Italian Pecorino is a cheese produced in Italy from ewe’s milk.
“Pecora” is the Italian name for “sheep”, it comes from the latin word “pecus”, which means domesticated animals, used in agricultural setting to obtain food.
There are different varieties of Italian Pecorino. They are produced all around Italy.
Pecorino Romano is one of the seven Italian Pecorino cheeses which have Protected Designation of Origin status (PDO) under the European Union law and it is the most known around the world. Pecorino Romano is an ancient types of cheese, it’s origin has more history than most cheeses in the world have: it was a prized dressing at banquets in the imperial palaces of the ancient Romans and it has been used for Roman legions rations because of its long-term storage capacity. 27 grams was established to be the daily ration given to the Legionaries, with some bread and a farro soup. It is a cheese which helped the tired soldiers, giving them energy.
Ancient Roman authors wrote about this cheese and its production technique: Homer described the process of sheep’s milking and Columella gives a very detailed description in his text “De re rustica”: “[…] the milk is generally curdled using lamb’s or kid’s rennet (…) The milking bucket, when it has been filled with milk, should be kept at a medium heat. Do not let it come near fire […] rather keep it well away from fire, and as soon as the liquid is curdled, it should be transferred into baskets or moulds. In fact it is essential that the whey can drain immediately and be separated from the solid matter […]. Then when the solid part is removed from the baskets or moulds, it should be placed in a cool, dark place so that it does not go off, on tables as clean as possible, and sprinkled with ground salt so that it can sweat.”
This cheese continues to be produced using the traditional methods and in only unique areas of the Italian region of Lazio.