From farms to lactic bacteria: our Sicilian production chain

A cheese can truly be defined as Sicilian when the entire production chain is rooted in the same territory – Sicily in this case.
But what elements constitute the cheese production chain? As a rule, these elements include the farms where the animals are bred and the animals themselves, milk as a raw material and its transportation, and the cheese factory producing the final product.

We add two more: the animals’ feed and the lactic bacteria used to make the cheese. In our cheese factory, both are Sicilian.

All the steps of our cheese production chain

Transparency, traceability, proximity, and all the advantages that derive from decreased production times and reduced environmental impact are the advantages of a short production chain.

All the products of our cheese factory come from a Sicilian production chain, which is a powerful tool for the promotion of our territory, community, and traditions, both for us and the other players involved.

Pasture areas and animal nutrition

The origin of excellent milk lies in the nutrition of the animals producing it. For this reason, the production chain of our cheeses starts with our territory. The animals from which we get our milk feed on what spontaneously grows in the pasture. The farms from which we source are located between the provinces Catania, Enna, Messina, and Ragusa, and many of them fall into the territory of natural parks and protected areas.

The cattle’s feeding is integrated only in the winter months, with what farmers have sown during the year and then harvested: clover, sulla, wheat, clover hay, vetch, oat, and barley.

This kind of feed, healthy and natural, gives the milk a unique organoleptic profile and sensory notes that are then reflected in the cheese.
For this reason, the taste of our cheeses changes slightly from season to season – it is not standardized, but rather dependent on seasonality, altitude, and botanical composition of the pastures.

Our Sicilian farmers and attention to animal welfare

Our suppliers are small and medium farms, located at a short distance from our cheese factory in Randazzo, a medieval town on the northern slope of the Etna, at the crossroads between three natural parks – the Etna Park, the Nebrodi Park, and the Alcantara River Park. 

We source from more than one hundred farmers, with whom we are personally acquainted, and we have established a relationship of trust that has lasted for two generations, even three in some cases. We have chosen them since we share the same respect for our territory and for the animals, as well as the same passion for the work we do.

All the farmers involved in our production chain follow the principles of animal welfare. Sheep and cows live in free-range stables and are free to move in the grazing areas, where they feed on what they find.

The milk is collected respecting the natural cycle, without forcing production. In most cases, sheep are manually milked. Some farmers have milking parlors, others are planning to purchase milking machines. We collect sheep’s milk from October to the beginning of June only; cow’s milk instead is collected all year round, though in significantly lower quantities during the summer months.

Transport and processing of milk

We process around 20,000 liters of fresh milk every day. We collect milk daily with our tanks and transport it to our dairy, where it is subjected to analysis by our laboratory. After passing all stages of the control process, the milk is stored in silos and processed within 24 hours.

Many steps of the processing of our cheeses are carried out manually: the shaping of the curd, the spinning of mozzarella, the salting, and the control of aging. We combine these artisanal processes with some semi-industrial processes (such as milk pasteurization) to offer products that reflect our dairy traditions and are safe in every respect.

Native lactic bacteria and other ingredients of our cheeses

In addition to the milk, the lactic bacteria we use for our cheeses are also 100% Sicilian. To be precise, we use a microbial population native to Etna that we have managed to isolate after years of research and that today we use to make our canestrato cheese. The peculiar taste of our cheeses is also due to these bacteria, which contribute to the development of the aroma during maturation.

Some of our specialties, such as canestrato cheese and provola, are enriched with other ingredients: dried fruit, verdello lemon, or dried tomato, just to give some examples. The suppliers that provide us with these ingredients are historical and certified companies, whose products meet the highest quality standards.

In our dairy factory, milk fermentation takes place naturally, thanks to the action of lactic bacteria. This process certainly takes more time but is crucial to obtain a unique and high-quality dairy product.

Safety and certifications

We believe safety means checking both the process and the products in a rigorous manner. We constantly monitor the conditions of the farms we source from, in compliance with current health and safety regulations.

All the milk that arrives in our dairy is subjected to screening analysis (research of inhibiting substances and somatic cells, analysis of bacterial count, fat and protein count, etc.) which ensures the quality and safety of the raw material. Finally, the pasteurization of milk adds an additional level of protection for final consumers.

Our focus on the safety and quality of raw materials, processes, and final products has allowed us to obtain BRC 9 and IFS 7 certifications.

The imprint of our territory

Free grazing, chosen raw materials, traditional processing – each step of our production chain contributes to the creation of typical Sicilian cheeses, whose potential lies in diversity.

The organoleptic and sensory profile of our dairy products bears the imprint left by our territory, to which we are inextricably connected.

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