Modern large-scale ricotta production is now carried out with a completely innovative system marked by product standardization together with reduction of the contamination risks present in the old production methods and also directed towards a reduction in process times and costs.
In fact, ricotta production takes place in coagulation tanks, which are closed vessels with steam injection for heating, that guarantee the sterility and hygiene of the product and are also sanitizable through an autonomous washing system consisting of a small tank with pump that also has other uses that will be explained later.
The ricotta obtained is emptied into a special draining trolley that allows all the product to be kept at high temperatures thanks to a compartment underneath that holds a quantity of spent whey at high temperature (process residue).
Transfer of the product to the homogenizing machine takes place, again at high temperature, through a transfer pump.
The homogenizing treatment inside the machine enables prevention of whey separation, and consequently souring of the whey, and therefore of the ricotta, which makes it possible to package the product at high temperatures in order to exclude every form of bacterial load to achieve a long life ricotta without addition of preservatives.
At the end of the treatments described above, as we have said, the product is sent to the required type of packaging and then to the chill rooms ready for sale.
The process will therefore be divided into the following stages:
- Transfer of fatty whey from a storage tank to the first coagulation tank; the whey will be neutralized and stabilized during this stage.
- Heating of the whey by steam injection. When the required technological temperatures have been reached, milk or cream or a mixture of both may be injected into the whey during this stage.
- Surfacing of the ricotta after injection of an acidifying solution.
- Filling of the second coagulation tank with pre-heated whey; heat recovery via the plate heat exchanger.
- Transfer by gravity of the ricotta into the draining trolley/tank.
- Transfer of the ricotta from the draining tank to the homogenizing machine.
- Homogenization of the ricotta.
- Transfer of the homogenized ricotta to the semiautomatic packaging machine.