Visit at Busti Dairy
A young guest expresses a wish! See how the mozzarella is made! So let's go to Busti Dairy!
How the idea was born and how to get there
I really think that our guests are our wealth. And when the guests manage to overcome their shyness and ask questions to see their wishes come true, I am fulfilled. These wishes don't have to be very big things, even from the little curiosities we can live very interesting experiences. And remember that the more you ask, the more we are happy!
For example, we received a reservation from a Norwegian family with three children. The oldest, a boy called Theodor, had this curiosity, see how mozzarella cheese is made. Although the mozzarella is not exactly a typical Tuscan cheese (but a Norwegian child may not know it, of course!) I immediately looked for ideas on how to fulfill this small wish and I remembered about the Busti Dairy in Fauglia, near Pisa. I know their products, I know that they are a very valid Tuscan cheese makers.
So I contacted Miss Chiara who very kindly gave me all the information and we booked a visit for a Wednesday. In the morning we left for Acciaiolo di Fauglia. Acciaioli is a small village (about 200 inhabitants) of a small (less than 4000 inhabitants) Municipality, Fauglia, in the province of Pisa, an area that I know very little. To get there I followed the directions of the navigator on the phone (I remind you that I am not a tourist guide, I am not a tour escort, I am simply a curious person who is very happy to go around with my guests to make good experiences). I extended the invitation to all the guests at La Scuola di Furio and another (Danish) family joined us. I brought with me the 8-year-old daughter of a friend. A total of 5 adults and 5 children. It takes just over 40 minutes to reach Acciaiolo. The trip does not present any difficulties and using Google I had no problem arriving to Busti Dairy.
I'm ready for the visit!
Dressing Up and Warnings
At the appointed time we showed up at the (really well supplied!) food shop, we asked for Chiara. We were told to go to the left, open a door, take the elevator and go up to the third floor. Here we found Chiara who was always kind and flawless and who immediately led us to the locker room. Food companies obviously have to follow strict rules of hygiene (Health & Safety rules eveywhere!), so we have been given a kit consisting of hair caps, waterproof knitted overshoes and "rainproof" shirts. As we dressed up in the locker room, Ludovica and I found we were both dressend in blue and yellow. What a lovely coincidence!
At the time of booking Chiara had given us two warnings. The first, to bring a sweatshirt with us because the temperature inside the rooms varies a lot and in some of the rooms it is very cold; the second not to bring strollers around Busti Dairy. Once inside, the buggy ban became immediately clear. The floor is always wet, due to cleaning or due to discharge of residues, so everyone must also walk with caution (my technique is duckwalking :-D ).
Let's start with the Pecorino Cheese
We arrived in the first room where we saw the production of pecorino cheese. Chiara explained that milk (and this is obviously sheep's milk) can not worked as it comes out of the udder, it must be pasteurized, or brought to a temperature of 72 ° C and enzymes should be added.
Here comes the Pistachios!
Once pasteurized, the milk passes into polyvalent (they are large steel pots). Then the lactic ferments and the rennet (a natural coagulant that Busti Diary uses in both powder and liquid form, both animal and vegetable origin) are added. The rennet allows the solidification of the milk, that becomes a sort of jelly-like pudding. After about 20 minutes (the time that the rennet does its job) the cutting process begins. Now it is very easy to see the separation between the white pieces of the curd and the yellow liquid called serum. They are divided using 2 large, wide-meshed combs, that work in an almost hypnotic motion. We were very lucky because we saw the production of a real delicacy, Pecorino Cheese with Pistachios! Almost at the end of this process, two bags of the prestigious Bronte Pistachio were added to the curd.
Click on the photo to see a short video about the production of Pecorino Cheese with Pistachio
These giant pots are located on a raised floor above the floor. To see how the production goes on, we returned to the floor level. The curd mixed with pistachios was then "fired" on two steel tables.
The steel table "opens up" and reveals its treasure, the "fuscelle"
With the aid of a mold, the curd is pushed into plastic buckets, all of which are perforated, called "fuscelle". The workers in charge ensure that all the buckets have more or less the same quantity of cheese. In particular, Chiara explained to us, the molds of the pecorino cheese with pistachios (or other ingredients) must be retouched by hand, so that the pistachios remain as much as possible inside the cheese. This is to avoid that these additions, "popping up" too much from the crust, can act as an intermediary to unwanted external agents.
Click on the photo to see a short video on the production of the fragrant Ricotta Cheese
With skill, speed and with the help of two empty fuscelle, the content is quickly turned upside down and transferred to another plastic shape. All these fiscelle are pitted so the whey is able to run quickly away from the table. But it is not thrown away! The whey is channeled and collected to be then used to make deliciously fragrant ricotta cheese!
The fiscelle are laid on the fir boards
Quickly the fuscelle are removed from the first "table" and laid down hand on these fir wood boards.
The impression I had when visiting this establishment is of the utmost care and hygiene. All workers have adequate protection devices and so I was a bit surprised to see the wood among of all that steel and plastic. From what I know, the European Community loathes the use of materials such as wood in food production. Chiara told me that they are really proud to use these fir wood boards. Wood is alive, it is obviously treated in a way to be used in the food sector but it is perfectly legal, it is used because it gives an even more particular aroma.
