Pecorino Sardo is a product that sums up the history and scents of Sardinia
The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) always guarantees high quality Pecorino Sardo
Among all the typical products of Sardinia, Pecorino Sardo occupies a place of honor. Thanks to its milder flavor than that of Pecorino Romano, this cheese goes well with a large variety of ingredients.
But to be true Pecorino Sardo, it must be made only with whole sheep’s milk from Sardinian farms. The sheep are free to graze in a semi-wild state and to feed on the local herbs and aromatic shrubs. This gives the cheese its typical taste and aroma.
Thanks to the strong link with the Sardinian territory, it obtained the Designation of Origin in 1991 and the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in 1996.
Furthermore, since 1996 the Consortium for the Protection of Pecorino Sardo PDO guarantees high quality standards.
The origins of Pecorino Sardo
Sardinian Pecorino is an ancient cheese linked to sheep farming. Consider that some archaeological finds show that the population of Sardinia was already dedicated to this activity in the Nuragic era. Despite this, it was with the Carthaginians and the Romans that farming became even more massive, thanks to the increase in wheat production.
Yet, the first historical source that anticipate Pecorino Sardo dates back only to the 18th century. In 1787, the Cavaliere Don Giuseppe Cossu, a prominent figure of the time, wrote a speech about “the considerable advantages of the Sardinian sheep“. In the work, he mentioned a few cheeses produced in Sardinia, such as Rosso Fino and Affumicato, which are the predecessors of the current Pecorino Sardo.
The production, from the past to the present
In ancient times, people used to make cheese by putting hot stones in the raw milk. But today things are very different. For example, the production disciplinary of Pecorino Sardo gives producers the possibility of inoculating sheep’s milk with lactic ferments typical of the area. After that, they add calf rennet is let the milk coagulate at a temperature between 35 ° and 39 ° C. It takes about 40 minutes to have a paste which is then broken into small pieces of different sizes depending on the type of Pecorino.
Subsequently, they heat the curd to a temperature not exceeding 43 ° C and place in the typical circular molds. Then, the pressing takes place, allowing the acidification of the cheese and the elimination of the whey. Finally, they salt the cheeses and put them in the aging in rooms, where the temperature (6-12 °) and humidity (about 90%) are constantly under control.
Types of Pecorino Sardo
There are two types:
The aging lasts between 20 and 60 days. Its paste is white, compact but soft, while the rind is also white or slightly yellow, and thin. The taste is delicate, sweet and slightly acidic. It is perfect as a table cheese or as an accompaniment to fresh vegetables or even fruit. Dolce differs from Maturo also for the green label;
Its aging lasts more than 60 days. The paste is white and compact, while the crust is darker and thicker. The taste is intense and slightly spicy. It is ideal at the end of a meal or as a condiment for first courses. Maturo differs from the Dolce also for the blue label.
Be careful not to confuse Pecorino Sardo with Fiore Sardo. The latter is another typical cheese of Sardinia, but unlike the former it is a raw milk cheese and, above all, it is smoked.
How to identify the true Pecorino Sardo PDO
The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) ensures that only the best wheels of Pecorino Sardo are put on the market. In fact, according to the production disciplinary, all the wheels are checked once the aging is complete and before being placed on the market. If they meet the requirements, they are marked with an ink stamp bearing the words “PS DOP” (Pecorino Sardo DOP), a stylized shape of a slice of Pecorino and the identification of the producer.
Furthermore, wrappers indicate the certification by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies.
The nutritional values of Pecorino
In addition to being tasty, this Sardinian cheese has several qualities.
Like all cheeses, it has a high calorie content, mainly in the form of lipids. But it is also rich in Omega3, Omega6 and proteins.
As for vitamins, Pecorino Sardo contains a fair amount of B vitamins, in particular B2, but also vitamin A and PP.
In addition, it is rich in phosphorus, potassium, sodium, calcium and potassium. The latter two favor the mineralization of bones, which makes Pecorino an excellent food for children and the elderly.
An easy recipe to try: malloreddus alla campidanese
Pecorino Sardo is great alone, perhaps together with a nice glass of Cannonau, the best wine of Sardinia, or as an ingredient for some dishes. A recipe to try is the malloreddus alla campidanese.
Malloreddus are the typical Sardinian pasta, prepared with durum wheat flour. They are about 2 cm large and resemble small shells. Thanks to this shape, and to the external streaks, these Sardinian pasta captures any type of sauce.
Here is how to prepare malloreddus alla campidanese:
- Fry some chopped onion;
- Add a previously peeled and coarsely crumbled sausage;
- Cook for 15 minutes and then add the tomato sauce;
- Season with salt and cook for about an hour;
- Boil the malloreddus in abundant salted water;
- Meanwhile, grate some Pecorino Sardo, add some of the cooking water of the pasta and blend until creamy;
- Drain the malloreddus and add them to the sauce;
- Add the Pecorino cream and sauté to mix everything;
- Serve and enjoy!