Sicilian Cheeses

Sicilian Cheeses


We dedicate this post to the famous Sicilian cheeses. 28 traditional Sicilian cheeses, other 28 reasons to visit this amazing island. Come to Sicily and have a delicious holiday!

Tour to a private Sicilian cheese dairy at Etna slope you can find here. 

Pecorino

The name derives from Italian "pecora" meaning "sheep". Production of pecorino began in Southern Italy, and today there are dozens of varieties in different regions. Red or black pepper, dried tomatoes, olives and truffels are also often added to the cheese. Pecorino is often used with pasta, grapes and jams. Sicilian pecorino has several subtypes: tuma (young and unsalted cheese), primo sale (young salty cheese), canestrato (ripe cheese), tumazzu (maturation time more than 2 years).

Caciocavallo

Typical Sicilian stretched-curd cheese made from sheep's or cow's milk. Shaped like a tear-drop, it is similar in taste to the aged Southern Italian provolone cheese, with a hard edible rind. Also, the shape reminds a hanging ball. In Sicily there's a grim saying "end up like caciocavallo". Caciocavallo is often added to dishes with mushrooms and vegetables. Can be soft (45 days old), and semi-hard (up to 6 months).

Scamorza

Homeland of the cheese is Southern Italy. Scamorza can be of two types - fresh and smoked. Ripenig time - from several hours to 15 days. Scamorza is best served with fresh vegetables, mushrooms and ham. Mostly made from cow's milk.

Provola, provolone

This spheric shaped cheese is being produced in Southern Italy for more than a thousand years. Texture is compact and with holes. Provolone can be sweet, young (provolone dolce), spicy, salty (provolone piccante) and smoked (provolone affumato). Provolone is served fresh, and also good cooked on grill with vegetables. Semi-hard cheese, ripening period from 10 days to one year. Cow's milk.

 

Ricotta

Delicate curd cheese made from sheep (or cow, goat, or Italian buffalo) milk. Ricotta is used in variety of Italian dishes, from tortelllini di ricotta and sauces for pasta to amazing Sicilian cannoli pastries and fruit cakes. 

Maiorchino

Semi-hard or hard cheese made from sheep's or goat's milk. The cheese matures for at least six months and has a spicy aftertaste. Each block of cheese weighs 25 to 40 kilograms and can be stored for about ten years.

 

Gorgonzola

One of the most popular Italian cheeses, with a typical spicy flavor. The origin of the cheese dates back to the Middle Ages. This blue cheese is produced from cow's milk to which starter bacteria is added, along with spores of the mold Penicillium glaucum. Aging period - 2-4 months.

Ragusano

One of the most prominent Sicilian cheeses. It is a firm stretched-curd cheese made with whole milk from cows of the Modicana breed, raised exclusively on fresh grass or hay in the provinces of Ragusa and Syracuse. Fresh cheese's ripening time - two months, semi-hard up to six months, hard - 8-12 months. Delicate, sweet and slightly salty taste. Good fresh, and fried, also oftenly used in variety of Sicilian dishes.

Belicino

Traditional Sicilian cheese made from sheep's milk with the addition of olives growing in the valley of the river Belice. Production of this cheese started in the postwar period. Block of cheese weighs from 1 to 5 kg.

 

Caciotta

Sicilian soft cheese. It matures in 20-30 days, and often to enhance the flavor blocks of cheese are draped with grass, leaves, walnut, chestnut and kept in small barrels. Has sweet milk flavor. Very good with fresh tomatoes and olives, as well as in sandwiches and salads. From sheep's milk with a little addition of cow's milk.

 

Canestrato

Typical Sicilian hard cheese from pecorino family made from a mixture of sheep's milk and goat's milk. Canestri are wicker baskets where canestrato is aged. Ripening time - up to 2 years. Has delicate, slightly sweet taste, but the older the cheese, the more salty and sour the taste. Good match with Sicilian red wine Nero d'Avola. The cheese has a special protected status, banning its production elsewhere than Sicily.

Cofanetto

Traditional Sicilian cheese made from sheep's milk and cow's milk. Ripening time - from 20 days to one year. Square shape, block of cheese weights from 2 to 10 kg. Very old cheese, its origin dates back to VI century.

Ericino

Traditional Sicilian cheese made from the mixture of cow's milk and sheep's milk. Named after the town of Erice where they began to produce this type of cheese. The origin dates back to the Middle Ages. Ripening period from 20 days to 4 months.

