Fontina Cheese


A semisoft Italian cheese that is earthy and full-flavored when aged. Often served as a dessert cheese and with hors d'oeuvres.Fontina cheese is a classic Italian cheese, although variations are made in several other countries as well. Depending on where the cheese comes from and how long it has been aged, fontina can be semisoft to firm in texture, with a range of flavors from mild and creamy to more intense and pungent.


Other names: fontina, Italian cheese
Translations: Fontina Siers, Fontina Sūriai, Fontina Brânză, Fontina sira, Fontinakaas, Fontina पनीर, Queijo Fontina, Фонтина сыра, Fontina Τυρί, Fontina الجبن, Fontina 치즈, Fontina Sýry, Fontina Keju, Fontina奶酪, Formatge Fontina, Fontina Sir, Fontina Syry, Fontina, Fontina גבינה, Fontina ost, Фонтина сир, フォンティーナチーズ, Fontina, Fontina, Fontina ost, Queso Fontina, Фонтіна сиру, Fontina Juusto, Fontina сирене

Physical Description

All fontinas must be made from cow's milk. As a general rule, the milk is usually raw, and the best fontina cheese is made from milk which is as fresh as possible. The interior of the cheese tends to be a rich straw yellow to pale cream in color, and it is classically riddled with very small holes. The milkfat content is usually around 45%, so the cheese tends to be very rich and creamy, with a nutty flavor which gets stronger with aging. The cheese also melts very well, and it is sometimes included in fondue and similar dishes.

Colors: white

Tasting Notes

Flavors: tea, ginger ale
Mouthfeel: Hot, Sweet, Sharp
Food complements: Pepper, Garlic, Coarse polenta, Sourdough bread, Red peppers, Salami
Wine complements: White wine
Beverage complements: Tea, Ginger ale
Substitutes: Emmental, Gruyere, Provolone, Swiss, Jack or fresh mozarella

Selecting and Buying

Seasonality: january, february, march, april, may, june, july, august, september, opctober, november, december
Choosing: Fontina cheese is a soft-ripened cow's milk cheese that is straw yellow to pale yellow in color. This slightly firm to creamy cheese is usually covered by a semi-hard red-orange to light brown rind. Fontina has a buttery, nutty-like flavor that is slightly acidic and salty. Always check the expiration date on the wrapper when selecting fontina to ensure the product is as fresh as possible. In many cases price correlates to quality because more expensive cheeses may be aged longer or come from small artisan producers.
Buying: When selecting fontina cheese in the store, look for an evenly textured specimen without discoloration. Older Italian cheese may have a strong aroma, but young cheese should have a relatively neutral flavor, especially in wrappings. An Italian fontina stamped with the mark of the consortium will have a high quality, although it may cost more than imitations of the cheese made in other parts of Italy and the rest of the world.
Procuring: How to Make Fontina Cheese

Fontina cheese is a softer cheese originating from the Italian Alps where a specific breed of cows are raised in a pristine micro-climate and milked to produce the creamy milk rich in natural vitamins and flavors for this cheese. The totally organic, nutty-flavored cheese was popularized in North America by the Danes, but you can try to make your own version. You will not be able to call it Fontina since your ingredients and procedure will be different, but it will be similar.


Gather the fresh, unpasteurized, organic milk from a grass-fed cow. It should be fresh, no more than two hours old, if possible. If no such milk is available, use the freshest whole milk you can find.

Heat the milk and rennet in a stockpot to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove it from the heat and allow it to sit covered for one hour so the rennet has a chance to curdle the milk.

Strain the curds through the layers of cheesecloth and squeeze to remove as much of the whey as possible. Place the curds into a prepared sterilized mold and press for 12 hours.

Remove the cheese from the mold and store on a pine shelf in a cave or basement where the humidity is a high 80 to 90 percent and the temperature is about 50 degrees (F).

Rinse the cheese with brine every other day and brush it on alternate days to prevent buildup of mold on the rind. Flip the cheese daily so the bottom is exposed to the air, allowing the rind to harden equally all over. Repeat this process for three months or more.

Preparation and Use

Fontina is excellent served on its own or with crackers. Remove the rind of the cheese before using. Fontina melts very well and is easily grated. It is good for sauces, pasta dishes and fillings, lasagna, risotto, rice dishes, gratins and soufflés. It also is great with meat and poultry, in sandwiches, soups, baked potatoes and polenta. Fontina pairs very well with certain white wine varietals.

Cleaning: Remove any green or moldy rind.

Conserving and Storing

How to Store Fontina Cheese

Delicious, semi-soft fontina comes from the Aosta valley in the northwest of Italy. An essential ingredient in gratineed pasta dishes like macaroni and cheese, you can make sure that your fontina lasts longer by following a few simple storage steps.


Before you store fontina cheese at home, examine the cheese block and make sure that it is free of blemishes and signs of mold. Except with blue cheeses, visible mold means that the cheese is spoiled and must be discarded.

Choose an appropriate container for the cheese. Rindless, semi-soft cheeses like fontina should be stored in a plastic food container that maintains a humid environment for the cheese. A plastic container can also isolate these softer cheeses from the chance of absorbing flavors from other foods.

The ideal temperature for storing fontina is 35 to 40 degrees, which is close to the average temperature of a home refrigerator. Fontina also tends to freeze better than other cheeses. Freezing, rather than refrigerating, can extend the life of the cheese for a number of weeks.


The cheese is quite popular in Italian cuisine, especially in the region around the Alps where the cheese originates. Variations on the cheese have become popular around the world for a variety of cooked dishes as well as sandwiches. fontina cheese also makes a great table cheese.

History: Fontina cheese has been made in the Aosta Valley, in the Alps since the 12th century. It has a milk fat content of around 45%. As with many original varieties, the name "Fontina" has been imposed upon by such derivatives as "Fontinella", "Fontal", and "Fontella". Italian Fontina can be identified by a Consorzio (Consortium) stamp of the Matterhorn including the script "FONTINA". Although the version from Aosta is the original and the most famous, Fontina production occurs in other parts of Italy, as well as Denmark, Sweden and France. The original Fontina cheese from Italy is fairly pungent and has quite an intense flavor, although cheeses labeled Fontina that are produced in other countries tend to be much milder. The Danish version is particularly common in US grocery stores, and can be distinguished from Italian Fontina by the red wax rind (Italian Fontina has a natural rind due to aging, which is usually tan to orange-brown); Danish Fontina is much less aged, and therefore semi-soft and much milder than its Italian counterpart.



Related Cooking Videos

Comments's picture

This excellent blog, “Foodista | Recipes, Cooking Tips, and Food News | Fontina
Cheese” illustrates that you actually know just what exactly you're communicating about! I personally entirely approve. Thanks ,Juliet