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The fantastic story of Sardinian pecorino cheese

The fantastic story of Sardinian pecorino cheese

Sardinia, an ancient land that still today, thanks to its good fortune of being very attached to its history, firmly carries on the ancient traditions of sheep farming, also dedicating itself to the art of cheese making, the production of Pecorino, a cheese much loved by Sardinians and Italians but also much sought after by gourmands from all over the world.

An island in the middle of the sea with a unique gastronomic richness

When we talk about the history of Sardinian pecorino cheese, we are talking about the Nuragic people, i.e. the first settlements dating back to the Bronze Age - therefore very ancient - who were already settled at that time and lived off agriculture and sheep farming. From the early Middle Ages to the 18th century, Sardinia experienced a great rise in agriculture, thanks to the large production of grain that fed most of the peninsula. On the steep plateaus, however, there was at the same time a dense pastoral activity, linked to the seasons and the rearing of livestock, sheep and goats, useful as sustenance for the production of cheese and meat. Just think that in the eighteenth century, historical records show that Sardinian sheep's cheese production was divided into different types called Whites, Thin Reds, Smoked, Fresa and Spiatatu. Among these, Thin Red and Smoked varieties can be considered the ancestors of Sardinian Pecorino cheese, are still part of the cheese-making tradition and are protected by the PDO mark.



Milk and PDO

The famous grass feed designation used in recent years for open-air livestock farming is a fundamental historical basis for Sardinia. The sheep feed on the Sardinian plateaus, natural heritages rich in aromatic herbs and meadows where they graze the grass peacefully. The milk that is produced recalls all the natural scents of these expanses. The PDO denomination of Sardinian Pecorino cheese is closely linked to this type of breeding, in fact, the Denomination of Origin was granted in 1991 with the Prime Ministerial Decree of 4.11.91 and in 1996, with the Regulation (EC) No. 1263/96 of 1.07.1996 the Community recognition of PDO - Denomination of Protected Origin - was granted to this cheese, thus becoming one of the most typical and representative cheeses of the dairy scene in Sardinia.



Freshly milked milk is delivered to the dairy. In order to obtain the PDO, the production regulations require that the whole sheep's milk be pasteurised and inoculated with native lacto-ferments. The subsequent coagulation of the whey with rennet takes place at a temperature between 35° and 39° C. The curd is then broken until it reaches granules. For the type of pecorino cheese suitable to become "sweet" the breaking of the curd takes place in the formation of grains as big as a hazelnut, while the breaking is called "corn grain" for the production of a seasoned pecorino cheese. The curd is then cooked at a temperature no higher than 43°C and then placed in circular moulds. This very fresh cheese is then pressed at a temperature and for a period of time such that the whey is released. Once this stage of processing is complete, the cheese is salted - either dry or wet - depending on the type. This is followed by the maturing and refining phase in premises where humidity and temperature are controlled on a daily basis. This is how Dolce and Maturo are born... but there is also the famous  Fiore Sardo, lightly smoked according to the ancient tradition of the shepherds.



Variations on a theme

Each cheese factory has its own cheese-maker, that is why there are so many different types of pecorino cheese: classic and of different ages, but also flavoured with herbs, chilli pepper, truffles, saffron or wrapped in walnut leaves. But to find the historical and traditional ones, we must turn to the Presidiums, rediscovered by the Slow Food association, which safeguards "endangered" gastronomy. So take note of these gems belonging to Sardinia's dairy heritage:

  • Fresa of Ittiri, produced in the Logudoro area, between Sassari and Alghero, takes its name from fresus , or flattened. This ancient pecorino cheese with its lower shape has a history as old as the ancient Romans!
  • Pecorino cheese of Alta Baronia is produced in the north-eastern part of Sardinia, where sheeps graze freely among the strawberry and mastic trees. This cheese is aged for two months or more.
  • Axridda of Escalaplano is a unique pecorino cheese! It is produced in the village of the same name, in the Flumendosa valley and it is special because it is covered in clay during its refinement.
  • The Pecorino of Osilo, small and light, is pressed more than the traditional pecorino cheese produced in Sardinia and its optimal maturation requires only 5-6 months of rest before tasting it in all its goodness.

Sardinia: where matches are made in heaven.

And of course, like any self-respecting good cheese, Pecorino Sardo finds its best match in gastronomic products and local recipes, from appetizers to desserts.

In its simplicity, it can be enjoyed with crunchy Carasau or tasty Guttiau bread, or it can be accompanied by a drizzle of olive oil or Sardinian olives, which balance the savouriness of the cheese paste and evoke those vegetable scents of grass and pastures. Much more refined is the combination with honey or with broad beans, eaten raw and peeled or mashed to become a tasty puree.

With first courses, it is the essential finishing touch just before serving a plate of malloreddus, ravioli or soups. But it also becomes a delicious filling for pasta and flans.

In desserts we find it fresh, young, not yet matured, in the filling of seadas and in sweets with the addition of fresh citrus peels from the Mediterranean vegetation.

La selezione di pecorino di Janas Food



DUCA – Pecorino stagionato

Formaggio pecorino a lunga stagionatura, prodotto esclusivamente con latte sardo proveniente da filiera cortissima. Il suo sapore intenso e leggermente piccante, lo rende un prodotto unico e eccezionale. Perfetto grattugiato sui primi piatti caldi o reso protagonista di speciali taglieri a base di salumi e delizie di terra.

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MARCHESE – Pecorino semi stagionato

Prodotto esclusivamente con latte proveniente da filiera cortissima. Dal gusto saporito e leggermente piccante, è perfetto per coloro che ricercano il giusto equilibrio tra intensità e delicatezza. Questo formaggio sardo infatti, si distingue per il suo carattere deciso e saporito e al contempo piacevole e delicato. Perfetto su piatti freddi, per fusione se usato fresco, oppure come ingrediente di uno stuzzicante antipasto a base di specialità sarde.

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Una delle eccellenze Sarde più rinomate e riconosciute al mondo è questo spettacolare pecorino a pasta cruda vanta il prestigioso riconoscimento di Presidio Slow Food. Un prodotto biologico di alta qualità dal sapore deciso e leggermente piccante realizzato solo con latte di pecora di razza Sarda. Un tesoro della tradizione casearia isolana apprezzata dai palati di tutto il mondo.

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