PECORINO TOSCANO DOP
A bit of history….
The unique and delicate flavor of Pecorino Toscano DOP is the result of the perfect equation between nature, the environment and the respect and enhancement of the ancient dairy tradition.
This type of cheese is recognized throughout the world, and has its origins in antiquity: in fact, it has its roots in history and in the deep bond created in Tuscany between the environment, sheep and shepherds.
In fact, in this particular region, sheep farming, one of the oldest forms of farming and enhancement of the territory, has centuries-old roots that can be converted into a dairy tradition that is handed down from generation to generation, with passion and respect for its origins, and without ever losing its quality.
In confirmation of the fact that pecorino DOP is considered one of the leading cheeses among Italian excellences, numerous manuscripts and historical texts demonstrate this: according to historical resources, in fact, this cheese was very popular in the banquets of the Tuscan high nobility, and was none other than one of the favorite cheeses of the illustrious Lorenzo the Magnificent, historical lord of Florence.
But the list of illustrious personalities linked to pecorino does not end here: in fact, Pliny the Elder, the famous Roman governor, in his monumental work Naturalis historia, mentions in some passages the production of Pecorino in Tuscany.
Another fascinating anecdote connected to the Tuscan Pecorino DOP dates back to the thirteenth century and concerns none other than Giotto, one of the most illustrious and important Italian artists of all time, the architect of the masterful bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, known by all as Giotto's bell tower. Legend has it that Giotto, in his youth, was in Mugello, a historic area of Tuscany, intent on looking after a flock of sheep, when he was surprised by Cimabue while he was trying to portray animals on a rock. Cimabue, having recognized his immediate skill, took him to his workshop to introduce him to the profession, which today consecrates him among the most brilliant artists of all time. It can therefore be said that even the youth of the great Tuscan artist was in some way linked to the Tuscan tradition of pecorino DOP.
This type of cheese was once called cacio marzolino precisely because its production began in March and it is with this name that we find it mentioned in a memoir on Tuscan cheese composed by Francesco Molinelli towards the end of the eighteenth century.
This historical preamble serves to underline the cultural and social value that Pecorino Toscano PDO has had over the centuries, and makes us understand how today, exactly as in the past, Pecorino Toscano PDO is one of the symbols of the greatest prominent of the tradition of this wonderful region. It is in Tuscany, in fact, that the milk is milked, transformed into cheese and left to mature.
THE LAND OF ORIGIN
In this magical region, there is a profound link between history, territory and tradition. These three elements are still today the foundations on which the foundations of Tuscan sheep farming and the art of making cheese are built, always with an eye towards the dairy traditions of the past, but at the same time always looking to the future and to the technological innovation. Sheep farming and sheep farming have long been a crucial resource of Tuscany, and the new generations know this, and they do not want to forget the customs that have made Tuscan pecorino DOP what we know and still appreciate today.
It is right here, in the Tuscan countryside, that for centuries the shepherds brought their flocks from the Apennines during the winter, along the routes of transhumance.
The flavor notes of Pecorino Toscano DOP, unique in their kind, reflect the ancient tradition of the Etruscan land, a tradition that has endured over time and which, too, remains closely linked to the geographical area in which it was born.
In fact, this very close link with its geographical latitude and longitude is of fundamental importance in defining the uniqueness of Pecorino Toscano PDO. The characteristics of the land where the sheep graze will subsequently be able to give their milk that sweet, delicate and balanced taste that makes Pecorino Toscano PDO unique: a true 'out of the flock' cheese.
Among the characteristics of the Pecorino Toscano DOP stands out that of its soft, straw-white colored paste. On the palate it releases all the aroma of fresh milk, and recalls the scents of the enchanting Tuscan countryside, bucolic places where the flocks are free to graze. This too is an extremely important aspect in the production chain of this fine cheese.
The connotations of this cheese, however, vary according to the type of maturation, giving different nuances to its essence.
