What it is

What is Bagòss?

Bagoss is a mature cheese (from 1 to 4 years), with the classic aspect of mountain tome cheese – but bigger – characterized by the addition of saffron – in the curd – during the production phase.

It is made from raw, partially skimmed cow’s milk; the paste is fully cooked. It has all the characteristics of malga cheese; the winter cheese or “invernengo” – produced from milk of cows that are also fed with fodder – is considered slightly less valuable.

Typical of the Lombardy region, more precisely of Bagolino – province of Brescia, in the Caffaro Valley and upper Val Sabbia – Bagòss is recognized as a Traditional Food Product (PAT). The name Bagòss comes from “bagossi”, the name of the inhabitants of Bagolino.

As a nutritional source of proteins with a high biological value, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), phosphorus and calcium, Bagòss belongs to the II° fundamental food group. It is also quite caloric, quite fat, rich in cholesterol and sodium.

Bagòss is a cheese to be tasted mainly alone; however it is also widely used grated on first courses.

Nutritional Properties

Nutritional Properties of Bagòss

Bagoss is a cheese and as such belongs to the second fundamental group of foods.

It has a very high calorie and fat content, attributes that increase with aging – lipids are never less than 20% of dry matter.

Energy is therefore mainly provided by fats, followed by proteins and finally by few carbohydrates. Fatty acids are mainly saturated, peptides have a high biological value – that is they contain all essential amino acids in the right proportions compared to the human model – and simple carbohydrates.

Bagòss does not contain fibers and it is rich in cholesterol. As the aging process increases, it loses lactose and becomes rich in histamine. The quantity of purines is very low. Gluten is absent.

The vitamin profile is characterized by the abundance of riboflavin (vit B2) and retinol equivalents (vitamin A and RAE). There are also other water soluble factors of the B group such as thiamine (vit B1) and niacin (vit PP). As for minerals, Bagoss shows relevant concentrations of calcium, phosphor and sodium.


Bagoss Diet and Cheese

Bagoss is a hypercaloric and hyperlipidic food that does not lend itself to a low-calorie normolipidic slimming diet against overweight – especially of serious entity. The seasoned one, if grated in first courses, is allowed in portions of 5-10 g at a time.

The prevalence of saturated fatty acids and the abundance of cholesterol make Bagoss not recommended in case of hypercholesterolemia.

Thanks to the high biological value of proteins, Bagoss can be considered an excellent source of essential amino acids. It is indicated in all circumstances that require to increase these nutrients – for example general or specific malnutrition, malabsorption, increased nutritional demand such as in pregnancy or practicing sports excessively intense and prolonged etc.. However, this function is limited by the “less valuable” nutritional characteristics of cheese, which require the use of moderate consumption portions and frequency.

Lactose, present only in traces due to the abundant maturing process, makes it unsuitable for the diet for the specific intolerance of the most sensitive subjects. On the other hand, by increasing the aging, it also increases the level of histamine making it unsuitable for the diet against this type of food intolerance. It is instead relevant to the diet against celiac disease and hyperuricemia.

Because of the wide range of water soluble vitamins of group B, which mainly play the role of coenzymes, cheese can be considered a very nutritious food and useful to support many processes of cellular metabolism. In Bagòss there is also plenty of fat soluble vitamin A – or retinol equivalents (RAE) – which is necessary to keep intact the visual function, the capacity of reproduction, cell differentiation etc.

Because of the high concentration of sodium, Bagoss cheese must be avoided or significantly limited in the diet against sodium sensitive arterial hypertension.

The abundance of calcium and phosphorus is a very useful nutritional property to optimize skeletal metabolism, for example during growth, in pregnancy (in which Bagòss, for hygienic reasons, must be cooked) and in old age – prevention of bone rarefaction from osteoporosis. Note: for bone health is also necessary to ensure the intake of vitamin D.

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

The average portion of Bagòss cheese is about 80g.


