Food and Wine Itineraries
Vastedda del Belìce is the only “pasta filata” or “spun paste” sheep cheese made in Italy and it is made from whole milk from the sheep of the autochthonous race, “Valle del Belice.” Vastedda is made in accordance with a product specification code that includes some municipalities in the territories of Agrigento, Trapani and Palermo. The coagulation of the milk takes place in a wooden vat using lamb curd. The production of the curd is also realized according to tradition in the same geographical areas. Using a wooden stick the curd is finely broken and is allowed to solidify for a few minutes. At this point, the bulk is moved into rattan baskets and is allowed to stand for a period of 24-48 hours during which the cheese acidifies. When the mixture is ready to be spun, it is cut into slices. Now it is ready to be put into a “tinozzo,” or “wooden container.” Now it is covered in very hot water (80C or 90C).
After the immersion that lasts for 3 to 7 minutes, the cheese paste is spun using a wooden paddle. Once it has reached the proper texture and a shiny white surface, pieces of cheese are broken from the mass and rapidly modeled into a braid using one’s thumb and index finger. This is the moment in which one can really appreciate the skills of the cheese maker.