These hard sheep cheeses come from southern Italy, central Italy and the island of Sardinia. The recipe for Pecorino Romano was described 2000 years ago and has been prepared according to the original recipe ever since. Once upon a time, it was an important food for Roman legionnaires, because cheese gives strength and vigor to tired soldiers. Based on their maturity, lightly ripened, medium-ripe and long-ripened cheeses are distinguished. Strongly riped cheeses with a salty aroma are mainly preferred for pasta dishes. Especially in dishes of Roman origin, such as bucatini all'amatriciana, spaghetti alla carbonara and spaghetti cacio e pepe. Depending on its ripening, it is sold under different names: fresh: aged for 20-80 days (pecorino fresco or dolce), semi-ripe: aged 3-6 months (pecorino semistagionato) and matured: aged for more than 6 months (pecorino stagionato or piccanto). During ripening, the water content of the cheese decreases, it forms a different texture, it becomes harder and saltier.
How to make Pecorino?
- good quality milk (20 litres)
- 2 capsules of Italian matured cheeses culture
- 2 capsules lysozyme
- 5.5 ml natural rennet 210 IMCU
- uniodized salt
I do not recommend this cheese specifically for beginners! It takes a little routine and a lot of patience. Remember, cheesemakers are happy and patient! It is worth maturing for at least 3-4 months, so I recommend to made from at least 20, but preferably 30 litres of milk.
I pour the milk into a larger pot, start heating it. Meanwhile, I also dissolve 1 capsule of lysozyme enzyme per 10 litres in cold water and immediately mix it with milk to prevent late bloating. I heat it up to 32°C, stirring it sometimes thoroughly to heat all parts of the milk evenly. When I start heating the milk, I pour the culture powder into a small bowl and dissolve it in a little lukewarm water.At 32 °C I mix the dissolved culture and mix well.
I cover the pot so that the milk does not cool. With culture, I ripen the milk for 50 minutes. I always cover the pot so that the top of the milk does not cool.
2. MILK INOCULATION:
I inoculate the milk with 5.5 ml (2.75 / 10 liters of milk) with 210 IMCU natural rennet. I also mix rennet thoroughly into the milk, cover it and no longer move, stir or heat it. If the milk rotates from mixing, it is necessary to stop the rotation with the help of a ladle, otherwise the clotting will break and become uneven. 30 minutes of clotting time will follow.
3. CUTTING CURD: I cut the curd into 2×2 cm columns. I rest for 2-3 minutes, then further cut into 1×1 cm nuggets. I continue cutting further, at a slightly faster speed, even the size of the nuggets reaches 0.5×0.5 cm. Cutting time is about 8-10 minutes. After cutting, I gently stir the curd for 10 minutes so that the nuggets harden a little.
I heat the curd to 35 °C for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. (2 °C / 5 min) It should be stirred so that each grain can heat separately. I continue to heat it up to 46-48 °C, but at a slightly faster speed. Increase the temperature by 3 °C in 5 minutes. Meanwhile, I constantly stir so that the curds do not stick together. It is best to move the curd mixer in the direction of number eight so that each grain can heat separately. This process takes about 20-25 minutes. A little more perseverance is needed! 15-20 minutes of stirring follow. In this case, I no longer heat the curd, I just solidify the small clots.
10 minutes of sedimentation. I cover the pan and take a break :)
I remove 50% of the whey collected during sedimentation. I line the prepared mould with a damp cheesecloth. I collect the curd in the pot. Using cheesecloth, I reach under the curd, lift it out from the pot, drain it a little and put it into the mould. I constantly press the curd with my hands. When the mould is full, I press it hard, put a follower on top and put it in the press.
First, I press it with the weight of the cheese, and then gradually increase the weight. So first I press it with 1x, 2x, 5x and then 10x weight of the cheese. In the meantime, I turn the cheese first time after 10 minutes, then again after 30, then after 60-60-60 minutes. I press for a total of 5-6 hours at 23-25 °C. The core temperature of the cheese is 32-35 °C for lactose breakdown and acid development. During rotation, I drizzle the cheese with warm whey to help keep it warm. During pressing, the surface of the cheese becomes smoother and the cheese disc becomes more compact. After 6 hours, the weight is removed and for overnight I let the cheese cool and convert the remaining lactose into lactic acid.
The next morning the cheese is ready to be salted. I measure out 20 dkg of non-iodized salt and add enough 15-16 °C water to become 1 kilogram of the whole solution. When the salt has mixed in the water, I put the cheese in a bowl and pour the brine over it. I soak 10-12 hours per kilo of cheese in the salt bath. I turn the cheese over every 6 hours.
I dry the cheese for 2-3 days to prepare for maturation. I ripen the cheese at 13-15 °C and 80-85% humidity It can be aged for at least 3-4 months and up to 24 months. The longer I mature, the more characteristic the flavours develop in the cheese. During ripening, the cheese must be turned over every day. At first, wipe daily with 5% saline solution and then dry. The cheeseboard should also be wiped dry from moisture from the cheese. As the bark strengthens, it is possible to thin out the saline solution, but you need to rotate it every day. Sometimes I wax it in two layers after drying. This makes maturation easier! It does not need to be wiped with a saline solution, maturation is safer, it is easier to protect against molds. But I still turn the cheese every day. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance, but it's worth it, because it turns into a very tasty cheese.
HAPPY CHEESE MAKING!