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sheep's milk cheese

The essential Italian sheep cheese, made all over the country in many varieties.

In the south and in Piemonte the same basic cheese is called tuma if unsalted and young. A young salted version from Sicily is called primo sale. Aged, it's called pecorino, and southerners grate it over pasta instead of parmigiano.

Pecorino romano is long famous; they say it kept the Roman legions going. Today, most pecorino Romano is really made in Sardinia.

Southerners occasionally add peppercorns, chilis, walnuts or truffles. Sardinia has more sheep than anywhere in Italy, and pecorino sardo (or fiore sardo) is a hard, slightly brined and smoked DOP variety, and milder than pecorino Romano.

Pecorino baccellone Toscano is a popular spring time cheese from the province of Pisa, made only between March and June, and usually eaten with broad beans (baccellone means 'in the pod'). Unlike most sheep's cheeses it's not aged, so it has a fresh, salty, slightly pungent taste.

Pecorino di Pienza (formerly Pecorino delle Crete Senesi): see cacio.

Quite a few sheep cheeses are aboard the Ark of Taste, mostly for the rare breeds of sheep or the age old traditions in making it.

pecorino Bagnolese (Campania)

pecorino dei Monti Sibillini (Marche)

pecorino del Monte Marzano (Campania): has an aroma of hay and grass.

pecorino del Monte Poro (Calabria)

pecorino della montagna pistoiese (Tuscany): sold in three stages of ripeness: fresco (aged 7-20 days), abbucciato (aged at least 35 days) and da serbo (aged from 2-3 months to a year).

pecorino di Capracotta (Molise): one of the most pungent and tangy of pecorinos. It's often breaded and fried.

pecorino di Farindola (Abruzzo): a cheese that goes back to Roman times and is said to be the only one in the world made with pig rennet. It's then aged in wooden cupboards and often rubbed with vinegar and olive oil, giving the cheese an unusual musky aroma.

pecorino di Filiano (Basilicata)

pecorino di Moliterno (Basilicata)

pecorino di Osilo (Sardinia): smaller and thinner, smoother and more buttery than the classic pecorino sardo.

pecorino di Sopravissana (Abruzzo)

pecorino dolce dei Colli Bolognesi (Emilia-Romagna)

pecorino Laticauda (Campania)

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: See-ming Lee