Pecorino sardo, a less-famous cousin to toscano and romano, is a sharp sheep's milk cheese that is eaten both fresh and ripened. Like all pecorinos, pecorino sardo begins as whole ewe's milk, as mandated by the government-controlled consortium that since 1996 has strictly regulated its manufacture.
The whole milk is then coagulated with calf's rennet, after which time it is broken down into pieces whose size varies, depending on whether the milk is destined to become mature or ripe pecorino. The curd is then transferred to cylindrical molds and either salted or brined and aged either 20 to 60 days, for fresh pecorino, or 60 to 360 days for the ripened pecorino.
The fresh variety has a smooth, white rind, a soft, firm inner texture and a mild, slightly acidic flavor. Ripened or aged pecorino sardo has a thicker, darker rind, with an interior that is firm and possibly grainy. The acidity and salinity are more pronounced in the mature cheese, whose minimum fat content is 35%, as compared to the fresh version’s minimum 40%.
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