Mozzarella

Famous Italian fresh cheese traditionally made from Italian buffalo milk, but also can be made from cow's milk. The most tasty mozzarella - giornata, which is served the day after it's made, but also mozzarella can be kept in brine for up to a week. Low-moisture mozzarella can be kept refrigerated for up to a month, though some shredded low-moisture mozzarella is sold with a shelf life of up to six months. Mozzarella of several kinds is also used for most types of pizza and several pasta dishes, or served with sliced tomatoes and basil in Caprese salad.

Piddiato

Traditional Sicilian stretched-curd cheese made from sheep's milk. High-fat, semi-hard, weight from 1 to 5 kg. Ripening period - from 20 days to 12 months. Very tasty flavory cheese.

Vastedda

Traditional Sicilian cheese from sheep's milk. The origin dates back to the XV century. Best served fresh. Has tangy flavor of fresh sheep's milk with a slightly sour taste.

Primo sale

Young Sicilian cheese from pecorino family. The name itself literally means "first salt" and is used to describe early stages of maturation. Rindless cheese that is semi-soft in texture and milky in flavor. This cheese is typically made plane or flavored with olives, black or red peppercorns. Made from sheep's milk.

 

Secondo sale

The name means "second salt" and describes the next stage of maturation after primo sale. Secondo sale is actually a half-matured pecorino. This cheese is mentioned in the Odyssey of Homer. Maturation period - about 4 months. There are varieties of secondo sale, for example, black Sicilian (nero siciliano secondo sale) - cheese covered with a mixture of olive oil and powdered black pepper. 

Caprino

Traditional Sicilian cheese made from goat's milk. There are two basic types of the cheese: fresh (fresco) and matured (stagionato). Ripening time of fresh caprino - 3-4 days, it's soft cheese with creamy texture. Ripening period of matured caprino - 20-40 days, it's salty and spicy cheese. Caprino is served fresh with fruits and chardonnay, or inside pasta dishes.

Tuma

Traditional Sicilian young and unsalted cheese from pecorino family. Originally from sheep's milk, but sometimes also made from the mixture of sheep's milk and cow's milk. Best used within 2 weeks after production.

Luna piena

The name "luna piena" ("full moon") comes from its round shape. The cheese has white or grey skin of the mold Pennicilium candidum. It has creamy texture and mild, delicate, intense flavor. From cow's milk.

 

Ubriaco Nero d'Avola

The literal translation - "drunk from Nero d'Avola". It got its name from the fact that the cheese matures in the distillation of the famous Sicilian wine. Has spicy and balanced aroma, intense, but subtle. From cow's and/or sheep's milk.

 

Talè

Traditional Sicilian young soft cheese with mold. Has delicate taste. From cow's or goat's milk.

Fiore sicano

Traditional Sicilian cheese with poetical name that means "Sicilian flower". Soft cheese from cow's milk. Has butter aroma and slightly sour taste. Maturing time - 2-20 months. Best served with white and red Sicilian wines, especially with Nerello Mascalese. 

Robiola

Soft-ripened cheese of the Stracchino family. Made with varying proportions of cow's, goat's and sheep's milk. The name comes from the word "rubeole" ("ruddy") because of the color of the seasoned rind. The cheese has a long history, and was first mentioned in the Natural History of Pliny the Elder. Robiola is generally served as a table cheese, either alone or with oil, salt and pepper, and also can be used in cooking.

Piacentinu ennese

Unique sheep's milk cheese from Sicily which is infused with saffron. The cheese's other key ingredient is black peppercorns, although the flavor is not at all spicy. A rare cheese that is produced exclusively in Sicily, Piacentu is most noted for its striking yellow color which results from the addition of saffron. The cheese has a soft rind, a fragrant, compact and yellow paste, and a delicate, savory flavor.  Ruggero the Norman, the king of Sicily, asked local cheese-makers to start producing this cheese because he believed that saffron caused an anti-depressing effect. He intended to serve the cheese to his wife to cheer her up. Best served with a dish of green olives, cured meat, and roasted red peppers. 

Cinniri

Cheese from caprino family produced exclusively from the milk of Girgentana goats, Sicilian breed of goats. Has soft texture, thin skin of grey color, which appears due to aging under almond wood ash. Sweet taste with hints of dried fruits and green nuts.

 

Ficu

Cheese made exclusively from the milk of Girgentana goats, Sicilian greed of goats, with the addition of fig juice. The translation of the Sicilian word "ficu" - fig. Soft cheese without skin, wrapped in the leaves of the fig tree. Creamy soft taste, slightly sour and sweet with the scent of figs. Fiku is spread on bread or crackers, as well as used for the preparation of various dishes.

 


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