Hans-Peter Bachmann, Ph.D.
Scientific Project Leader
Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER)
Research division »Food microbial systems«
Schwarzenburgstrasse 161, CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Phone: +41 58 463 84 91
Hans-Peter Bachmann: Short-Summary of the Lecture at FACE konference
Influence of the microbiome on the quality and safety of Raclette du Valais AOP cheese: Current findings and a look back at the last 150 years
Raclette du Valais AOP is a traditional cheese variety from Switzerland with a long-standing tradition and strong ties to production in the mountain region. In this talk, four aspects will be highlighted.
As an introduction, the history, the production areas (lowlands, mountains, Alps) and the technology are presented.
Subsequently, we turn to the microbiota. Modern molecular biology methods make it possible to better understand the influence of the microbiomes from raw milk, the starter cultures, the production plant and the cheese ripening room on the safety and quality of the cheeses. This allows to uncover unknown causes of known cheese defects so that artisanal cheese producers can be given targeted support. The microbial biodiversity inside the Raclette du Valais AOP cheese is strongly dominated by a wide variety of lactic acid bacteria, with many strains not originating from starter cultures. Cheese quality is also significantly determined by the microbiota that develops on the cheese surface, with very large differences between cheese ripening rooms of different affineurs.
To put these finding into historical context, we will look back on 150 years of Raclette production with preliminary results of a globally unique study: Wheels of Raclette du Valais AOP cheese manufactured over the last 150 years give insights into the microbiome evolution of this particular cheese over this long period, during which many technological changes happened.
To strengthen the future of this variety, Agroscope develops new AOP acidification cultures with the goal to broaden microbial biodiversity, increase authenticity and strengthen the connection to terroir.
Petra Mohar Lorbeg, PhD, B.Sc
Food Technol., Institute of Dairy Science and Probiotics, Slovenia
Petra Mohar: Short-Summary of the Lecture at FACE konference
Tailor-made starter cultures for traditional Slovenian cheeses
For generations, cheeses were made without starter cultures or cheesemakers used their own starter cultures from whey or mother cultures, while in modern times even traditional cheeses are often made with the addition of commercial cultures. Traditional cheeses are still often made from raw milk, which is a rich source of various bacteria that influence the development of a specific flavor and aroma. On the other hand, the use of starter cultures also has a great influence on the development of the flavor and texture of the cheese, so the use of uniform starter cultures leads to the loss of the uniqueness of traditional cheeses. In order to protect the uniqueness of traditional Slovenian cheeses, we have tried to develop starter cultures that would be tailor-made for each traditional cheese. Analysis of the microbiota of traditional Slovenian cheeses Tolminc, Mohant, Nanos cheese, Kraški ewes’ cheese and Bovški ewes’ cheese revealed that lactobacilli, enterococci and lactococci represent the vast majority of the cheese microbiota. Several strains were isolated from each cheese and thoroughly characterized. In addition to their species identification and evaluation of technological properties, their safety for consumers and antimicrobial potential were also assessed. Bacteria with the ability to inhibit the growth and activity of various pathogens and spoilage bacteria were selected as they contribute to the protective role of starter cultures. Particular attention was paid to bacteriocin producing-bacteria, especially those with anti-staphylococcal activity. Candidates for tailor-made starter cultures are stored in the culture collection of the Institute of Dairy Science and Probiotics and are available for further evaluation and possible use by manufacturers of traditional cheeses.
Žiga Zwitter: Short-Summary of the Lecture at FACE konference
From historical examples to history-inspired sustainable innovation:
What can we learn from the environmental history of species-rich meadows in the Alps for sustainable meadow management and cheese making?
For millennia, meadows characterized by a high diversity of plant and animal species were side-products of animal husbandry. Since the twentieth century, the connection between livestock farming and species-rich meadows has weakened and has collapsed in several European countries. Sweden, for instance, lost 99.7% of semi-natural meadows between 1870 and 2010; 95% of them disappeared in England from 1950 to 1990, and more have been lost ever since. Some Southeastern, Southwestern and Southern Alps regions stand out for a high percentage of species-rich meadows in a current European context. However, they have been quickly disappearing in these landscapes as well.
It is a complex challenge to make species-rich grassland farming sustainable, meaning at the same time fair and equitable to farmers, economically viable and ecologically sound. Humankind should become aware of the fact that our current consumer society that has developed mainly since the mid-twentieth century has not only been severely threatening the environment through its huge wastes and emissions. Our current lifestyle has also been depriving next human generations of being likely to live in abundance comparable to the one experienced by an average human being in Europe today. All this calls for a sustainability transition leading to a fair balance between (1) the human society, (2) its economy, and (3) the environment. A sustainability transition in rural areas is far different from transforming them into living museums. However, some long-term evidence-based best practices and history-inspired innovation can add their pieces to this puzzle. This talk includes a selection of contents related to grassland farming and cheesemaking.
Monika Ravnik, cheesemaker, Vice-President of the Association, ….