The curing times of pecorino vary in turn according to their area of origin, and therefore its flavors also change considerably: let's discover them together.
FRESH PECORINO TOSCANO DOP
Fresh Pecorino Toscano DOP is the classic sheep's cheese with a mainly soft texture, produced with pasteurized sheep's milk, with the addition of selected native enzymes, rennet and salt. The minimum maturing period for this cheese is 20 days, as established by the Production Regulations. It is generally consumed after about 30-45 days and its sweet and delicate flavor evokes the scent of the pastures of the Maremma and Tuscany. Among all, the fresh pecorino DOP is certainly the one characterized by a sweeter and more delicate taste.
SEASONED PECORINO TOSCANO DOP
Aged Pecorino Toscano DOP is recognized instead by the DOP brand on fire, and by its minimum seasoning, which in this house is much longer: in fact we are talking about 120 days. Its paste, characterized by a slightly straw color, has a small hole. Its flavor is intense and, unlike fresh pecorino DOP, it is slightly spicy. It is an excellent cheese both for table consumption and as grated cheese, and it is also an excellent ingredient for giving character to traditional Tuscan and Italian dishes. This type of cheese, compared to the previous one, is certainly characterized by a stronger and more pronounced flavor.
PECORINO TOSCANO DOP AGED 12 MONTHS
The Pecorino Toscano DOP Aged 12 months, is undoubtedly the one with the most decisive flavor, and can be called this after at least four months of aging. With a guaranteed minimum maturation of 12 months, the cheese will take on its decisive character which, thanks to the effect of the passage of time, will be able to express in the best possible way all the fragrances and its typical aromas, precisely those that made it so important nationally and beyond. The pecorino aged for a long time, given the hardness of its pasta and the strong flavor, is traditionally combined with sweets, honey and jams.
THE PRODUCTION RULES
The production rules of pecorino DOP are extremely strict, aimed at guaranteeing the excellence that made it so important at the gastronomic level: these rules, established by the European Union, require that the product be stored in warm and humid environments (hot chambers heated cabinets or chests) where a rapid purge of the whey can be favored and consequently, the start of its maturation in the best possible way. The following phase is dry salting, considered the most traditional one, or in brine.
The peculiarity of the Pecorino Toscano DOP is the decidedly short duration of this salting phase, which lasts about one day only. After salting, the Pecorino Toscano DOP is left to mature in suitable rooms and here it will be periodically turned and checked by highly qualified employees. Only the forms that meet all the characteristics provided for in the specification will be marked one by one, with ink those with a soft texture, while the cured ones will be heat marked. The brand features the name Pecorino Toscano DOP, the image provided on the brand and the identification number of the producer, thus guaranteeing its uniqueness. The name Tuscan pecorino DOP or Tuscan pecorino DOP seasoned must also be present on the label, accompanied by the European logo symbolizing the protected designation of origin, in addition to the Tuscan pecorino logo. From the breeding of the sheep to the milking, passing from the production to the maturing, everything must therefore take place according to the very strict indications established by the Production Regulations of Pecorino Toscano DOP, in the area of origin. The different climatic conditions and the dairy traditions of each territory give Pecorino Toscano DOP variety and nuances of tastes and aromas, prompting many tasters, tourists and enthusiasts of the sector to broaden their knowledge in the sector.
Of no less importance in contributing to the unique flavor of Pecorino Toscano DOP is our milk, exclusively from sheep and produced from flocks raised in the area delimited by the prestigious Protected Designation of Origin. The sheep are grazed, extensively and with the utmost respect, on soils rich in herbs and essences that give the cheese its unique flavor. Pecorino Toscano PDO sheep are fed with high percentages of green forage, rich in elements that give the milk a greater presence of vitamins and nutrients. Unlike other Italian cheeses made from sheep's milk, Pecorino Toscano has a milder and more harmonious flavor. Instead, when compared with cheeses made with cow's or mixed milk, it gives the palate a more decisive taste, but without ever exceeding.
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