The artisan lady takes care of the salting process
Once we have seen the production of the pecorino cheese, we have entered a warehouse where a lady artesan takes care of the salting process of the forms. For an anti-mold disinfectant action and also to give more flavor to the cheese, each form is massaged with salt and then left to rest. It was stunning to see more and more shelves full of delicious cheeses, it was really a pleasant experience!
The Pecorino Marzolino Toscano begins its "transformation"
Here we have also seen how the Marzolino Toscano Pecorino Cheese is made. Pecorino Marzolino Toscano Cheese has this characteristic trapezoidal shape because it comes from two forms that lean one against the other. With time and maturation they both take on this particular form.
Here is Pecorino Marzolino Toscano Cheese ready to leave Dairy Busti
About its color, we will find out later that the 2 forms of pecorino cheese are massaged with tomato concentrate!
How is Mozzarella made?
Click on the photo to see a short video on the processing of the mozzarella dough
One of the things that we will certainly remember more clearly is when we saw mozzarella cheese being made right before our eyes! In a room of Dairy Busti, two very experienced artisans showed us this process! Protected by some very big aprons, they pulled away from a machine a sort kneader, this mozzarella dough. The machine is certainly a great help, but it's human handling that gives it its character!
Click on the photo to see a short video to see a step of the mozzarella making
This conglomerate of dough is worked really with great skill. The dough is placed in a big container, the artisans cool down their arms in fresh water several times because the dough is very hot, about 70 C° degrees. After a while the men (who knows if also women do this physically challenging work?) pull, push and wrap the dough, there is really a need for relief, so they dip their arms into the -a little' fresher- water! I have to say that it was really a memorable experience see where the taste of the mozzarella comes from! From these two "big boys" who move so harmoniously like two ballerinas! We see that they are very close-knit and that they often work together.
Click on the photo to see a short video to see how mozzarella cheese is manipulated
For the children present, it has been funny to see how a "piglet" is made.
Our visit through the cheese factory went on, always with me duckwalking, because the floors are always very wet and so you need to be very careful not to slip (It is me! No one has slipped and no one ever risked slipping during our visit). They took us to the shipping department. After salting, the cheese is transferred to the maturing rooms where, depending on the type of cheese, it will be matured (20, 30, 40 days, etc.) for the time necessary for that type of product. At the end of maturing the cheese is washed to remove the molds and the next day, once dry, is treated with tomato paste (cheese forms that will be red), with fondami of extra virgin olive oil (will appear with brown crust) or will undergo a simple anti-mold treatment with vegetable glue, in this case the product will have a "natural" crust. Washing is a mandatory process.
The Washing of the Cheese
We have also seen this procedure to remove mold. The cheese is "alive", it is not an aseptic food, so it develops molds that are only superficial in this type of cheese. We saw these two artisans who, armed with rough sponges, passed them on the cheese forms.
The cheese forms are accurately washed and brushed
The cheese forms were then further brushed in a tub with a rotating brush and then finished by hand with a kind of brush for the pots! Obviously these are special tools, not the ones that we buy at the supermarket! At all times, each processing block is accompanied by a document indicating the name of the person who has dealt with a certain procedure and when.
Welcome to Cheese Central!
We continued the visit to the storage warehouse and then we also saw where the cheese forms are prepared for transport, packaged and labeled to bring all their taste to their destination.
At the end of the production line, our adventure at Busti Dairy is also over. We went back to the locker room and removed all the plastic protections and we thought about Chiara's advice to wear a sweatshirt. Although at the beginning it was as hot as outside actually in some departments the temperature is really low.
The cutting board with my cheese and sausage tasting
The Tasting at Busti Dairy
As planned, it was the "tasting time" took place for me and my young friend, while the 2 families of guests preferred to eat in the restaurant "Il Rifocillo" on the first floor. We paid 10 euros and 12 euro a cheese platter and a cheese and cold cuts platter respectively and ate on one of the tables in front of the shop, under a porch. The subject of the production of cured meats (like the excellent mortadella from Prato) was not touched during the visit so I do not know much about it. I can say that the bread was very good, the cheese was delicious and the portions really very generous, so much so that my friend and I -we both like eating- were not able to finish all this delicacies. So we packed and took home the leftovers!
The bill was very congruous!
The visit to Busti Dairy has been a truly enjoyable experience also and above all instructive for children who must know that the food is not born in the fridge of the house and not even in the supermarket fridge but there is the WORK of the man behind the food and it is also fair to see how so many people are proud to work on producing these excellent cheeses
Of course for all this I can only thank our young friend Theodor from Norway again and invite all our other guests, young and old, who have great or small curiosity to TALK, to share it with me and to let us participate, so that the answer to this curiosity can become a formative experience, even for me. I admit it, I'm interested in the first person, I do it for you but I also do it for me because food and art are interesting topics for me. So thanks Theodor!
And you? What can you tell me? Which are your curiosities? Write me your ideas and curiosities, I'll see what I can do!