Pecorino Romano P.D.O.
 
History
History

The production of Pecorino Romano boasts ancient origins. The region around Rome is most probably the birthplace of the first prototypes of Pecorino Romano. A production technique substantially similar to the current one was already referenced by many scholars from Ancient Rome such as Varro, Galen, Virgil and Pliny the Elder. Thanks to the skills of the cheese makers, the art of its manufacture has not been lost and has been handed down and rendered compatible with the modern food technologies of the dairy industry. Even though the region around Rome has been considered the birthplace of the Pecorino Romano since the end of 19th century, Sardinia is today the main production hub. The Island has long been known for its thousand years cheese-making tradition. Transformation and maturing centers emerged (the so-called “caselli“) all throughout the island and you can still visit some of them today, which remain intact. In the past, the entire cheese production was exported to North and South America, where there were strong and big communities of Italians. The cheese-making industry fits in perfectly with the Sardinian reality, promoting in the best way possible two of its distinctive resources: natural pastures and the indigenous Sarda sheep. And it is also the first model of successful industrial development on the island.

 
 

Pecorino Romano P.D.O. is a hard cheese made with 100% fresh full-fat sheep’s milk obtained straight from the source, from sheep farms comprised of 95% Sarda sheep breed. All herds are bred in a geographical production area limited to the regions of Sardinia, Lazio and the Grosseto province in Tuscany. The crust is thin with a light ivory or straw-yellow color. The cheese is compact and the color varies between white and a more or less intense straw-yellow color. The taste is aromatic, slightly sharp for the table cheese, intensely sharp for the grating cheese. Pecorino Romano P.D.O. cheese wheels are cylindrical and their weight varies between 20 and 35 kg. Each wheel is branded with the mark of origin, the initials of the cheese maker and the date of production. Pecorino Romano P.D.O. can only be placed on the market after a maturation of at least 5 months for the table cheese category, and 8 months for the grating cheese one. The production of Pecorino Romano is the result of centuries of experience. The main steps of the process are still carried out to this day by hand. Once extracted, the sheep’s milk is transferred to a cheese factory where it is measured, filtered and processed raw or thermized at a temperature that must not exceed 68°C for up to 15″. The milk is then poured into curdling vats with an added ferment, called scotta innesto [starter culture], containing a mixture of autochthonous thermophilic lactic acid bacteria that is prepared daily according to a methodology that has been passed down through the centuries. The milk is then curdled at a temperature of approximately 40°C using a lamb rennet paste that is derived from animals on farms located exclusively in the same area of production. Once the curd has reached optimal consistency, the cheese maker breaks it up into small pieces the size of kernels of corn. The curd is then cooked at 45-48°C, divided into blocks and placed in pressing forms in a hot and humid environment, which is ideal for the discharge of whey. After cooling, the cheese is formed by using imprinting belts that create marks across the heel conveying:

  • the designation and its logo (the stylized head of a sheep inside a diamond shape),
  • the code of the cheese maker,
  • the month and year of production.

The salting process, also using ancient and complex traditional techniques, can occur when the cheese is either partially or totally dry.

Production
Production
Production

Pecorino Romano P.D.O. is a hard cheese made with 100% fresh full-fat sheep’s milk obtained straight from the source, from sheep farms comprised of 95% Sarda sheep breed. All herds are bred in a geographical production area limited to the regions of Sardinia, Lazio and the Grosseto province in Tuscany. The crust is thin with a light ivory or straw-yellow color. The cheese is compact and the color varies between white and a more or less intense straw-yellow color. The taste is aromatic, slightly sharp for the table cheese, intensely sharp for the grating cheese. Pecorino Romano P.D.O. cheese wheels are cylindrical and their weight varies between 20 and 35 kg. Each wheel is branded with the mark of origin, the initials of the cheese maker and the date of production. Pecorino Romano P.D.O. can only be placed on the market after a maturation of at least 5 months for the table cheese category, and 8 months for the grating cheese one. The production of Pecorino Romano is the result of centuries of experience. The main steps of the process are still carried out to this day by hand. Once extracted, the sheep’s milk is transferred to a cheese factory where it is measured, filtered and processed raw or thermized at a temperature that must not exceed 68°C for up to 15″. The milk is then poured into curdling vats with an added ferment, called scotta innesto [starter culture], containing a mixture of autochthonous thermophilic lactic acid bacteria that is prepared daily according to a methodology that has been passed down through the centuries. The milk is then curdled at a temperature of approximately 40°C using a lamb rennet paste that is derived from animals on farms located exclusively in the same area of production. Once the curd has reached optimal consistency, the cheese maker breaks it up into small pieces the size of kernels of corn. The curd is then cooked at 45-48°C, divided into blocks and placed in pressing forms in a hot and humid environment, which is ideal for the discharge of whey. After cooling, the cheese is formed by using imprinting belts that create marks across the heel conveying:

  • the designation and its logo (the stylized head of a sheep inside a diamond shape),
  • the code of the cheese maker,
  • the month and year of production.

