The king of all traditional local cheeses is pecorino, made usually, from a mixture of goat’s and ewe’s milk. There is, of course, the excellent ricotta produced in the period between the Epiphany -when all the kids and lambs have been weaned – until late May or early June – when the goats and the sheep begin to mate again and cease to produce milk. At Easter it was the custom – and continues to be the custom in Bova- to make a gift of tuma, a fresh unsalted cheese, shaped using traditional pats of carved mulberry-wood called musulupare. This cheese is one of the main ingredients of the Easter-morning omelette.
Caprino d’Aspromonte [Goat’s cheese]
This cheese is made from unpasteurised goat’s milk and may be eaten soft or hard, fresh or seasoned for a few months. In the first case it has no crust, in the second its crust assumes a greyish- brownish colour, because , as it seasons, it is rubbed with oil and vinegar. It is cylindrical and flat in shape. The average wheel is 18-20 centimetres in diameter and furrowed on the surface. The average wheel weights about 2-3 kilos. The fresh cheese has a wrinkled appearance – an impression left by the wicker canister in which it sets – is white in colour; its texture is uniform, while the more mature cheese tends to be brownish on the surface and irregularly pitted on the inside.
The ingredients of this cheese are goat’s milk, rennet and salt; when fresh it is somewhat tangy, slightly blander after about 30 days, piquant after at least 180 days. The longer it is cured the sharper the smell and the flavour.
The Caprino d’Aspromonte cheese is made from raw [unpasteurised] goat’s milk, milked by hand. That milk obtained in the evening is stored at room temperature in a special dairy or in buckets hung in the open air. It is made into cheese the next day along with the morning’s milk.
After being made – during the first six months of the year – the curd is placed in elongated cylindrical shaped fascedde [wicker moulds] about 25 by 6 centimetres in diameter, once made of cane, today, because of health and safety regulations, of stainless steel. The fascedde are stood on slightly sloping tables to permit the whey to drain off and be collected and used to feed animals. During the maturation phase, the cheeses are frequently turned over and rubbed with oil and vinegar.
It is mostly the fresh cheese that is sold; only a small amount is left to mature.
Musulupu is a traditional table cheese, of Greek-Albanian origin. Also called musulucu, it is produced all year but at Easter it is one of the main ingredients used to make the Easter omelette.
The particular name is of Greek origin and means the wolf’s morsel. The characteristic of this cheese is its form. Its surface is embellished with typically Orthodox iconographic symbols impressed on it by finely carved pats, called musulupare. The musulupare – which the families who own guard jealously – contain different symbolic motifs referring to the Earth Mother and fertility. The real musulupo is made from pressed carici, the chunks that form in the whey after cheese making, but before the ricotta is made. This cheese is processed at a temperature of about 60 ° C, so that when it is put into the Easter omelette it does not become stringy, but remains intact. This unique cheese is produced exclusively by availing of traditional methods and implements and is available only fresh and without seasoning. It lasts only a few days so it must be consumed quickly.
Musulupu is spherical in shape and uniformly white in colour; it has a soft texture and a diameter varying between 10 and 12 centimetres; it weighs an average of about 200 grams.
Ricotta [an Italian dairy product a bit like cottage cheese]
Is a typical fresh cheese, widespread in this area where it is made from the milk of sheep, goat or cow (mixed breeds that graze extensively on the area’s pastures), salt and a small amount of milk added to enhance the whey; its comes in the shape of a cylinder with a diameter of 10 centimetres or of a truncated cone with a base of 25 centimetres, a top of 6 centimetres in diameter.
Ricotta is obtained by coagulating the serum left after making cheese to which milk is added, and brought to a temperature of between 78 ° C and 90 ° C and once placed in rattan fascedde, now in stainless steel moulds, in compliance with health and safety regulations.
Although ricotta is generally consumed fresh, traditionally, a small quantity is seasoned (covered in salt), a practice which arose from the need to preserve a part of the product one was unable eat or put on the market. Now salted ricotta is a much-sought-after niche product.
Salted ricotta may be barely cured (in which case it remains soft) and cut into slices to be served as hors d’oeuvres, or mature (in which case it is hard) to be grated onto pasta, especially maccharruni.