One of the most famous dairy products made in Ossola Valley is Bettelmatt, baptised “cheese of the gods” by an internationally renowned food critic. It is produced in seven Alpine pastures in the Antigorio and Formazza valleys at an altitude of between 1800 and 2400 metres. Bettelmatt is produced in mid-summer, exclusively in mountain pastures at high altitude. This cheese truly elevates the great tradition of rearing Brown Swiss cows: made from a single milking, processed raw and whole twice a day, it is a triumph of unmistakable scents, aromas and flavours from the aromatic pastures of the Lepontine Alps.
Bettelmatt maturation can last from a few months to several years. However, the cheese’s scents and aromas do not reach their greatest intensity until after at least 90 days. Its golden yellow or straw colour, which turns brown and bronze with ageing and its intense, prolonged, deep, aromatic, yet never banal flavour, the result of the care with which it is produced and seasoned, make it one of the best-known and most popular dairy products in Italy.
Another characteristic cheese, which is produced only in Ossola Valley throughout the year, is Ossolano: a low-fat or full-fat cheese with a delicate, herby flavour that becomes more intense and lingering with age, used as a dish in its own right and to make traditional gnocchi made of potatoes, chestnut flour and pumpkin, or in stoneground polenta or with rye bread to form a traditional Ossolan snack.