The Capra Orobica (a goat breed specific to the region of the Bergamasque Alps, the Orobie) owes a considerable increase in population on the territory thanks to the valorization of the Bitto cheese, which is produced using 10 to 20% of the particular goat’s milk to give the cheese aroma and a persistent flavor. The original historical guideline for the Bitto production states that the goat milk used must derive exclusively from this specific breed of goat, thus binding the two in an ironclad tradition.
The Associazione produttori formaggi Capra Orobica (an association of cheese producers) was created to fully exploit and preserve the breed that is risking extinction, this organization adheres to another project, Principi delle Orobie, created for safeguard and development of the territory.
The origins of this breed are unknown, present also in the counties of Lecco, Como and Bergamo, it is also called Valgerola due to its prominent presence in the around Sondrio, on the Orobie mountainside, in the lower Valtellina valleys and most of all in Valgerola, where the DOP Bitto is produced adding the goat’s milk to the bovine milk.
The Capra Orobica is the only indigenous breed in northern Italy that has a Herd Book (whereas for other breeds the is only a registry) and is under the patronage of Slow Food.
The animal is characterized by a rustic appearance, with long curvy horns and long coated fur that varies in coloration from grey and cinder to beige and violet hued, particularly suitable for pasture that must last at least seven months, while during the periods in the stables must be let out at least once a week.
An exhibition takes place in Gerola every year in may, an occasion for both breeders and outsiders to get to know these nice animals.
Orobie Goat Cheeses
Besides the percentage used in the production of the Bitto, this specific goat’s milk is used to produce other exquisite cheeses, very appreciated by food lovers.
Goat cheeses are traditionally manufactured with raw milk, raw curd or slightly cooked curd, a short medium maturation period and without any added aromas like pepper, hot pepper or other.
The Fiorone is a rind variant of these typical goat cheeses.
Cheeses made with milk from the Orobie Goat are produced exclusively from pasture, without fermented fodders.