Angelo Santabarbara, the cheesemaker cow whisperer

by Antonella Amodio 12/11/19
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Caseificio La Teresina Vacche

The Santabarbara family has run the Caseificio La Teresina cheese factory for over 60 years, an endeavor that begins with raising the livestock and ends with the packaging of the cheese.

The Friesian breed of cows originated in the Frisia region in the northern Netherlands, an area particularly suited for raising dairy cows thanks to the mild climate there that allows for the cultivation of grazing land and, in general, feed grains. One of the traits of cows raised in this area – from an esthetic point of view – is that they have a harmonious and vigorous build, while their production of milk is very high and lasts, in fact, 300 days a year. They also have a capacity to adapt to different climates, which has made them one of the most common cows worldwide.

In Italy, the breed is called Frisona and it produces excellent results thanks to the Mediterranean climate. The Caseificio La Teresina cheese factory in Monte Verna, in the province of Caserta, also known for cultivating Pallagrello wine grapes, has been run by the Santabarbara family since 1958. The cows are free-range raised and eat only fresh grass and selected hays. They are constantly monitored by pedometers attached to their hooves. Angelo and Giovanni Santabarbara, the latest generation to carry on the family cheese-making tradition, have introduced small changes to maintain the highest quality for the final product, while maintaining the principle of handmade craftsmanship.

Production at Caseificio La Teresina aims at quality and remains tightly linked to the territory, transforming their milk into different products like mozzarella, ricotta and their not-to-be-missed stretched cheeses that are true works of art being - the result of a love relationship with the animals, nature and the land – which Angelo himself makes with the help of his parents. The short production process and handed-down methods – including talking to the cow, each of which have been named – together with the habit of milking the cows early in the morning are among the factors behind their success.

One of their more interesting products is Gerarchio, a caciocavallo occhiato made personally by Angelo. It is produced using fresh, raw milk and matures for 120 days on straw in an oxygen-free environment. The long maturing process produces intense summer aromas of lawn grass and floral nuances.

Lingotto is a soft cheese made with slightly fermented and acidic milk in which the delicate sensations of grass and flowers alternate in the flavor with the tart ones of apple. A creamy and pleasing cheese as few can be.

These cheeses can be found in the creations of chefs in star restaurants and are also used as topping for pizzas that tell the true stores of small, uncontaminated places and seek to create an emotional experience.

So let’s hear it for craftsmanship and the new generations who carry on family businesses that represent a great traditional resource for Italy and create jobs even in times of economic crises. Caseificio La Teresina is an authentic example of this.

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