Alpziger is a cow's milk ricotta produced only in the Alpine pastures of central Switzerland, particularly in the cantons of Fribourg, Bern and Obwalden. The first references to its production can be found in a 12th-century Romansh dictionary, while Grafschaft Greyerz family documents from 1312 contain a more precise mention.
Alpziger is made only in the summer, from the middle of June to the end of September, exclusively from the whey left over after making raw-milk cheeses like Sbrinz and Gruyère. The addition of some whole milk to the whey is optional and depends on the cheesemaker's tradition.
The production method is simple: The whey is heated to 90°C in special cauldrons, then citric or acetic acid is added.
This lowers the whey's pH, causing the previously dissolved proteins to coagulate and rise to the surface of the liquid.
The mass is then cut, wrapped in cloths and left to drain for a few hours over the cauldron. After about a day of aging, the Ziger is ready to be eaten fresh, or it can be aged, and is sometimes smoked. The fresh ricotta is mostly used to fill cakes or breads. One classic recipe is for Zigerkrapfen, delicious little fried pastries filled with Ziger.
Very few cheesemakers in Switzerland still make Alpziger. The Presidium involves two of the last to follow this tradition. It is working to promote the product and convince other cheesemakers to revive the traditional mountain dairy production.
The project's first step is to try and increase the number of producers in the ricotta's historic area, maintaining production in mountain dairies in the Swiss Alps. This should make it possible to have a reliable supply of quality Alpziger every summer, produced only by dairies that work with raw milk. Because it is a delicate and highly perishable product, and therefore not easily marketable on its own, the second phase of the project will involve artisans-bakers, pastry chefs and confectioners-to encourage them to use Presidium Alpziger to fill their specialties.
Fribourg, Bern and Obwalden Alps
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Bäckerei Konditorei Cafè
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