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The origins of sheep cheese in Tuscany date back in the mists of time to the Etruscans.  Over the centuries, sheep grazing and breeding become widespread throughout the region.

pecorino toscano

With the establishment of the first dairies, the figure of the shepherd as the breeder of sheep became separate from that of the dairyman, the authentic cheese- making craftsman.
DOP Tuscan sheep cheese is also known under the old, popular name of "cacio marzolino" from its period of production which traditionally began in March and continued all Spring long. The cheese is made from full-fat sheep's milk, milked daily with the addition of veal rennet.
The cheese is cooked and broken up until granules of curd of varying sizes form from as small as sweet corn (for semi-hard sheep cheese) to hazelnut size (for soft cheese). The cheese is then pressed and salted and allowed to ripen for up to six months depending on which gastronomic level is being aimed at.
The thin, bright-yellow rind envelops a soft, delicate, straw-white coloured cheese with a spicy tang. Tuscan sheep cheese can be enjoyed as a table cheese, accompanied by honey, fruits or jams.
It is grated over some soups, some pasta dishes and is used for flavouring meat dishes. 

Published: 20/3/2014

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