What is it

What is bettelmatt?

Bettelmatt (battelmatt) is a summer mountain pasture cheese typical of northern Italy.

It is produced in the Upper Ossola Valley, in the province of Verbano – Cusio – Ossola, on the border between the Piedmont region and Switzerland; the area is called Alpe di Formazza.

Bettelmatt is a cheese made from whole or partially skimmed, raw cow’s milk from a single milking and produced in the summer period; the acidity is naturally induced by microbial fermentation. It has a semi-cooked, pressed paste and a minimum ripening period of 40-50 days, up to one year. It has a hard or semi-hard texture and shows fine, homogeneous eye formation.

Bettelmatt belongs to the II fundamental group of foods-milk and dairy products-as a nutritional source of high biological value proteins, specific minerals and vitamins. It has a considerable calorie intake, coming mainly from fat. We will go into more detail in the next section.

Young bettelmatt lends itself to being eaten on its own, as a table cheese, especially lightly ripened. The more mature wheels are excellent ingredients for some recipes and are used grated over pasta. The organoleptic and taste characteristics change significantly according to maturity; less so according to the area of the alpine pasture and dairy. All bettelmatts have the typical hint of pasture grasses and flowers.

Bettelmatt enjoys recognition as a Traditional Agri-food Product (PAT) and on the heel it displays the characteristic firebrand mark, with the date of manufacture, the name of the mountain pasture of production and the dairy’s EEC stamp number. The mark has been regularly registered since 2003, although its notoriety began as early as 1810, when Canon Nicolao Sottile gave it its first quality license later confirmed by the Jacini Inquiry.

Nutritional Properties

Nutritional Properties of Bettelmatt

Bettelmatt, as a dairy product, belongs to the II fundamental group of foods.

It has a very significant energy intake and fat level, which increases as ripening is prolonged – rarely does the fat percentage fall below 20% of dry matter.

Calories are provided mainly by fatty acids, followed by protein and possibly a few carbohydrates – in lightly ripened forms. Lipid chains are predominantly saturated, high biological value peptides-supply all essential amino acids in the right proportions and amounts relative to the human protein model-and soluble/simple carbohydrates, if any-disaccharide lactose.

Bettelmatt contains no fiber; instead, it is high in cholesterol. As it ages, it loses water, lactose is degraded by the bacterial microflora, and is enriched in histamine. The amount of purines, as with other foods in the same food group, is very low. It does not contain gluten.

The vitamin profile of bettelmatt is characterized by abundance in riboflavin (vit B2) and retinol or equivalents (vitamin A or RAE). Many other water-soluble B factors such as thiamine (vit B1) and niacin (vit PP) are fairly concentrated. As for minerals, on the other hand, cheese shows relevant concentrations of calcium, phosphorus and sodium.


Diet and bettelmatt cheese

Bettelmatt, being a quite high-calorie and high-fat food, does not lend itself to the weight-loss diet against overweight-low-calorie and normolipid. Seasoned and hard, grated on pasta dishes, it can be part of the usual diet in quantities of 5-10 g at a time for once or twice a day.

The prevalence of saturates in the total fatty acid profile and the abundance of cholesterol make bettelmatt inadvisable in cases of hypercholesterolemia.

Containing protein of high biological value, bettelmatt can be considered an excellent source of essential amino acids. It is recommended in all circumstances that require increased intake of these nutrients; indicative examples are: general, specific malnutrition, chronic malabsorption, and increased requirements-for example, in pregnancy or by practicing extraordinarily intense and prolonged sports. However, the use of cheese as a nutritional source of high biological value protein/essential amino acids is limited by its less desirable properties, which, in order to ensure dietary balance, require the use of moderate portions and low frequency of consumption.

Lactose, itself unimportant due to lactic fermentation, can still be troublesome for the more sensitive intolerant; on the other hand, statistically speaking, adverse reactions to aged bettelmatt can be considered very rare. An increase in histamine concentration, especially in the older forms, is to be reported, making it inappropriate in cases of specific intolerance. Gluten-free and low in purines, on the other hand, it is pertinent to the dietary regimen against celiac disease and hyperuricemia.

Given the wide range of water-soluble B vitamins, which mainly perform the task of cellular coenzymes, bettelmatt can be considered a useful food to support the metabolic processes of various tissues. Fat-soluble vitamin A and/or equivalents (RAEs), which are necessary to maintain intact visual function, reproductive capacity, cell differentiation, antioxidant defense, etc., are abundant in bettelmatt.

Given the high sodium content, bettelmatt should be avoided or severely limited in the preventive and/or therapeutic diet for sodium-sensitive hypertension.

The richness of calcium and phosphorus is a very useful feature in ensuring the balance of skeletal metabolism, a delicate process in fetal development, in child growth, and in old age–because of the tendency to osteoporosis. Notes: For bone health, it is also necessary to ensure vitamin D intake. During pregnancy, for hygienic reasons, it is recommended to avoid raw milk cheeses unless cooked – e.g., griddled.

Bettelmatt cheese is not allowed in the vegan diet. Due to the presence of animal rennet, it must also be excluded in the vegetarian one. It has no contraindications for the Muslim and Jewish religions. The opinions of observant Buddhists, in this regard, are discordant.

The frequency of consumption of bettelmatt cheese-as a dish-is less than or equal to 1-2 times a week, while the average portion corresponds to about 80 g.


Description of bettelmatt

Bettelmatt is a cow’s milk cheese product; the cows are of the Italian Brown breed. It is a cheese made from whole or semi-skimmed, raw milk from a single milking during the summer period between June and September, directly on the mountain pastures – when the cows graze between 1800 and 2400 m above sea level; the acidity of the cheese is natural, induced by microbial fermentation. The bettelmatt paste is semi-cooked and has a minimum ripening period of 40-50 days, up to one year.

Bettelmatt wheels have an average diameter of 50-60 cm. The heel is about 10-15 cm. One of the faces is branded, while the date of manufacture, the name of the alpine pasture of production and the dairy’s EEC stamp number are identified on the sides. The rind is thin, yellow in color.

The paste of bettelmatt is semi-hard or hard – pressed – light yellow in color, with thin, homogeneous eyes. The aroma is full of the olfactory characteristics of alpine milk, so mainly herbs and flowers. Many people can distinguish the color and scents of mutellina or mattolina – Artemisia umbelliformis, one of the species locally referred to as Genepì, with which a very characteristic typical liqueur is also made. The flavor is initially soft, sweetish-especially the young forms-and then intense and strong.


Bettelmatt in cooking

Bettelmatt is a full-fat or semi-fat cheese product that, especially at short maturity, is suitable as a table cheese – as an appetizer, main course or dessert.

More mature, on the other hand, it is intended to be grated or melted in first courses – for example, various polenta recipes – or in certain dishes.

Oenological pairing of bettelmatt involves mostly red wines; recommended are Alto Adige Pinot Noir, Breganze Cabernet, Chianti Classico, Gattinara, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Rosso Piceno Superiore, Torgiano Rosso Riserva and Valtellina Superiore.