Pecorino Siciliano DOP has very ancient origins: Pliny the Elder, between 23 and 79 BC, already included it among the national cheeses in his “Naturalis Historia”. But the birth of Pecorino Siciliano DOP seems to be much older than the encyclopaedia on the natural world by Plinio il Vecchio: the origin of the typical Sicilian cheese, in fact, seems to date back to the time of the arrival of the Greek Sicily, more or less around 735 B.C As evidence of the ancient origin of Pecorino Siciliano, there seem to be also some passages of the “Odyssey” of Homer.
Pecorino Siciliano DOP, also known with the dialectal name of “Picurinu”, comes from whole sheep’s milk thanks to traditional techniques that have remained unchanged over time. The milk to be coagulated must be that of morning or evening milking, collected in a wooden vat together with lamb rennet and / or kid rennet. The curd is broken with a wooden ball and reduced to pieces as big as a grain of rice; hot water (70 °) is then added. Ten minutes after adding the water, the pasta is purged with the hands in the “piddiaturi” and placed in the “fasceddi”, the rattan baskets that give the Pecorino Siciliano DOP its traditional form. After about twenty minutes of settling in the baskets the dough is burned for about 2-3 hours. Subsequently the curd is spread on an inclined plane (board) for one or two days. The forms are turned over several times in the “fascedde” to give the Pecorino Siciliano DOP the characteristic cylinder shape. Salting is done by hand the day after production and after ten days the forms are put to a new treatment. The DOP certification is given to the cheese already in the process of being carved: at the bottom of the basket containing the cheese a mild is placed with the number attributed by the European Community to the authorized producer, and a matrix with the denomination “Pecorino Siciliano DOP”. The Pecorino Siciliano DOP produced in this way weighs between 4 and 12 kg and does not exceed 18 cm in length. The crust of Pecorino Siciliano DOP is yellow and very wrinkled to the touch, due to the marks left by the basket. The cheese paste is white and compact and through the holes you can define the amount of fat present: the greater the oily substance that comes out at the time of cutting, the greater the fat contained and, consequently, the stronger its flavour. When the pecorino is ready, if it passes all the checks required by the European Community, it is branded with the words “Pecorino Siciliano DOP” (Protected Origin). The DOP labelling is assigned only to Sicilian Pecorino aged from 3 to 18 months, but in Sicily this cheese is also excellent fresh.
Ingredients: whole raw sheep’s milk, salt, rennet
Packaging: vacuum or thermoformed bag
Size in Kg: 8
Deadline: 365 days
Maturing: 240 days
Storage temperature: + 4 °
Pasta: firm, slightly glazed
Colour: straw yellow
Smell: intense, fragrant
Taste: spicy, characteristic
Average nutritional values x 100 gr
Energy value Kcal / KJ: 427/1787
Proteins: 28.9 g
Carbohydrates: 2.4 g
Fats: 33.60 g
Calcium: 1162 mg
There is a version of the Sicilian Pecorino of the “pipata”, that is with whole grains of black pepper added at the time of the setting. However tasty this version of the cheese cannot be given the DOP mark. To best preserve the Pecorino Siciliano DOP in the refrigerator it is advisable to place one or two sugar cubes next to the cheese, but not in direct contact, so that the right degree of humidity is always preserved.
The taste of Pecorino Siciliano DOP is the result of delicate balances, which depend on the amount of fat present in the milk used, the feeding of the sheep, the period of production and the different aging time. However, Pecorino Siciliano DOP has a very strong, pleasantly spicy and salty taste that increases in intensity with aging.