PIACENTINU ENNESE D.O.P

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Description

“Piacentinu Ennese” is a compact pressed cheese made from whole sheep’s milk, raw with natural acidity from fermentation, produced by the native Sicilian sheep breeds Comisana, Pinzirita, Valle del Belice and their mestizos. The peculiar characteristic of the Piacentinu Ennese consists in the addition of saffron to the milk during the cheesemaking process. Saffron is a crop that shows excellent adaptability to the Sicilian cultivation environment. The environmental conditions typical of the Enna area favour the production of a “quality saffron” as evidenced by the high content of crocin and pyrocine. On the basis of these parameters it was possible to insert Ennese saffron in the 1st and 2nd quality categories and its specific aromatic components make the bouquet of the final product more intense and characteristic.

History

The ancient origin of the dairy activity in the province of Enna linked to the traditional production of sheep’s milk and to the presence of saffron, spontaneous and cultivated plant makes reliable the explanation that the old producers gave to the term “Piacentinu”. According to these direct testimonies the term refers to the pleasantness of the product; pleasantness, in fact, of the not completely spicy taste, also due to the presence of saffron. The origin would therefore be idiomatic; “Piacentinu” from the Sicilian “piacenti” or what you like, and the testimony of its “pleasantness” and its name “Piacentinu” is also given to us by ancient texts such as “The twenty days of agriculture and the pleasures of the villa” of 500 in which reference is made to the systems of salting and adding saffron to give more colour to the cheese; or “La Sicilia walked” by Maja in 1600 and even by an ancient legend that wants Ruggero the Norman, worried about the mental health of his wife Adelasia prostrated by an invincible depression but just as fond of cheese, pray to the dairymen to prepare a cheese with thaumaturgical qualities. This gave rise to the idea of ​​adding a handful of “crocus sativus” to the rennet, known for its stimulating and energizing qualities. The production of this cheese has continued through the centuries to the present day, constituting an undisputed and exclusive historical, cultural and productive heritage of the province of Enna only

Origin

Each phase of the production process is monitored by documenting the inputs and outputs for each one. In this way, and through the registration in special lists, managed by the control structure, of the farms, the cheese makers, the seasoners and packers as well as through the timely declaration, to the control structure, of the quantities produced, the traceability of the product. All the persons, natural or legal, registered in the relative lists, are subject to the control by the control structure, according to the provisions of the production disciplinary and the relative control plan.

Production area

The area of ​​milk production, maturing and packaging of the “Piacentinu ennese” includes the entire territory of the municipalities of Enna, Aidone, Assoro, Barrafranca, Calascibetta, Piazza Armerina, Pietraperzia, Valguarnera, Villarosa of the administrative province of Enna .

Link with the environment

The uniqueness of the Piacentinu Ennese derives, moreover, from the characteristics of the environment in which it is born. The province of Enna, given the scarcity of industrial settlements, represents, in the island context, an uncontaminated green oasis able to enhance the ecological value linked to agricultural and livestock activities. The ovine production system, including the transformation of sheep’s milk, is one of the sectors with the lowest environmental impact. The production area of ​​the Piacentinu Ennese, for its orographic conditions, for the climatic characteristics of sub-continental type (although inserted in a Mediterranean climatic context) determined by the distance from the sea, contribute to the realization of a forage production with peculiar quintessential qualitative characteristics . The production of “Piacentinu Ennese” takes place in an area characterized by brown soils, with a marked forage vocation that have more or less gentle slopes. The soils, located at an altitude between 400 and 800 m asl, show a variable composition since clay, sandy and medium-mixture soils coexist on which predominantly forage essences develop such as the on and the vetch, the local ecotypes of these forage have assumed, over time, characteristics linked to the territory. In the last decade it has been amply demonstrated that every forage essence has a specific aromatic profile determined by substances naturally present in the plant world such as the “terpenes”. These compounds pass unaltered by forage essences in milk and grazing ruminant cheeses, acting as biomarkers. Regarding the Piacentinu Ennese, the presence of a particular terpene has been ascertained in the cheese, the atherponeol which comes from the forage essences typically found in the area of ​​Enna and used in the feeding of dairy sheep. The sheep feeding system consists of natural and / or cultivated pasture, fresh fodder, hay and straw obtained in the production area, wheat stubble and vegetable by-products (prickly pear cladodes, winter pruning olive branches) . The integration with grains of cereals, with legumes and simple or complex NO GMO concentrates is allowed.

Description of the cheesemaking process

Today, Piacentinu Ennese Dop is produced using traditional techniques and utensils with milk from sheep of autochthonous breeds, whose feeding system is based on pastures rich in spontaneous essences and on a small integration in concentrates, leguminous hay and cereals. Saffron (max 5 g per 100 litres) is added to the refrigerated milk coming from one or two successive milkings (that of evening and morning) and then rennet in lamb paste or kid in the measure of 100 g / 100 litres of milk after heating the mass to a temperature of 37-38 ° C. The coagulation process takes place within wooden vats within 40-45 minutes; the right consistency of the clot is evaluated by testing it to the touch and observing the serum that must be clear. Once the active phase of the process has ended, the coagulation is broken, adding, to favour the purging of the curd granules, hot water at a temperature of 75 ° C equal to 20 liters / 100 litres of milk. The rupture proceeds until the curd granules have reached a size comparable to rice grains. With rotary movements, the granules are agglutinated using a specific tool called the “patella” to obtain a mass that is deposited on the bottom of the “tina”. Once separated the serum, the sumously purged caseous mass is extracted, placed on a wooden or steel table top and cut into coarse pieces. The curd, collected in rattan baskets which gives the final shape of the Piacentinu the weave patterns, is compressed directly with the hands and enriched with black peppercorns. The pasta contained in the baskets is placed in a wooden container (tina) and covered with hot sheet for a period ranging from 3 to 4 hours. Once this phase is complete, the dough is left to dry at room temperature for a period of 24 hours. Finally, we proceed to the penultimate phase, that of salting, which according to the production disciplinary must be carried out dry, sprinkling the form uniformly with sea salt, repeating the operation twice at ten-day intervals. The cheese is now ready for the maturation phase lasting about sixty days up to a maximum of six months which takes place in cool, airy rooms using small openings, at an internal temperature of between about 8-10 ° C.

General information

Ingredients: whole raw sheep’s milk, salt, rennet, black pepper, saffron

Packaging: vacuum or thermoformed bag

Size in Kg: 3,5

Deadline: 120 days

Maturing: 60 days

Storage temperature: + 4 °

Product appearance

Shape: round

Pasta: firm, slightly glazed

Crust: wrinkled

Organoleptic characteristics

Colour: bright orange yellow

Smell: saffron, scented

Taste: characteristic, delicate with a light aroma of saffron, savoury,

Average nutritional values ​​x 100 gr

Energy value Kcal / KJ: 350/1465

Proteins: 23.9 g

Carbohydrates: <0.1

Fats: 28.2 g

Calcium: 829 mg

Consumption

The Piacentinu Ennese can be enjoyed as a table cheese accompanied by dried tomatoes, olives in oil and cold cuts or enjoyed at the end of the meal with acacia honey or with citrus jams. The Piacentinu Ennese can also be used as a grating cheese for the preparation of dishes.

 

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