Background and objectives Making cheese by coagulating milk with extracts or parts of plants is a tradition of many countries facing the Mediterranean basin. Such cheeses were historically produced from sheep and goat milk and represent an important cultural heritage. In the European Union (EU), nowadays, their production is allowed only after legal validation of the manufacturing process under the hygienic point of view. Unfortunately, validation has been possible only for a few Protected Designation of Origin cheeses, but other dairy products exist for which it has not been carried out. It is the case of the caprifig sap cheeses produced in the “Murgia” highplain, Apulia region, Southern Italy. In this rural marginal area, three cheeses have been historically made by this coagulant: milk sap ricotta, Pampanella, and Cacioricotta. Due to the above legal concerns, they have become very rare and, if no action is taken, they will disappear very soon. The main purpose of the present work was to make a survey about the status of preservation of their processing methods and to document them before it is too late. A second aim was to perform a first summary investigation about their safety and compositional and sensory characteristics. Methods A series of face-to-face interviews was conducted to owners and cheesemakers of sheep and goat farms laying in the Murgia Hills territory. Cheese samples were prepared at three different rural dairies and subjected to chemical, microbiological, and sensory analyses. Results and conclusions The survey confirmed that caprifig sap cheeses are still occasionally produced for family consumption, mainly from goat milk in the southern part of the highplain. They have the common characteristic of deriving from milk subjected to strong heat treatment and containing both casein and whey proteins. The manufacturing procedures were observed, and two different methods of preparing and using caprifig sap were documented. The cheesemaking process was analyzed and discussed under a technological point of view, and geo-sociological connections were hypothesized. The three cheeses presented significant sensory differences and proved to potentially match the EU hygienic standards if the post-vat operations are performed under correct conditions. Overall, the study gave a contribution for the hygienic validation of the manufacturing process in view of a possible rebirth.
|Titolo:||Making cheese with caprifig sap in Apulia, Italy: possible rebirth of an ancient tradition|
FACCIA, Michele (Corresponding)
|Data di pubblicazione:||2019|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|