With the purchase of one of La Dispensa's 2019 cheese products, you get full access to a detailed look behind the scenes of the production process.
Enjoy the impressions and bon appetit!
In early 2019, the Unfold team has accompanied the dairy production of La Dispensa for 7 days: from the 2nd of March until the 9th of March. Every step in their value added chain has been recorded to provide customers with exclusive insights to the dairy production. La Dispensa is committed to our transparency project and shares every single detail of their production with the Unfold team. The product pages of La Dispensa are continuously updated with essential documents for assessing the quality of La Dispensa’s dairy products such as regular analysis of their sheep milk and monthly veterinarian reports about the health conditions of the sheep. Current and past shipments as well as transport conditions are monitored and shared with La Dispensa’s customers.
The Unfold team is constantly improving the credibility and validity of their transparency concept to ultimately reach 100% transparency. Have a look at our news feed to read about upcoming projects and improvements to our transparency concept.
The sheep of La Dispensa are milked twice a day. Every morning and afternoon the sheep are gathered for the milking process at 200 days a year. Not all female sheep are ready to give milk. First, they need to give birth. Only then it is possible to milk the sheep for 6-7 months. Each sheep produces up to 4 litres of fresh milk every day depending on its condition (age, health, etc.) and the thirst of its children throughout the day. At the moment 69 sheep of La Dispensa are able to give milk. After being gathered in different groups depending on the passed time since pregnancy the sheep can enter the milk processing area through a remote-controlled sliding door. A maximum of 12 sheep can be milked with the milking machine of La Dispensa at the same time. On average, a group of 12 sheep is milked within 6-10 minutes.
During the milking process, the sheep are fed with type of food. Every time a new group of sheep enters the milk processing area the food is automatically renewed by the milking machine. When the milking process is finished the milk processing area is cleaned manually and the responsible worker starts the automatic cleaning process for the milking machine. Then the sheep are fed with a special mixture of hay, palette and cereals. The special mixture is freshly prepared in the mixing machine right next to the stable and can automatically be transported in the stable through an electronic conveyor belt. Each day all milk giving sheep are provided with 70-80 kg (ø per sheep and day: 1.086 kg) of the mixture next to the food in the milk processing area and on the wooden barrows in the stable.
Next to the 69 milk giving sheep La Dispensa owns two male sheep and multiple lambs. All sheep are controlled once per month by a veterinarian and the milk is being analysed every 15 days to maintain high quality and take preventive actions when the analysed parameters are not satisfying. After feeding the sheep and cleaning the milking facilities, Giuseppe transports the freshly produced milk with an old APE transport vehicle to the cheese production facilities. Arriving at the cheese production area Giuseppe changes his clothes and fills the freshly produced milk into the refrigerator tank. The temperature is always kept below 4°C in the refrigerator tank and the milk is constantly being stirred to further reduce the risk of corruption. Within a maximum of three days the milk is processed to cheese.
A production cycle of the La Dispensa Caciotta cheese is completed after 18 days. First, the wanted amount of fresh milk (max. 3 days old) gets pumped from the refrigerator tank to the milk and cheese machine. Excess milk is pumped back into the refrigerator tank. Then Giuseppe cleans the pump and the tube, prepares the Inox tables with the special Caciotta Fuscelle and takes the pH value of the milk when it reaches 20-25°C. Then the measurement of the pH-value is more accurate.
When preparations are finished the production process starts. The milk and cheese machine has different production programmes which were adjusted by La Dispensa to produce their cheese varieties. With the help of their external laboratory, La Dispensa further adjusts the production programmes in order to reach the best quality and taste of their dairy products. When producing Caciotta, the milk ist first pasteurized at 72°C. After approximately 2-3 hours lactic acid bacteria is added at 38°C and the initial fermentation process starts. Shortly thereafter vegetarian rennet is added to the mixture depending on the amount of milk used to produce the cheese and the mixtures’ consistency is tested. After the coagulation process the pH-value is obtained by the pH-testing machine and the curd is cut with a special instrument called Lira. Then the curd is further broken by hand using a special tool called Spino.
Subsequently, the curd is separated from the way by releasing the mixture through a tap into the Inox tables where the curd is intercepted by the Caciotta Fuscelle which are used to shape the cheese as wanted. The whey is continuously released through the tap of the inox table and is recovered in a bucket. During the whey recovery process the curd is kept in the Fuscelle covered by a plate. From time to time, the Caciotta cheese is reversed in the Fuscelle to form the cheese.
When the desired pH-value is reached the Caciotta cheese is transfered to the cold room where it rests up to 24 hours before the Caciotta cheese is salted and transfered to the maturity cave. It is important to store the cheese below 15°C to stop the fermentation process after production in order to reach the desired unique taste of Caciotta cheese. After dry salting the Caciotta cheese it is kept in the maturity cave for min. 15 days before the cheese is ready to be sold. The total amount of produced Caciotta cheese normally lies between 19-21% of the used milk. Over time the weight of the cheese decreases due to the natural drying process.
Fifteen days after the production of the unique La Dispensa Caciotta cheese, the cheese is ready for sales. The salt around the cheese is now a solid layer protecting the cheese from mold and other potential harm. Until a buyer has been found, the Caciotta cheese resides in the maturity cave and from time to time the Caciotta cheese has to be brushed in order to remove mold from the outer layer.
When the time has come, the cheese is vacuum packed and prepared for transport. La Dispensa only cooperates with well-known IFS certified food carriers in Europe, who can guarantee an unbroken cold-chain (2-7°C) during the transport to resellers and customers in Europe.
La Dispensa sells their exclusive dairy products directly at their very own shop and restaurant at the production site in Lamporecchio, Italy, as well as at carefully selected delicatessen markets and stores in Europe (e.g. Olives & More in Amsterdam, The Netherlands).
We do hope that our work helps you consume more responsibly. In case you still have any questions regarding the producer or the production process, let us know.
Also, we're more than happy about general feedback on how we are doing.