Ragusano is an ancient cheese made in the Sicilian countryside where they still use age-old techniques and traditional wood and copper tools. The hand-made cheese begins with fresh, whole, raw milk and natural rennet put in the "tina" (traditional wooden tub for curdling milk).
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After the milk sets, the curd is broken with a forked wooden stick (a "ruotula"), then gently cooked with warm water, drained, and gently pressed. The whey is saved for making ricotta later that day. After a few hours, the curd is cooked again in warm water or whey, then removed and allowed to rest in the traditional wooden "mastredda" for at least 20 hours. When matured, Ragusano is cut into long strips, cooked in hot water, and mixed in the wooden "staccio." Using a wooden club called the "manuvedda", the cheesemaker stretches and kneads the curd to create a smooth oval ball, returns it to the mastredda, and forms it into the characteristic shape of Ragusano. A day later, the cheese is immersed in brine for about 15 days then hung in pairs by hand-made cords ("liame") in the cool, fresh "maizze" where they remain up to two years. Made exclusively from Modicana cow's milk, Ragusano has a soft, compact, savory, slightly yellowish color with a thin, pale yellow rind. As it ages, Ragusano takes on a more piquant and aggressive taste.