As hot water was poured into a stainless steel kettle, Rynn Caputo stirred what became a smooth provolone.
Eventually the cheese was ready to be stretched, twisted and kneaded into a length that rivaled the longest jump rope.
"At some point, this becomes a two-person job," said her husband, David Caputo.
While the couple worked, their words and the walls of their 200-year-old farmhouse in Spring Grove told the story of a family that traded a career in the pharmaceutical industry to start a business selling handmade Italian cheeses.
Wine corks create a backsplash in the professional, gourmet kitchen; garlic hangs in bunches beside large windows that face a garden with grape vines; and a few rooms are dedicated to making their artisan cheeses.
"I grew up in an Italian-American family, and everything happened in the kitchen. The living room was barely used," said David Caputo.
The 5,000-square-foot space on Pahagaco Road is home to the Caputo family and the Caputo Brothers Creamery.
The business is named for their sons, Giovanni, 4, and Matteo, 3.
Since they officially launched the business about a year ago, Caputo Brothers has been selling to the largest distributors in New York, Apple Valley Creamery in Spring Grove, The Left Bank in York, Lemon Street in Lancaster, Tastemakers in Lemoyne, Bricco in Harrisburg, Carriage House in Hanover and restaurants in Philadelphia.
Touring Italy: The Caputos also host private chef events in their home and lead tours in Italy.
Their next tour will be April 4-14, and a few seats remain for the trip, which will largely focus on Calabria and Sicily.
"It's our chance to show people the real Italy," David Caputo said.
During past trips, seeing the real Italy meant visiting facilities where several products are made in a traditional, authentic Italian style: culatello (similar to prosciutto), balsamic vinegar, fresh pesto sauce, olive oil, gelato, beer and more.
"We try to bring people to places where artisans are proud of their craft, places off the beaten path," David Caputo said.
They call the vacations "passe giatta," which in Italian means "to stroll."
"In the evening in Italy it's common to see the town's folks go out and take a stroll. That's what we want our tours to be," he said.
The private chef events are equally Italian, including a five-course meal and a tour of the Caputos' cheese-making facility.
Long hours: On Wednesday, the couple worked a long day, stretching cheeses that would become aged provolone.
When asked how many hours the Caputos typically work to build their cheese business, Rynn Caputo jokingly answers, "All of them."
The couple typically works 60 to 76 hours every week.
"The work doesn't stop, so neither do we," David Caputo said.
"But we enjoy what we're doing. Working 76 hours doing something else would be a lot harder," he said.
The Caputos also have help from Rynn Caputo's cousin, David Mosca, and her parents who live in the addition at the property.
The process: To make their cheese, the process begins at Apple Hill Creamery, where the Caputos curdle the milk.
Then, they take the curdled milk to their cheese-making facility. There, they stretch the cheese, using hot water, before it is molded and placed in cool water. Next, it is tied up and hung in an aging room.
The Caputos' process varies, depending on what type of cheese they are making, but they agree the technique is best learned in Italy.
"If you want to know how to make Italian cheeses, you need to study with old-school, master cheese makers in Italy. You can't get it from a book or online," David Caputo said.
The bulk of their ingredients comes from Apple Hill Creamery. From every 200 to 250 gallons of milk, the Caputos can make 270 to 350 pounds of cheese.
"I never thought this was who we were going to be," Rynn Caputo said. "You never know where life is going to take you. It might take you to Italian cheese."
-- Reach Candy Woodall at firstname.lastname@example.org.