Ricotta cheese has played an important role in Italian food for hundreds of years and tradition says that it originated in Sicily from where its popularity spread throughout Italy. If you visit Sicily you're sure to eat Ricotta cheese many times during your stay. Fresh breakfast pastries are filled with this sweet luscious filling and make the perfect accompaniment to your morning coffee, there are the ricotta filled desserts including the famous Sicilian cannoli and cassata and you're sure to eat some pasta dishes with a soft, creamy ricotta sauce.
We visited an artisan cheesemaker in the province of Trapani in Western Sicily with one of our Harvest Tour groups and experienced the art of ricotta cheese making.
In the culinary world ricotta is not classed as a cheese but more of a creamy curd which is often a by product of another Sicilian cheese such as Pecorino. The word ricotta comes from the Latin word which means cooked twice. It is made from the whey, the watery liquid left over after another cheese has been made. The whey is heated again with rennet and the curds that have risen to the surface are scooped into a container, drained and prepared for aging.
It's not a complicated process, one that you can even do at home, but the Cucchiara family, with 5 generations of cheesemakers, have perfected the art of perfect ricotta. Believe me ... we got to taste it! We even got to visit the sheep which are hand milked every morning and Vitina got to try her hand at milking one of them! This photo below shows one of our tour guests petting a baby lamb.
We had so much fun on our tour in Sicily, we always take our guests off the beaten tourist path so that you can experience the real Sicily. We'd love you to come with us. If you'd like to find out more:
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Check out the video below to get a taste of Sicily.