The salting process, also using ancient and complex traditional techniques, can occur when the cheese is either partially or totally dry.

 
Consortium of Protection and Certification Body

The Pecorino Romano was one of the first Italian cheeses to obtain national and international recognitions. It has been renown on an international scale as Protected Designation of Origin, included in Annex A of the Denominations with geographical limitation, since 1951 following the Stresa Convention, and successive Presidential decree of 1955, and up until its full acceptance into the Agro-Food Products of Protected Origin in 1996. The Consorzio per la Tutela del Formaggio Pecorino Romano [Consortium for the Protection of Pecorino Romano Cheese], established in 1979 by a group of interested parties from Lazio and Sardinia, was entrusted with the task of overseeing the production and trade of Pecorino Romano by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1981. In 1996, Pecorino Romano was awarded its P.D.O. status. Since April 28, 2002, the Consortium has been granted the further task of safeguarding its P.D.O. status by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The goals of the Consortium, in collaboration with regional, national and EU entities and institutions include the protection and oversight of the production and marketing of Pecorino Romano, the protection of the name in Italy and abroad, as well as creating an increase in the cheese’s consumption and improving the quality of the product. A third-party recognized and authorized by the Ministry of Agriculture also exists in order to control the entire production chain of Pecorino Romano P.D.O., granting certification of compliance with the Production Regulations at the end of the production process.

The Pecorino Romano was one of the first Italian cheeses to obtain national and international recognitions. It has been renown on an international scale as Protected Designation of Origin, included in Annex A of the Denominations with geographical limitation, since 1951 following the Stresa Convention, and successive Presidential decree of 1955, and up until its full acceptance into the Agro-Food Products of Protected Origin in 1996. The Consorzio per la Tutela del Formaggio Pecorino Romano [Consortium for the Protection of Pecorino Romano Cheese], established in 1979 by a group of interested parties from Lazio and Sardinia, was entrusted with the task of overseeing the production and trade of Pecorino Romano by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1981. In 1996, Pecorino Romano was awarded its P.D.O. status. Since April 28, 2002, the Consortium has been granted the further task of safeguarding its P.D.O. status by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The goals of the Consortium, in collaboration with regional, national and EU entities and institutions include the protection and oversight of the production and marketing of Pecorino Romano, the protection of the name in Italy and abroad, as well as creating an increase in the cheese’s consumption and improving the quality of the product. A third-party recognized and authorized by the Ministry of Agriculture also exists in order to control the entire production chain of Pecorino Romano P.D.O., granting certification of compliance with the Production Regulations at the end of the production process.

 
In the kitchen
In the kitchen

Pecorino Romano P.D.O. can be served by itself or paired with vegetables, legumes, and salads, or honey and fruit preserves when younger in age. In the case of a maturation of over eight months, it is used instead as a grating cheese, and is an excellent condiment for pesto, or to add flavor to traditional Italian dishes such as pasta, rice and pizza. Red wines recommended for pairing with younger cheese are Cannonau di Sardegna or Velletri Rosso, while more ripened cheese pairs well with Brunello di Montalcino and Carignano del Sulcis.

 
 
Did you know?

The Pecorino Romano P.D.O. is naturally “lactose free” (*The absence of lactose is a natural consequence of Pecorino Romano cheesemaking process. It contains galactose in quantities below 2,7 mg/kg), and can be safely consumed by people affected by galactosemia (being galactose-free) or lactose intolerance (being lactose-free). This distinctive trait is rendered possible by the combined action of cheese maturation and enzymes naturally found in milk and through the use of processing aids such as “scotta innesto” (starter culture with a high microbial biodiversity) and lamb rennet paste.

(Source: “Assessment, validation and application to P.D.O. Pecorino Romano cheese of a GC-FID method for the determination of lactose and galactose traces in dairy products”, Prof. Gavino Sanna, Department of Chemistry & Pharmacy, University of Sassari)

The Pecorino Romano P.D.O. is naturally “lactose free” (*The absence of lactose is a natural consequence of Pecorino Romano cheesemaking process. It contains galactose in quantities below 2,7 mg/kg), and can be safely consumed by people affected by galactosemia (being galactose-free) or lactose intolerance (being lactose-free). This distinctive trait is rendered possible by the combined action of cheese maturation and enzymes naturally found in milk and through the use of processing aids such as “scotta innesto” (starter culture with a high microbial biodiversity) and lamb rennet paste.

(Source: “Assessment, validation and application to P.D.O. Pecorino Romano cheese of a GC-FID method for the determination of lactose and galactose traces in dairy products”, Prof. Gavino Sanna, Department of Chemistry & Pharmacy, University of Sassari)