Pecorino delle Balze volterrane DOP Produced since the 15th century, this cheese is made with raw sheep’s milk coagulated by inoculation with wild cardoon rennet and, sometimes, enzymes from the whey from previous cheesemaking. After 30-60 minutes, the curd is broken with a special stick into hazelnut-sized lumps to produce cheese that may be fresh (matured for 7-44 days),semi-mature (matured for 45 days-6 months) or mature (6-12 months). For cheese for longer maturing (over 12 months), the curd is cut into smaller pieces the size or peanuts or grains of rice and is sometimes reheated. It is then transferred and pressed by hand into hoops to allow the whey to drain. The cheese is dry-salted by hand and, after a few days, washed with water and left to dry. The rind is hard and gray in color and is sometimes coated with ash or local herbs. The body is soft and compact, and the color varies from ivory white to pale straw-yellow. On the nose it offers blossomy and herby aromatic notes, which vary according to type of pasture and the use of vegetable rennet. The flavor conjures up grass with intense long notes of spring flowers. The tangy note on the finish is accentuated with maturing.
Rennet: wild cardoon
Rind: relatively smooth and straw-yellow to bright yellow in color; treated with olive oil and ash, it turns gray
Body: hard, ivory white to varying shades of straw-yellow in color, friable, with sparse, irregular eyes
Top and bottom: flat
Height/weight: 5-15 cm / 0.6-2 kg, up to 7 kg for mature cheeses