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CONSORZIO TUTELA PECORINO TOSCANO DOP Viale Goffredo Mameli, 17 58100 Grosseto • Italy

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Interested members of the trade, please contact: Atalanta Corporation - D.Coluccio & Sons Inc. - Forever Cheese - Musco Food Corporation -

Tracing the history of PECORINO TOSCANO FROM THE ETRUSCANS TO THE MIDDLE AGES For the Etruscans this area was really the “Madre Terra” or Mother Land. From the coastal pine covered plains, rich with abundant fruit and game, which opened towards rich pastures just perfect for the development of agriculture and the grazing of domestic animals. Even further inland the fertile hills covered with olive groves are lined with the famous cypress trees still synonymous today with the Tuscan countryside. In this fertile land, they also found abundant fish from the sea, its rivers, its lakes as well as a richness of minerals. The Etruscans were masters at working iron and this land offered them the opportunity to develope this art. The natural mineral springs that erupt from the earth add to the plenty and fascination of this land. The Etruscans grazed their sheep on the same ample pastures where today one can see sheep grazing, often near an ancient relic of centuries past. The modern cheese plants of today have replaced the rudimentary cheese making of other times. The Etruscans used vegetable rennet and produced very large wheels which would feed a family for a long time. Today animal rennet is used and of course the wheels are smaller. Much has remained the same. The pride and tradition of both shepherds and cheese makers has never waivered. The sweet Tuscan milk from the sheep grazing on the rich pastures that sweep from the Appenine Hills down to the sea continue to give us this very special and delicate Pecorino Toscano. THE MIDDLE AGES During the Middle Ages the breeding of sheep represented an important economic activity and was developed throughout all of the territory, despite being less extensive than the pig breeding. Particularly in the area of Tuscany, the breeding of sheep continued to grow in importance over time. Historical Note: The year 1200 gave us a legendary episode: a young boy, tending a flock of sheep in the Mugello area was drawing on a stone in the pasture. It happened that the painter Cimabue (known as the “Father of the Renaissance”) was passing by and observed this young boy drawing. He understood immediately the artistic genius of the boy and persuaded him to return with him to his atelier in Florence. The young shepherd boy, by the name of Giotto, went on to become one of the most renowned painters of all times! THE RENAISSANCE The most ancient documents mention the Pecorino as Cacio Marzolino. The historian Bartolomeo Platina in his famous treatise penned in the year 1475 declares the Marzolino d’Etruria the best cheese in Italy while comparing it to Parmigiano Reggiano. Pope Pius II (of the famous Piccolomini family) while travelling in the area of the Val d’Orcia was so struck by the quality and taste of the cheese that he included the incident in the story of his life in 1463. It was during this period that the breeding of sheep reached its peak in Tuscany, for several reasons: the production of wool, the meat of the lambs which was prized, and the production of cheese which was dependent mostly on the shepherds who used it as payment to land owners. A part would go towards family consumption and the rest to be sold in the local villages. During the ensuing years the production of the cheese did not actually follow any specific norm or rules. For many years, the cheese making was the responsibility of one person in a family. This was an effort to ensure and maintain a certain continuity in the quality. In the late 18th century, official documents of the City of Florence show where the author Francesco Molinelli declares that the “Caci” of Tuscany, both fresh and aged, will never cede their position of being the best, and goes on to cite various examples from all over the Region of Tuscany. He goes on in detail with regard to the Marzolino, the manner of curing and keeping the cheese, the particulars of the sheep breeding, and makes mention in his famous document of the talent of the young ladies who at the time were the experts in producing these cheeses noting this expertise of theirs represented a very rare and special “dowry”!

Pecorino Toscano DOP is a young 100% sheep’s milk cheese. It is approximately forty days old when it arrives in the United States. Because it is a young cheese, its flavor is discreet – like a small child at times is shy. Upon first tasting the cheese, one will perceive a hint of sweetness that mingles with Tuscan herbs, grass and wildflowers. The texture is silky amazing and the aftertaste on the palate is wonderfully complex but easy to enjoy. Pecorino Toscano Stagionato DOP is aged for an additional three to four months in Italy. Pecorino Toscano Stagionato DOP is created from locally collected sheep’s milk during September and June. As it ages, the cheese loses its milky white color and takes on a beautiful hay and ivory color. The sweet, silky texture of the original cheese slowly gives way to a sharp, zesty flavor with a brittle texture. Pecorino Toscano Oro Antico Riserva DOP is handmade by taking a select young, delicious, authentic Pecorino Toscano, burnishing it with olive oil, and aging it in a stone cellar for six months. During aging, more olive oil is applied to the rind as the cheese gets harder and tangier. Finally, each cheese is given a seal of red wax to indicate its special heritage. Oro Antico Riserva has a grainy texture due to the aging process, whereby most traces of moisture escape from within the cheese. Made from 100% ewe’s milk, the flavor is delivered to the back of the tongue with delicate force, imparting overtures of wild herbs and lemongrass. Because sheep’s milk contains a very high percentage of butterfat, Pecorinos are very flavorful but have a tendency to “cry” when they reach room temperature.

LOOK FOR THE DOP & FIND AUTHENTIC ITALIAN QUALITY PRODUCTS ! Throughout the world, Italian food enjoys a reputation of high quality thanks to its centuries-old traditions and dedication to quality and excellence. This patrimony is certified by the European Union through the DOP seal. DOP, in English PDO, stands for Protected Designation of Origin and is awarded to products of excellence that express a close tie to the territory of origin. The PDO recognizes agricultural products and foodstuffs which are produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area recognizing production methods. One of the ways to distinguish the authenticity of an Italian product is to always check whether the label displays the red DOP/PDO symbol; the DOP/PDO symbol helps one distinguish an original product from the Italian sounding imitations that abound!

Pecorino handout 2012  

Pecorino handout 2012

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