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Caprino abruzzese

Abruzzo goat cheese - Caprino abruzzese

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In Abruzzo two types of “caprino”, or goat’s cheese, are made, differing in the way they are produced, in appearance and in texture: there is a creamy, soft type made by lactic coagulation (produced in the area of Farindola, Province of Pescara), easy to spread and eaten fresh. The type of goat cheese made by renneting (produced in the Sagittario Valley, especially around Villalago, Province of L’Aquila) is a hard paste with medium, round eyes, and has a rind, unlike the fresh variety.

The ingredients are the same for both cheeses: whole raw goat’s milk (a small percentage of ewe’s milk may be added to make it more solid), rennet (only for renneted cheese), salt.  Goat cheese made by lactic coagulation starts by filtering of the milk into a cauldron to remove any impurities and by mixing in whey or starter cultures to improve acidification through addition of thermophilic microbial lactic flora. The milk is brought to coagulation in 20-24 hours. When this has been achieved, the curds are collected in cloth bags and baskets (called “fuscelle”) are filled, then set on the “tavolo spersorio” (a sloping workbench) to encourage whey to drain out so that the desired consistency is reached. The cheeses are then refrigerated at 4°C. When the cheese is removed from the basket it is moulded, salted and smoothed, then replaced in the baskets. 
Renneted “caprino” requires the addition of rennet (in amounts suitable for the acidity of the milk) when it reaches coagulation temperature, stirring the mixture for a few minutes, then leaving it for about 20-30 minutes, the amount of time required to finish coagulation.
The consistency of the curds produced is checked and these are then broken, followed by further heating to 35-38°C, for 10 minutes, to finish purg ing of whey. During this second heating period the mass has to be stirred the whole  time  to  prevent  some  parts  heating  more  than  others,  which would stop whey being discharged. The cheese is then hand-ladled into baskets (called “fuscelle”), squeezing out any whey residue. These baskets are set on a sloping surface, called a “tavolo spersorio”, to help the whey drain off into a container, where it is collected to use as a starter culture.
Finally the cheese is dry salted or steeped in saturated brine. After this the cheeses are left to age in cool, airy premises; in the past they were kept in wooden cabinets for maturing. 
The “caprino” made by lactic coagulation is produced in the area of Farindola, Province of Pescara, and although there is no documented tradition for its past production, in this district it is common practice to mix goat’s milk and
ewe’s milk to make cheese. 
On the other hand, historical sources indicate that in the Valle del Sagittario, the home of renneted “caprino”, goat rearing was an old and consolidated tradition, as described by De Nino in an 1864 publication. 

L.T.-21-01-2021