The cheese factory that we visited is a part of the cheese association in that valley. The milk is fermented in a metal container. The machine pasteurizes the milk, heating it to 70°C for 2 to 5 minutes. The milk is then cooled to 35°C before being transferred to another tank. They add animal rennet and mix to form curds. The curds are dumped onto a metal table where they use a chitarra to cut the curds. They use plastic containers with holes on the bottom to separate the curds and whey. They turn the cheese 6 times for symmetry. After 10 minutes in the container, the cheese is kept for 24 hours in the hot room for evaporation and slow down formation of crust. They add salt manually and then store in cellar.
They produce many types of cheeses based on the temperature of the milk and size of the curds. The best cheese is from colder milk which turns white with fine grains which makes intense flavor. The warmer milk makes yellow cheese. Bigger cheese grains is more common. The leftover whey is used to make ricotta by boiling it in a large tub to 80°C. When ready, it floats to the top. In the cellar, they store Pecorino Stagionato up to 1.5 years. They wash off the mold, which is a good sign of aging, every 15 days. The softer cheese is stored for 6 months. They paint the cheese with natural coloring: yellow for fresh, red for semistagionato, and black for old. All the cheeses are in groups of 120, with stamped information. I noticed that they follow strict sanitation rules with needing to wear hairnets even though no cheese was being made. All the equipment were stainless steel and clean. I never thought that there were so many steps to making cheese.
We tasted pecorino fresco, pecorino stagionato, and pecorino stagionato with pepper, and ricotta. The fresco was nearly white, soft, and chewy. The taste reminded me of American cheese. The stagionato was yellower and harder. The taste was sharper and dry. The brine taste weird. The stagionato with pepper was decent. It had a slight peppery taste, but when I ate the peppercorn, it overwhelming pepper. The ricotta was amazing. It was white, fluffy, and creamy. The texture was like a better tasting cottage cheese. The shape was like tiny clouds. The taste was slightly sweet and was a good topping on bread.