In the heart of Tuscany “beats” a cheese that is uniquely “outside the box.” Pecorino Toscano DOP is a soft or semi-hard cheese produced exclusively from sheep’s milk that comes from flocks raised in Tuscany and neighboring areas. Pecorino Toscano DOP has its roots in past centuries and animal husbandry, one of the main activities of the Etruscans and the Romans. Pliny the Elder was the first to write about this ‘cacio’, as it was originally called, and is still called in Tuscany, in his “Naturalis Historia“. According to historical sources this cheese was very popular at banquets of the nobility and was one of Lorenzo the Magnificent’s favourites
Pecorino Toscano is produced exclusively with the milk of sheeps that graze in the area of origin (Tuscany and some neighbouring municipalities in Lazio and Umbria). The sheep, which are Sardinian, Comisana, Apennine and Massese breeds, are milked twice a day. Pecorino Toscano PDO is aged for a minimum of 20 days for the fresh cheese to a minimum of four months for the matured variety. There are two fundamental factors in this delicate final step: the temperature and the humidity of the environment in which the cheese ages.
There are two types of Pecorino Toscano PDO: fresh (fresco) and aged (stagionato).
Fresh Pecorino Toscano has a soft texture and has been aged for a minimum of 20 days (though this is normally extended for up to 45/60 days). It can be recognised by its cylindrical shape and by the inked PDO logo on the rind. It has a thin yellow rind which is uniform, smooth and soft. The cheese is white/pale yellow in colour and has several irregular and well-distributed holes. It has a delicate aroma of butter and hay and the taste is sweet and clean. The cheese is soft to the touch. When chewed it is not stretchy but rather solid without being hard.
Aged Pecorino Toscano is a semi-hard cheese. It must be aged for at least 120 days but may be aged for up to a year. It can be recognised by its cylindrical shape and by the fire branded PDO logo on the rind. It has a thin yellow rind, which is uniform, smooth and compact. The cheese is pale straw yellow in colour and has some irregular and well-distributed holes. It has a distinctive aroma, of dried fruit and hay. These notes can be increased by ripening the cheese for longer.
Pecorino Toscano is often used as an accompaniment to a meal, with the softer version being used alongside starters or cold meats while the mature variant, with its stronger taste, is used primarily as a grating cheese for pasta.
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