Local cheese

Artisan cheese from Sicily, La Tuma "ammucciata"

Local cheese

Artisan cheese from Sicily, La Tuma "ammucciata"

The history, the influence of ancient civilizations, the diversity of climate and landscapes all contribute to the rich gastronomy of Sicily, a wonderland of discoveries.

If you are the kind of cheese lover who is intrigued by discovering peculiar cheeses from different parts of the world you would not want to miss this artisan cheese made in Sicily. This cheese is produced according to an ancient method of conservation: La Tuma “ammucciata”.
 

What makes this peculiar cheese unique?

Well, firstly this cheese is prepared with the milk of an idigenous goat with a mythological past, in Italian it is called the Capra Girgentana. Furthermore, its elaboration is something special: the cheese matures for one to two months, and then it is immersed in liquid plaster and seasoned at room temperature for at least 90 days.
Absorbent and breathable, the plaster ensures ideal moisture to favor a slow and uniform maturation.

Local goat from Sicily
Peculiar goat cheese Sicily
Local cheesemaker in Sicily with indigenous goats

The story behind this artisan cheese

This ancient ageing method was started by local shepherds to protect the cheese from the looting of bandits. Using this plaster cast, cheese was effectively hidden (“ammucciata” means hidden in Sicilian dialect) in concrete walls. As the years rolled by it was discovered that conserving the cheese in this manner was effective and improved the characteristics and aromas of this goat cheese. Today Sicilian cheesemakers are still following this ancient tradition as they continue to produce this excellent Girgentana goat cheese.

The spiraled horned goat and its milk

The Girgentana goat was named after Girgenti, the ancient name of the city of Agrigento.
It is assumed that this elegant animal arrived in Sicily with the Greek civilization, and in the ancient world, it symbolized prosperity.

Legend tells us that the milk of this goat fed the father of the god Jupiter and its horn was considered a container of wealth, richness, and opulence.

The use of Girgentana goat milk has ancient origins.
Not surprisingly, until a few decades ago, it was not uncommon to see shepherds and their goats stopped in small urban centers providing housewives with milk to prepare breakfast for young and old alike.

Girgentana goats were considered an endangered species just a few years ago, (in 1996 the population was down to only 200 individuals, today that number has increased to about 4,000). Thanks to the patient and loving work of some breeders, this species is no longer at risk of extinction.

The Girgentana goat is recognized by the Slow Food Presidium project (a worldwide organization that safeguards food biodiversity) and cheese farms must follow the strict quality criterion such as:

    • organic farming
    • free pastures
    • natural mating
    • preservation of traditional techniques
    • protection of an endangered breed

       

Local cheesemakers selling peculiars cheese
Indigenous goats from Agrigento Italy

Excellent cheese originates from quality milk

Girgentana goat milk has an excellent fat-protein ratio, and it does not present the typical goat milk aroma. It is light and digestible, it’s very similar to breast milk.
This milk is fairly rich in iron and zinc, two very important trace minerals from the nutritional point of view.
Generally, goat cheese is more tolerated by people with food allergies (including milk and cow’s cheese) such as children.

One more time Sicily is home to an outstanding cheese producer

The Azienda Agricola Montalbo is formed by small breeders and makers of Girgentana goat cheese driven by passion and perseverance.
The company was founded in 1999 with the main purpose of protecting this beautiful native Sicilian species that was in those years at risk of extinction.
This association was created by a few farmers in the area of Agrigento who, in addition to being among the last custodians of this special spiral-horned breed, provided milk for the cheese factory.
In this way, they have succeeded in achieving important results for the protection of the local biodiversity which benefits and gives prestige to the entire island.
The Azienda Agricola Montalbo is one of the very few producers of Girgentana goat cheese that Italy can count on.
This cheese factory makes a huge variety of cheeses. A paradise for cheese lovers who can find fresh cheeses, cured cheeses, some with vegetable rennet, or rennet free.
The images below speak for themselves.
If you are looking for a quality cheese supplier feel free to contact us!

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Agrigento, the city of the gods

Valleys, hills, magnificent monuments, and ancient temples, almost all dating back to the period when Greece and Southern Italy were the centers of the world.
Agrigento is the city of eternal beauty and a millennial charm, unchanged over time. This is the land of Valley of the Temples, a 2,500 years old magic place that is one of the most famous and most beautiful archaeological sites on the planet. It has been included in the UNESCO world heritage site list since 1997.
It is no coincidence that Pindaro, one of the most important Greek poets, defined Agrigento as the most beautiful city of mortals.

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