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Designation of Origin.
This cheese is one of the oldest and most extended types of cheese in all Asturias.
It is called "Afuega'l Pitu" for its tendency to stick to a person's palate and pharynx ("pitu" in the Asturian language) when eaten.
It is prepared throughout the entire year. The particularity of this cheese is that the curdling of the milk is mainly acid. The process varies for each type of cheese.
In the case of white cheese, the acid curdles are introduced into a cloth of an appropriate size to form a bag. It is then strained and hung to drain slowly at the same time that the fermentation process continues. Salt is added either to the milk or when the curdles are being mixed in the cloth or by rubbing the salt on after taking the curdles from the cloth bag. The cheese may remain in the cloth mould from 24 to 48 hours. After that time, it can be consumed fresh, causing the so-called "afuega'pitu" properties, or it may be left to mature in fresh, ventilated areas, where the cheese acquires a range of pleasant flavours.
In the case of the Red variety, before introducing the cheese into the cloth, it is conveniently mixed with paprika and cayenne pepper to the preference of the manufacturer at the same time as it is salted. It then continues with the same system as the white variety; the cheese is compacted with the aid of the cloth, which provides it with its final shape. After moulding, it is left to mature for several weeks until it acquires the desired quality.
In the case of the "Atroncaos", the curds are introduced into moulds in the shape of trunks (called "barreñas") in small portions. The cheese is removed from the moulds the following day, salted and either sold fresh or placed in maturing rooms where it remains for 15 to 30 days.
Raw cow milk.
Milk ferments, salt and, in the Red variety, cayenne pepper and paprika.
Type: Soft or semihard
Shape: Mainly two: pear-shaped with folds on the top part. It achieves this shape from being hung inside the cloth to drain whey and is typical of White and Red cheese. Conical-trunk shape in the case of the "Atoncau" type from Grado
Weight: Variable, between 300 and 600 grams
Rind: White, smooth, very light in the thicker fresh types. In the cured types, it is humid, dun-yellowish and sometimes presents areas with white and blue-green fungi. The Red Aramo type appears more orangy, although it lacks a real rind as such, forming a whole
Paste: In the case of the pear-shaped cheese types, it is granular, without holes, white or yellowish depending on the age, and dry to the palate. In the case of red cheese, it is orangy with reddish tones, it is not creamy. In the case of the "Atroncau" from Grado, the paste is firm, compact, without holes, it breaks into horizontal slices which can sometimes be seen in the cheese
Aroma: Depending on its level of curing, it is slightly acid in young cheese and smoother as maturing advances. Pepper in Red cheese
Flavour: Milky, acid and not at all salty in the case of mature cheese. Not very greasy, especially as it increases in age. Strong and spicy in Red cheese types.
The origin of this cheese is still unkown today or, rather, unspecified, although it is considered to be one of the oldest types of cheese in the Principality of Asturias.
There are currently two clearly defined areas for "Afuega'l Pitu": around the Aramo mountains and the lower areas of the Nalon River (councils of Riosa, Morcín, Quirós) and Narcea River (councils of Grado, Pravia, Salas, Tineo, Candamo, Yermes and Tameza...).
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
The festival dedicated to "Afuega' l pitu" cheese is held on the Sunday following the 17th of January, feast of Saint Antón, at the town of La Foz de Morcín.