It’s late November. The milk is tired. And that means it’s taleggio season.
Taleggio originates in the Lombardy region of Italy. It is a cheese made with winter milk, the “tired” milk when the cows are back from their summer pastures and eating baled hay and fodder. Sometimes called Stracchino (Stracchino means tired in Italian), but there are differences; Stracchino is just about any soft Italian cheese made in a square mold. Taleggio is also made in a square mold, but it’s also taleggio: a washed-rind beauty aged in ancient caves in the Val Taleggio, just north of Milan, just south of the Swiss border, in the province of Bergamo. Authentic Taleggio is always square, and bears the characteristic Taleggio mark: four circles with Ts inside.
But Can You Make it With Goat Milk?
It’s a cow cheese but you can certainly make it with Nigerian milk, or any high-butterfat winter milk. Like a lot of great cheeses, there is not a set recipe – Peter Dixon’s raw milk recipe calls for no culture (he grudgingly allows a dash of TA 50 thermophilic starter, a slow-acidifying and very mild culture typically used for cheeses like Muenster, if the milk has been stored), whereas the cheesemaking.com recipe uses a yogurt (also thermophilic) culture. I personally would use the TA 50. Cheesemaking.com also calls for brining rather than hand-salting. I wouldn’t do that. I would hand salt. But if you don’t have 100 pounds of milk (12 gallons) or ancient Italian caves you might do better with the cheesemaking.com recipe.
Taleggio is traditionally aged on wooden boards; you usually can’t do that in a Grade A facility. But if you are aging cheese at home, find yourself a hardwood board, something like locust or a fruitwood. The board becomes a reservoir for the cheese’s moisture.