Aquilano Caciofiore

Ark of taste
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This fresh, delicate cheese is traditionally associated with the province of L’Aquila, where it has always been made using vegetable rennet obtained from an infusion of the flowers of wild artichoke (Carlina acaulis). Production was abandoned for about 60 years before a tenacious Castel del Monte cheesemaker revived the tradition. Whole raw milk is filtered and brought to a temperature of 36-37°C. Whey or a milk starter culture may be added to encourage souring. After coagulation with the cardoon rennet, the curd is left to stand for 30-40 minutes. It is then cut up twice, roughly the first time, then into smaller sweetcorn-sized lumps. The curd is then removed by hand and transferred into the baskets that give it its characteristic shape. Caciofiore then drains on an inclined board for two days, during which time it is turned over at least four times. It is characterized by a soft, creamy body, cream white in colour and with no eyes; its top and bottom are 13-15 cm in diameter, its height about 7-8 cm and its weight ranging from 0.5 to one kilo.

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Milk and milk products