Pecorino Toscano DOP
Pecorino Toscano DOP is a soft or semi-hard cheese made of whole sheep’s milk. It comes in two types: fresh or matured.
The former has a yellow crust, with varying hues from yellow to straw-yellow, while the body is white or light straw-coloured. It is soft to the touch and fragrant to the taste, in a word it is “sweet”.
Instead, the matured cheese has a crust with varying hues, from light to deep yellow, although the colour also depends on whether it has been treated with tomatoes, ash or oil, in which case it can appear black or reddish. The body of the cheese is straw-yellow and it is fragrant and intense to the taste, yet never piquant.
The characteristics of Pecorino Toscano DOP depend on both the environmental conditions in which the sheep are bred and the processing and preparation methods.
The key ingredient is, of course, the milk. This must be exclusively sheep’s milk from sheep bred only in the DOP (PDO) area. The sheep belong to either local breeds (primarily a breed called “Massese”) or imported breeds (Comisana or Sardinian).
Tuscan pastures are rich in herbs, which confer particular qualities to the milk. Each area features a unique combination of herbs, which then affect the flavour of the milk.
Unlike other Italian sheep’s milk cheese, Pecorino Toscano DOP is milder and more harmonious.
Instead, compared to cow’s or mixed milk cheese, it has a stronger flavour, different from generic cheese types, such as “cacio” or “caciotta”. Both fresh and matured Pecorino Toscano DOP can be defined with two, almost opposite, characteristics: delicate, yet with temperament.