Once our ladies have been happily and healthfully fed, during the spring, after they’ve given birth, they give the most milk. Sheep are milked twice per day – every 12 hours, let’s say, at 7 a.m. and again at 7 p.m. Slow food and DOP farms milk by hand. Others use machines to milk their sheep. The important thing is that the milk is then brought to the dairy laboratory, where in a cauldron, it is heated up to a high temperature (depends on the laws of the land how high that is) to kill any unwanted bacteria, etc. (i.e. Pasteurization).
After letting it cool somewhat, when the dairy farmer deems the milk is the right temperature, he’ll add a cocktail of good bacteria and rennet (caglio in Italian) to it. Rennet – the key to it all – is a set of enzymes that comes from the stomach of a lamb (or calf in the case of cows) that hasn’t yet eaten anything but its mother’s milk. In the cauldron of the hot milk, after some minutes, the rennet separates the milk into curds (like a fluffy milk pudding) and whey (liquid).
Pictured you can see the white-ish curds (cagliata in Italian) and the yellow whey (siero di latte in Italian).
To be continued…