Saturday, July 5, 2014

Seirass: a very versatile cheese

Courtesy of Elisa Cerruti

Seirass is the traditional Piedmont ricotta cheese and it comes in many variants and flavors thus making it a very versatile cheese.
It name comes from the Latin serum, or whey and in Piedmont, it is synonym of ricotta or cottage cheese. Compared to regular ricotta cheese, Seirass is made of a smoother and finer paste and it contains a lot of cream!
It comes in many shapes, but commonly people but it in the traditional cone form which the cheese acquires during its aging process in gauze cones that are hung to allow it to dry. Seirass also comes in cylindrical and upturned basket shapes.

Milk Seirass

 Seirass comes in many variants

traditional Sierass
Seirass "di latte" or of milk, meaning fresh

This version is made with fresh mountain sheep and cow's milk, like a toma cheese. it's kneaded by hand with salt. 
Its texture is very soft and its paste has an ivory color
You can recognize some sheep hints and fully taste the cream 

The ideal way to savor it is with sweet white wines, blueberry jams, marmelades, acacia honey and with grissini: Piedmont breadsticks.

Seirass del Fen or hay Seirass

Seirass del Fen/Hay Seirass

It is made like fresh Seirass but this version ages covered in frehsly cut hay and sometimes it is also smoked.
This variant is much more aromatic compared to the fresh one.
Hay Seirass has a soft ivory paste which becomes slightly yellow on the outer side wrapped in green hay stalks.
Its flavor is delicate with fruity scents due to the hay in which it matures.
Just like fresh Seirass, hay Seirass is also made during the summer months.

For all travelfoodie mountaineers, starting on the second Sunday of September 2016, 11 Seirass del Fen farms will open to the public as part of the Slow Food project "open pastures". Foodies can bring their own drinks to pair with these artisan cheeses wrapped in hay!
This cheese tasting is 5 Euros per person and only 20 people will have thee chance to know these 11 Alpine huts where Seirass is made following the traditional methods dating back to the Middle Ages. E-mail Mr Luca Charbonnier for information and reservations:


Hanging Lausun Seirass to dry

Seirass del Lausun

Lausun is a village in the Pinerolo area, near Turin

This variant is produced in the fall, it's made with whole cow's milk and it doesn't age.
Each producer makes it in a different shape and its texture varies according to its type.

Hazelnut crust teaspoons with seirass and red onion mousse

The fresh version has a lumpy body while the aged one has a firm, translucent and straw yellow body. In the Lanzo Valleys, about 1h driving north from Turin, they make it white and without rind and like most Seirass variants you have to consume it within four days!

Seirass di Pecora - Sheep Seirass

This variant presents a very fine paste, snow white in color and with a very fresh milk and sweet flavor. It takes the shape of the canvas where the sheep whey dries.

Aged Seirass

This is an aged ricotta cheese produced in the summer and aged for 20-90 days; it is made of cow's, sheep's or goat's whey collected in a cheesecloth and then, aged and smoked with juniper burning wood.

It has a round yellowish shape. Its paste is whitish, dry and crumbly; this variant is normally eaten with bread or included in many local recipes.
Sometimes it is wrapped in herbs to add flavor and scent. 

Many are the specialties you can make with Seirass and its different variants and according to their flavor you can pair the most suitable wine. In Piedmont, almost anything can be made with Seirass from sweet pies to ravioli, gnocchi, finger food snacks and this amazing artichoke and Seirass creation of Osteria La Torre in Cherasco - aka the world snail capital :P

Artichoke and Seirass at Osteria La Torre in Cherasco

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