Pecorino is the name given to all Italian cheeses made from sheep’s milk.
Pecorino cheeses distinguished by aging
These cheeses can be sold either young or old. The old ones are sometimes referred to as “ripened” (“stagionato”.) They are generally aged for at least 4 months, developing a strong, defined flavour, a brittle, hard texture and a thick yellowish or brownish rind. The rinds have a herringbone pattern, which used to be caused by the cheese press made of strands of grass. Now, because it is expected, the marks are made by plastic moulds (just as for Spanish Manchego cheese.)
The younger versions may be matured for only 20 days. They are softer, and have a milder taste. They are sometimes referred to as “sweet.” These younger versions melt and slice well, but don’t grate well.
Both aged and young versions will have a salty tang to them.
- Pecorino Romano is the name given to cheeses from the Rome area. They are well-aged and sharp;
- Pecorino Toscano is from Tuscany, milder and creamy when young, stronger and drier when aged;
- Pecorino Sardo is from Sardinia;
- Pecorino Siciliano from Sicily.
Aged pecorinos can be easily shaved or grated.
“Pecora” in Italian means “sheep”. “Pecorino” is an adjective derived from that word, meaning “pertaining to sheep.”