ITUTI~The Traditional Milk Product of Ethiopia

During the traditional production of ituti, fresh milk is collected into a well-smoked fermented vessel, called gorfa. Gorfa is woven from fibers of selected plants into a lidded container with a capacity up to three liters.

I shall try in this series to write about the traditional milk products from the different parts of the world, especially from the traditional livestock breeds. As a first piece of information, I introduce you with the Ituti, a fermented camel product from Ethiopia.

ITUTI

It is a staple food, white color, and a very solid appearance that resembles that of traditional white cheese. It has attractive texture and flavor and has a reasonable shelf life at ambient temperature, making it one of the most desired food in the region. Ititu consumed as a side dish with traditional porridge or thin-baked cereal chips. It can also be consumed as food or drink alone. It is considered as one of the special foods and served to many respected guests as well as to weaning-age children and the elderly.

During the traditional production of ituti, fresh milk is collected into a well-smoked fermented vessel, called gorfa. Gorfa is woven from fibers of selected plants into a lidded container with a capacity up to three liters. A new gorfa is washed with hot water, air-dried; and just prior to use it is rinsed with fresh milk and then smoked for a few minutes with pieces of burning Acacia nilotica (or other plants) placed inside. The lid of gorfa is treated with leaves of Ocimum basilicum for cleaning and imparting desirable flavor to the product. A small volume of milk (up to 300 ml) is added to the gorfa and is allowed to ferment naturally.

Gorfa, the milk container in Africa.

When the milk coagulates, whey is removed daily by a wooden pipette after which an additional volume of fresh milk is added. The process of whey removal and addition of fresh milk is repeated several times until the product is concentrated enough and is ready for consumption. The curd and the lids are occasionally checked visually for mold and any mold growth on the surface of the curd is removed. The lid is also washed with hot water and smoke is applied to it before replacing it.

If the product is stored for a long time without refrigeration this can lead to over-souring and risk of spoilage, due to the high growth of surface mold. This can be controlled by adding an amount of roasted Trigonella foenumgraceum powder that is pre-mixed with fresh raw milk and/or melted ghee, prior to serving.

The milk is allowed to ferment for a long time of up to 14 days and can be stored from about two months to three months.” Very delicious and healthy products compensate for the food shortage in difficult times of the year.