The history and the relationship with the territory of origin
Ricotta di Bufala Campana, as well as the other ricottas obtained from the whey of other animal species, has the particularity that derives in large part from a raw material, whey, which in turn is the by-product resulting from the cheese making of milk.
Its relationship with the geographical territory of origin is in fact mediated and borrowed from the relationship that milk has with the animals and the territory in which it was obtained.
The history of the relationship of Ricotta di Bufala Campana with the territory of origin is therefore in fact the history of the relationship with the territory of the milk with which Mozzarella di Bufala Campana was produced, from which whey originates Ricotta.
The relationship between Ricotta di Bufala Campana and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana (MBC) is very close, as well as the literature of the past testifies: all those elements that prove the link of the MBC with its territory of origin in fact transpose to Ricotta di Bufala Campana.
The tradition of the production of Ricotta di Bufala Campana derives instead from its own history and follows, as for all products, a technical evolution that tries to keep it up to date with the progress of technology, of dietary behaviours and the socio-economic modifications typical of each historical period.
The relationship with the territory of origin
The tradition of the production of “MOZZARELLA DI BUFALA CAMPANA” dates back to at least 1300 and tells of a very close link with the production of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana and then the arrival of the buffalo in the center-south of Italy.
Guadagno, professor at the University of Salerno, has produced an important historiographical research accompanied by an extensive bibliography entitled “HISTORICAL MEMORY AND GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION” on the introduction of the buffalo in Campania and the transformation of its milk. Guadagno recalls how the local buffalo, descended from the Indian buffalo, arrived in Italy in the eighth century in the wake of the barbarian hordes, which in the Balkan areas had inserted it in their economy; this penetration is historically ascertained and dated (Paolo Diacono, Historia Longobardorum (ed. Waitz), in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum longobardicarum et italicarum saec.VI-IX, (Hannover 1878), IV, 10). The buffalos in their penetration on the national soil have met better environmental conditions responding to their habitat in the south. Between the X and XI century the phenomenon of swamping developed in the areas between Mondragone and Volturno (Guadagno G., L’ager Falernus in Roman times, in AA. VV., Storia Economia ed Architettura nell’ager Falernus Atti delle giornate di studio Falciano del Massico February-March 1986 pag 37 edited by G. Guadagno, Minturno 1987) and the buffalo found a suitable habitat and the buffalo milk replaced the cow’s milk in the preparation of that laudatissimum caseum of Campo Cedicio, a cheese already mentioned by Plinio the Elder (Plinio, Naturalis Historia, XI 241). The oldest testimonies (early twelfth century) mention the presence of buffaloes in the economic context of the Abbey of Farfa (Cantù M. C., The buffalo in Italy from the early Middle Ages to today, p. 33. Unione Agricoltori Varese, 1989 ). In the thirteenth century the spread of the buffalo is documented in Capitanata (Fiorentino, Montecorvino, Foggia and Lucera), in Salernitano, Sicily and Pontine plagues (Cantù M. C., l. c., p. 42; Faraglia M., History of prices in Naples from 1131 to 1860, (Naples 1878) Catalogue of the Exhibition by M. S. Calò Mariani, II/l,( Galatina 1981), p.75. Carucci C., Codice diplomatico Salerinitano del Secolo XIV (Salerno 1950) I pp. 72; 436; II 449; 462; 481; 483) as well as in other areas of Italy. However, only towards the end of the ‘300 an Anonymous Tuscan in his “Cookbook” talks about the use of buffalo milk to produce a generic “…. buffalo farm…. which is tender and fat…” and once placed on the spit to the fire (Anonymous Tuscan of the fourteenth century, Libro della cocina, in The art of cooking in Italy by Emilio Faccioli, (Turin 1987), p. 66). One of the first citations of Ricotta, associated with Mozzarella and other dairy products is made in a cookbook published in 1570 by Bartolomeo Scappi chef of the Papal Court where specialties from all over Italy and Europe “…head of milk, fresh butiro, ricotta flower, fresh mozzarella and milk snow…” (Scappi B., Opera, (Venice 1570), c. 275r.). The term fresh mozzarella is used because at the time buffalo milk were also produced provole, cheeses for longer storage, as they seem to suggest in the contracts for the procurement of the product of the “Reale Industria della pagliara delle bufale” in Carditello where it was established that the mozzarella should remain in the sauce 24 hours, while the provola 48 (Archive of the Royal Palace of Caserta, Series “Carditello e Calvi”, fasc. 675: Counts of the Royal buffalo and Coal from the first gennaro to April 1790, c. 506.).
Archive documents dating back to the seventeenth century confirming what is reported by Scappi show that alongside the typical products of the buffalo dairy on the market capuano influx provole and smoked mozzarella and ricotta cheese and buffalo salted and smoked (Biblioteca del Museo Campano di Capua, “Archivio Storico di Capua”, fasc. 159: Libro delle Assise della città di Capua, passim.). So far the historiographical reconstruction of Prof. Guadagno.
The relationship with the productive tradition
More detailed and direct information about Ricotta di Bufala Campana can be found starting from the mid 1800’s. In 1859 Achille Bruni, Professor of the Royal University of Naples, in his monograph “Del latte e dei suoi derivati” published in the New Agrarian Encyclopedia, described in summary how Ricotta di Bufala was then produced: “After milking the milk and pouring it into the vat, put the kid’s rennet in it; and after having congealed with the wooden spatula it is cut into large pieces. Then, with a wooden dickuliera, the whey is removed and boiled to obtain the ricotta.” At the National Dairy Exhibition held in Portici in 1877 (Annali di Agricoltura 1879 n somebody. 20 of the Directorate of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture Industry and Commerce) together with several specialties of Mozzarella di Bufala produced in the province of Naples are also presented some Ricotta, including the Ricotta in “towel” so defined because it is presented wrapped in a towel and Ricotta with fruits . Santojanni in 1911 in his “Notes on the buffalo milk dairy” further confirms the historical and technological link between the production of Mozzarella and Ricotta di Bufala, also specifying that “the ricotta that you have with the heating of whey is called fior di ricotta. After this, the serum is added a little acid serum, and you have other ricotta less delicious than the previous because it is lower in fat“.
The strong link with the territory and its changes resulting from the reclamation operations have influenced over the years the changing fortunes of buffalo farming and with them the production of milk and then of MBC and Ricotta di Bufala.
Perhaps, also for the lesser attention that has always aroused Ricotta especially at the level of statistical investigation being often incorporated generically in fresh products, despite its production in the Campania area is documented for some time, Ricotta di Bufala is not mentioned among milk products listed in the General Census of Agriculture of 1937.
Savini in his study on Ricotta in 1950 also cites the Ricotta di Bufala: “in the Roman and Caserta countryside, where there is a buffalo dairy, the residual whey is also used for the preparation of ricotta. However, this is not put on the market, but was used by the peasants and the workers of the various companies. The taste of this ricotta is pleasant when it is very fresh, but less than that of sheep’s ricotta and how this changes quickly and easily”. Savini’s few words, however, document the lack of attention paid to a product of little commercial weight at the time, but nevertheless well present in the consumption of local populations. We need to get to 1983 with the work of Mincione et al and Addeo and Coppola to find a specific attention to the way to produce the Ricotta di Bufala and its composition.