Pecorino – Italian sheep milk cheese
Pecorino! Even the name seems to contain a piece of Italy! This time it’s not about cheese, but about a whole family of Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. The predecessor of his name was the word pecora, which means “sheep.” As many as 8 varieties of pecorino (Pecorino) classified as DOP. Of course, getting to know your large family is not an easy task.
But to find out the details of the life of its brightest representative, Pecorino Romano, on the contrary, will be extremely interesting.
Varieties of the DOP category In Italy there are a large number of varieties of pecorino. They are produced in 12 regions: Tuscany (Toscana), Abruzzo (Abruzzo), Emilia-Romagna (Emilia Romagna), Umbria (Umbria), Marche (Marche), Lazio (Lazio), Campania (Campania), Apulia (Puglia) , Basilicata (Basilicata), Sardinia (Sardegna), Calabria (Calabria), Sicily (Sicilia). Despite the fact that only 8 varieties have a protected name by origin, however, the rest of the family members are included in the list of “Traditional Italian Products” developed by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Their production is also regulated.
So, what varieties are classified as DOP: Romano Pecorino Romano is a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk, made in Sardinia, in Lazio and in the province of Grosseto. The whole process of processing, starting from breeding cows and even getting rennet, should occur in the manufacturing area. The shape of the heads is cylindrical with flat faces with a diameter of 25-35 cm and a height of 25-40 cm.
Weight can range from 25 to 30 kg. The consistency is dense with a small number of holes, the color is light yellow. The taste is salty, aromatic, spicy, slightly spicy. Toscano Pecorino Toscano (Pecorino Toscano) – semi-hard cheese from the regions of Lazio, Tuscany, Umbria. Heads are cylindrical in shape with flat faces 15-22 cm in diameter, 7-11 cm high. The weight of one head is from 750 g to 3.5 kg. The cheese body is tender, light yellow. The color of the crust depends on its processing and can be either black or reddish.
The taste is soft with a bright aroma. Sardo Pecorino Sardo is the only cheese whose homeland is Sardinia, which falls into the category of products with a protected name. Available in 2 different ripening times: sweet (Dolce) and mature (Maturo). Sweet cheese is aged 20 to 60 days. It has a cylindrical shape with flat faces and slightly convex sides.
Head mass from 1 to 2.3 kg. The crust is smooth, thin, pale straw. The cheese body is soft white. The taste is sweet, aromatic, has a slight acidity. Mature cheese is aged for more than 2 months. Heads weighing from 1.7 to 4 kg are cylindrical. The crust is smooth, the color of the mass from straw to brown (with age it becomes darker). Spicy taste is pronounced. The options differ from each other by the color of the label: green for Dolce and blue for Maturo.
Di Filiano Pecorino di Filiano is a hard cheese made from raw milk in the province of Potenza.
It has a cylindrical shape with slightly convex sides (diameter 15-30 cm, height 8-18 cm). Head weight 2.5-5 kg. The exposure time is at least 180 days. The crust is from golden yellow to dark brown (depending on age), has shallow grooves from the basket in which the cheese ripens. The cheese mass is dense, from white to straw, there are small, unevenly distributed holes.
The taste is sweet, delicate, with more mature cheeses it becomes a little spicy. Crotonese Pecorino Crotonese is a hard, half-cooked sheep’s cheese, originally from the province of Crotone. Currently, it is also produced in the Calabrian provinces of Catanzaro and Cosenza.
Available in three varieties: fresh (Fresco) with an aging of less than 2 months, semi-solid (Semiduro) – from 2 to 3 months, mature (Stagionato) – more than six months. Fresco has a thin crust of white or light yellow. The body is soft, smooth, milky white with a small number of holes. The taste is soft, slightly tart. Semiduro has a thick, pale brown surface. The consistency is elastic with rare holes. The taste is intense, harmonious. Stagionato has a solid brown top.
The body is the color of straw. The taste is intense, spicy. The shape of the crotonese heads is cylindrical with flat sides and a weight of 0.5 to 5 kg. The mass of ripe cheese reaches 10 kg. The height of the cylinders varies from 6 to 20 cm, diameter – from 10 to 30 cm (dimensions depend on the weight of the head). Di Pichinisko Pecorino di Pichinisko (Pecorino di Picinisco) – cheese from raw milk of sheep, made in Lazio.
The heads are produced in the form of cylinders with flat faces 12-25 cm in diameter, 7-12 cm in height, weighing 0.7-2.5 kg. Available in two variations: Scamosciato (literally “Suede”) and Stagionato (seasoned). Scamosciato (maturity 30-60 days) has a thin, wrinkled, straw-yellow crust. The cheese body is resilient with few holes.