Description of Bagoss

Bagòss is large – at least 40-55 cm in diameter – with a circular to flattened shape – the heel, straight, is about 10.5-12 cm. The weight is included between 14-22 kg – according to whether it is winter or summer.

The crust of the Bagòss, not too thick but which increases in entity with the seasoning, is dark brown or reddish – during the seasoning, it is regularly greased with pasteurized linseed oil which tends to oxidize.

Bagòss has a compact, uniform paste, possibly with very fine eyes. The consistency is very hard, not very elastic and it breaks up into flakes; the color is straw yellow. It is very similar to the Brescian cheese Nostrano “Valtrompia” which, on the other hand, enjoys the recognition of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).

The flavor of Bagòss is full, rich, aromatic, spicy as the cheese ages and never bitter; the addition of saffron is not perceptible. The prevailing taste is savory.

Bagòss is not all the same. Since the annual production is uninterrupted, Bagoss takes on distinctive characteristics depending on the type of milk: from the mountain pastures – summer period – or from the valley floor – winter period. What changes the properties of the milk, and therefore of the finished cheese, besides the climate of processing and aging, is the chemical composition of the liquid, influenced by the feeding of the cattle – fresh grass or hay with feed.


Bagòss in cooking

Locally, or more generally in the North of the peninsula, Bagoss often appears among the appetizers or among the dishes based on dairy products; it is often combined with cold cuts or other typical foods (rye bread, polenta fried in lard, etc.). On its own, it is eaten above all in the first year of seasoning; very mature, it is more often used grated.

Grated Bagòss is used to accompany various types of pasta dishes, both dry and brothy, especially those based on cereals, legumes and vegetables – or derivatives thereof. Polenta with Bagòss is very well known, either spooned or roasted, with melted cheese or with fondue – with milk cream. Famous are the “mereconde”, that is a soup with cheese and breadcrumbs, egg, parsley and broth. Bagòss-filled pastas, such as ravioli, are very popular. Long pasta (e.g. pappardelle) and short pasta (e.g. penne), with egg or semolina, even in broth (maltagliati), can be enriched with this cheese. Famous are the soups of cereals and legumes with grated Bagoss. Some people also grate Bagoss on canederli (dumplings).

It can also be used for seasoning second courses of many kinds, such as, for example, grilled fillet steak – with Bagòss fondue.

Generally, to the recipes with Bagòss in which the taste of cheese is prevalent, or to the one of just 12 months, are associated red wines such as Franciacorta Rosso, Capriano del Colle, Granato or Marchese di Villamarina.


Manufacturing of Bagòss

Bagoss is a cow’s milk cheese – Bruna or Pezzata Rossa breed.

It can be made in alpine dairies or in winter. The first is produced directly in the high mountains, where the cattle graze freely; the second is produced in the factories at the bottom of the valley, with milk supplied by the herdsmen, who partially feed the animals with various forages (straw, etc.). The cheese-making technique is the same.

Raw milk from several milkings is heated in copper pots over low heat to 37-39°C. Rennet powder is added (1.5 – 2.5 g per 100 kg of milk), mixed and left to rest for 45-70 minutes; coagulation occurs and thermophilic lactic bacteria develop.

The curd is then broken up: first the mass is cut with the so-called “spada” or “lira”, turning the cheese mass with the “spannarola”, waiting for the deposit on the bottom; then it is broken up with the “spino” making it thin and fine.

Everything is cooked at 47-57 °C. Saffron is then added to the curd to increase the yellow pigmentation. The mass is filtered with cloths to drain the whey, placed in “fascere” (moulds) and pressed for a few hours. (moulds) and pressed for 24 hours.

It is then dry-salted with coarse salt, alternately on the sides and on the heel.

The cheese is then aged for at least 12 and up to 48 months, during which time the rind is repeatedly scraped and greased with linseed oil – once raw, now pasteurized. From 100 kg of milk, 5-6 kg of cheese are obtained; the yield is 8-9% at 24 hours and 5-7% at full maturity.