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Pecorino romano on board cropped.PNG
Country of originItaly
Source of milkSheep
Related media on Wikimedia Commons

Pecorino cheeses are hard Italian cheeses made from sheep's milk. The name "pecorino" derives from pecora which means sheep in Italian.[1]


Ultra-aged Sardinian pecorino cheese. Produced in Sardinia and distributed from Genoa

Of the six main varieties of pecorino, all of which have Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status under European Union law, pecorino romano is probably the best known outside Italy, especially in the United States, which has been an important export market for the cheese since the 19th century.[2] Most pecorino is produced on the island of Sardinia, though its production is also allowed in Lazio and in the Tuscan provinces of Grosseto and Siena. Ancient Roman authors wrote about this cheese and its production technique.[3]

The other five mature PDO cheeses are the pecorino sardo from Sardinia (casu berbeghinu in Sardinian language); pecorino toscano, whose production was already attested by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History;[4] pecorino siciliano (or picurinu sicilianu in Sicilian) from Sicily; pecorino di Filiano from Basilicata;[5] and pecorino crotonese from Province of Crotone in Calabria.[6] Another well-known pecorino is the one that was produced in Abruzzo, the pecorino di Atri.[7][8]

All come in a variety of styles depending on how long they have been aged. The more matured cheeses, referred to as stagionato ("seasoned" or "aged"), are harder but still crumbly in texture and have decidedly buttery and nutty flavours. The other two types, semi-stagionato and fresco, have a softer texture and milder cream and milk tastes.


Pecorino of Filiano

A variant from Southern Italy is pecorino pepato (literally, "peppered Pecorino"), to which black peppercorns are added. Today many other additions are made, for example walnuts, rocket, or tiny pieces of white or black truffle.

In Sardinia, the larvae of the cheese fly are intentionally introduced into pecorino sardo to produce a local delicacy called casu marzu, which means "rotten cheese".

Meals may be finished with a good pecorino stagionato, served with pears and walnuts or drizzled with strong chestnut honey. Pecorino is also often used to finish pasta dishes, and used to be the natural choice for most Italian regions from Umbria down to Sicily, rather than the more expensive Parmigiano-Reggiano. It is still preferred today for the pasta dishes of Rome and Lazio, for example pasta dressed with sugo all'amatriciana, cacio e pepe, and pasta alla Gricia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ pecorino, n. OED Online. December 2013. Oxford University Press. Accessed 7 January 2014.
  2. ^ Export statistics Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine from the producers’ consortium
  3. ^ Italian Pecorino and Ancient Roman
  4. ^ Pecorino Toscano Consortium for the Protection of Tuscan Pecorino (in Italian)
  5. ^ Guide to PDO and PGI products: Pecorino of Filiano
  6. ^ Page not found - Guffanti formaggi
  7. ^ Barberis, Corrado (2010). Mangitalia: la storia d'Italia servita in tavola (in Italian). Donzelli Editore. p. 194. ISBN 978-88-6036-449-4.
  8. ^ Cremona, Luigi; Soletti, Francesco (2002). L'Italia dei formaggi (in Italian). Touring Editore. p. 97. ISBN 978-88-365-2727-4.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Pecorino at Wikimedia Commons