Let’s Talk Cheese: Part 4

An important step during the heating of the milk is stirring it. The cheese maker takes what looks like a broom (It sort of is.) and continuously stirs to break up the curdling milk (That is, for pecorino cheese, which in this scenario, is what “we are making.”). Once he (or she) is happy with the consistency of the curds (This process can take about an hour.), he ladles them (It’s very meditative to watch!) into baskets that are waiting on a sterilized stainless steel, angled tub. This is what you see pictured.

Notice the hand pressing the curds down and pushing out the whey (the yellow liquid; in Italian, siero di latte). The angled tub is important because the whey collects in a bucket waiting below the tub’s drain. This whey is important for something else later. But for now, note the fluffy, creamy curds taking shape in the plastic baskets. These curds will be massaged a bit for the next couple of hours with the mission to drain as much liquid out of them as possible.

In this state, it is already a simple farmer’s cheese called tuma.

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