Monika Ravnik: Short-Summary of the Lecture at FACE konference
Livestock breeding has always been important to the people of Bohinj, with a well-developed pastoral and dairy industry. Records of Bohinj cheese-making date back to the 13th century. For centuries, the sale of cooked butter to Trieste was the main source of income for Bohinj’s livestock farmers. The first cheese-making company in Bohinj was founded in 1873. Even at that time the prist Janez Mesar, the initiator of the organisation of cheese-makers, described the mohant, a gastronomic highlight of the Bohinj area.
The Manufacturing of mohant cheese started in the village of Podjelje, at an altitude of 900 metres. Access to the valley from the high altitude villages was difficult due to poor road connections. The milk was therefore processed at home or in the mountains. In addition to mohant, they also produced cottage cheese and butter.
Mohant was made from whole or semi-skimmed milk. Mohant made from whole milk takes on a sharper flavour as it ages and is therefore used up sooner, while mohant made from semi-skimmed milk can take longer to mature. As it matures, the dough becomes compact, more or less plastic, and the mohant has a very specific smell and taste.
Mohant is a soft cheese, which, if properly made and cared for, has an even, smooth, partly elastic, spreadable to heavily spreadable dough, which may be a little lumpy. The colour is whitish-yellow, beige or light butter. The taste and smell of ‘mohanto’ are characteristic and typical: clean, spicy, pungent but not spicy-hot, slightly bitter. Cheese matured for more than two months can be bitter, the taste and smell is aggressive and very pronounced, and the first impression may even be repulsive, particularly because of the characteristic and the strong smell. The cheese needs to be matured for two to three months to reach maturity.
Locals eat ‘mohant’ with a spoon alongside a lot of potatoes with bread. It is said to have a soothing effect on the digestive tract and is still highly sought-after by gourmets today, and has not yet faded into oblivion. Mohant is the original speciality of our cheese-making.
Anđelka Pejaković, dipl. ing. agr.
Anđelka Pejaković & Barbara Hrovatinović: Short-Summary of the Lecture at FACE konference
Cheese in sack is a special traditional cheese that matures in lamb or sheep skin – mišina (sack). The history of the production of this cheese is related to the time of the Illyrians and Thracians who kept sheep on the pastures of the Dinara Mountains during the summer period where sheep were milked and cheese was produced. It has traditionally been produced from whole raw sheep’s milk, without the use of starter culture, and the production technology is not standardized and varies a lot from farm to farm.
Cheese in sack has a very specific smell and a rich spicy taste, full fat, semi-hard or hard depending on the length of ripening, slightly salty and slightly sour, no eyes and no crust on the outside. Very rich and special taste, which distinguishes this cheese from all other Croatian cheeses due to its specific anaerobically maturation in the sack (skin) under the influence of a large spectrum of natural microbial population present in raw milk.
The production of this cheese has remained to this day on several family farms and households in Dalmatia and Lika, according to the same old recipe but in very small quantities for the lokal market, so today its further production for the market is questionable.
However, we are of the opinion that additional efforts should be made on protection, branding and financing, so we might be able to get new young producers and restore part of the lost Croatian tradition because this or similar cheese is still produced in the southern Balkans.
Diego Rinallo, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Marketing, lifestyle research centre, emlyon business school
Diego Rinallo: Short-Summary of the Lecture at FACE konference
Cheese wars: The death and resurrection of Historical Bitto
Bitto is a traditional Alpine fat cheese from the Bitto Valleys, which owe their name to the Bitto creek, a small tributary to the Adda river that crosses the municipalities of Gerola and Albaredo in Valtelline (Sondrio province, Lombardy, Italy). In 1995, Bitto was recognised with a Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO). The PDO product specification allowed for more industrial production methods and an extension of the production area. This resulted in tensions from producers from the Bitto Valleys, who felt their more heritage-consistent production methods were not sufficiently valorised by the PDO consortium. These ‘Bitto Rebels’ tried to use the name ‘Historical Bitto’ but were legally prevented from doing so since the product specification did not allow to differentiate products within the PDO based on area of origin or production methods. The ongoing conflict – the ‘Bitto war’ – lasted until 2016, when the Rebels, with the support of Slow Food, declared the death of Historical Bitto and renamed it Storico Ribelle (Historical Rebel), founding a new consortium. Thanks to their highly mediatised secession, Rebels were able to raise awareness about their production methods resulting in higher consumer willingness-to-pay. The case of Bitto highlights that geographical indications can penalize heritage producers. It also shows that mediatised conflict and alternative commercialisation networks can successfully valorise heritage products and contribute to their safeguarding.
dr. Jana Vilman
Jana Vilman: Short-Summary of the Lecture at FACE konference
The concept of collective brands influences the overall quality of local offers
The Collective Brand Certificate guarantees the geographical origin and high quality of products, crops, dishes, and services. In addition, the certification provides a register of the offer and an overview of the providers in the destination. The evaluation criteria are geared towards high-quality products and services, defined by the visual graphic design, packaging, and explanatory text. In order to achieve high standards, potential holders of the right to use a collective mark are offered support and advice in upgrading, developing, and including symbolic elements, visual identity, and preparation of descriptive texts. The whole process is thus also seen as a targeted development of products and services and as a reinforcement of the local area’s story, values, and orientations. The collective trademark manager ensures a coherent offer and promotion through all the promotional channels of the destination. By networking the holders of the right to use the collective brand, supply chains are shortened, and the local economy is boosted.