Cheese and Ricotta

The Elba Island once lived mainly on agriculture, pastoralism, fishing and work in the mines. However, with the arrival of tourism these heavy jobs have been abandoned by the new generations that have specialized in the tourism offer far more profitable and less tiring. However, there are still some exceptions on the Elba Island and these ancient crafts have not yet gone completely lost for this reason we tell and testify with pleasure the working day of a pastor of the island.

The Ricotta

The term Ricotta means "cooked twice" because the fat and dairy proteins are subjected to two successive heat treatments: first of the milk, during the processing of the cheese, then the residual whey, for the production of ricotta cheese. There are various kinds of ricotta cheese, which have different characteristics depending on the properties of the milk and the type of cheese from which it derives. The production of ricotta is based on coagulation and precipitation of albumin by means of heat.

Production of ricotta cheese: the serum obtained during the cheese manufacturing process after forming and placing of the curd in the moulds, is worked in heated tanks at a temperature of 65° C. Subsequently the whole milk is added. Subsequently, when the temperature reaches 80°C - 90°C, it is added acid whey or lactic acid, for lowering the pH. In the next step, the serum proteins precipitate carrying with them air and steam, and coalesce into a gelatinous aggregate that emerges from the machining tank. At this point the heating is suspended and the ricotta surface is left for about 5 minutes, then it is withdrawn into the perforated ladles and mass in the moulds to eliminate the liquid part. The curd is allowed to dry and then started to packaging and distribution plants.

From sheep serum you are obtained a production of ricotta of 7 - 8% and the finished product is a white colour soft dough marked and delicate flavour.

The last of Elba pastors

On the hills of Marina di Campo, in the greenery of a quiet and farmer countryside, lives the last Island’s pastor. In the house sits on a knoll, lives Luciano Urru. Shepherd from when I was 12, runs the latest Elba company of delicious ricotta cheese and an intense and inviting aroma production.

A trade in endangered, that Urru perhaps did not choose. Son and grandson of original shepherds of Sardinia, began working the sheep when as a boy, after school helped his father in the pasture. Since then he has never thought to do another job. His life are the turf of the campaign and his sheep. A life without holidays or days off. Wake up every morning at 6:00, for over 30 years. A hard life that has transformed this ancient and tiring job, a real rarity.

"Adapting to the pastoral rhythms if you were not born is very difficult.," explains Luciano. The first task of the morning is milking. Every day, one by one, as in a ritual, sheep are allowed at the hands of Luciano, with decisive gestures and delicate at the same time. The milk is then filtered and poured, and then poured into a large pot, where after forty minutes on low heat, will form the rennet, the basis for the cheese. The clotted milk is collected in a basket and softened by hand with the patience of a slow time that must pass without haste. Shredding can last an hour for each basket. Pressed and salted is ready for the cheese. In the same pot, with an addition of milk is then prepared the renowned ricotta of Luciano. But there's more. The sheep have to eat, because otherwise not produce milk. Luciano has to find green pastures and good grass. The Urru company is a small business that can not afford fenced and planted fields. Then wandering through the countryside, there is need to change the area and walk a lot, especially in summer, when the grass is scarce (are medical herbs, clover and oats the most delicious that produce the best milk). The second round of pasture is from 18:00 until 20:00, when Luciano and his flock fall for the night. And the next morning starts again.

Luciano started helping his father Antonio to run the business since he was 12 years old, in the morning before going to school and then in the afternoon after class.

Brought the work of manual and a life in the open air, he never abandoned the craft that has entered the blood since his young age. In addition, since those days, and even after the parents left the island to return to Meana Sardo, village of origin of Urru, Luciano continued to do his work producing excellent cheeses, appreciated by Elba people and tourists. A history of migration and return to the roots, where Luciano has been the last representative of Elban shepherds. A trade that was of his father and before of his grandfather.

Ricotta cheese mousse

Ricotta cheese mousse

Ricotta cheese mousse is a delicious cake in many different versions, some of them with fruit as well.

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