava beans, garlic bread, ham and salami, perhaps combined with a fresh wine sangiovese Colli Pesaresi. Fossa cheese is certainly also great on its own, but when combined with jams and honey, it becomes insurmountable. About honey, we recommend the taste of honey millefiori or monoflora, acacia, sunflower and chestnut. The honey in Marche is delicious thanks to a nature rich in wild flowers belonging to a pristine area. The activity of beekeeping is very booming, either as a hobby or as primary agricultural activity.