Pecorino Toscano PDO
Liquid calf rennet is added to raw or pasteurized whole sheep’s milk, and kept at a temperature of 33-38° C to foster coagulation, At this stage, if soft pecorino is to be obtained, the curd is broken up into particles the size of hazelnuts whereas the curd is broken up into much smaller lumps for semi-hard Pecorino and, if necessary, cooked. After breaking up the curd, the paste is placed into moulds to drain away the whey, pressed by hand or steam-dried for a period that can vary from 30 minutes to over 3 hours. Salting is dry or in a brine bath, staying there for at least 8 hours for soft pecorino and 12 hours for semi-hard pecorino. The last stage of ageing also differs for the two types of cheese: the soft paste type has to stay in special cells, at a temperature of 5/12° C and a humidity of 75/90%, for at least 20 days, the semi-hard paste for a period of not less than 4 months.
Fresh Tuscan Pecorino DOP is characterized by a soft white paste, with a mildly fragrant flavour, whereas the aged type has a semi-hard paste, straw yellow in colour and with a definitely more intense flavour. The rind, usually yellow, may become black or reddish depending on the use of oil, ash or tomato puree. In general, it is a delicate product, different from all other sheep’s cheeses which are generally strong in flavour, tending to be salty and sharp.
As is traditional, the best and almost perfect association is with unsalted Tuscan bread.