The Italian word “fossa” means pit, hole or grave. “Formaggio” is cheese. Simply translated: formaggio di fossa is cheese of the pit or the hole.
Fossa cheese is made with either sheep or cows’ milk or a combination of both. Maturing after 30 days, it is wrapped in clean, white cloth and buried in special underground holes or pits of tuff or volcanic rock. These pits/holes/graves are lined with straw and purified by fire making them moisture-free. The holes are sealed to begin the ripening fermentation process which takes about three months (90-100 days).
After being removed from the pits, the cheese continues to ripen an additional 90 days. This fermentation system develops not only a delicate woodland aroma but also augments the cheese’s nutritional qualities and makes it easier to digest. This technique dates back to the 15th century.
Formaggio di Fossa with its DOC status (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) is produced in northern Italy in Sogliano al Rubicone in the Emilia-Romagna region.