Pecorino di Filiano PDO is a hard cheese, produced with whole sheep’s milk from animals belonging to Gentile di Puglia and Lucania, Leccese, Comisana, Sarda breeds and their cross-breeds.
The milk must come from one or two milkings drawn from animals that are pasture-grazed or fed with fresh fodder and hay from the terroir of origin. It must be processed within 24 hours of the first milking. The raw milk is filtered and heated traditionally in tin copper boilers until it reaches 40°C. Curdling takes place at 36-40°C, with the addition of kid or lamb rennet paste. The curd is broken into grains the size of a rice grain, after which it is extracted and inserted into reed molds; the molds can be made of other suitable materials. While the cheese is taking its shape, the curd is hand manipulated in order to stimulate the whey. After dry salting or brining, the wheels are ripened for at least 180 days, in characteristic clay caves or other suitable environments; from the twentieth day of ripening, the rind of the cheese may be treated with extra virgin olive oil, produced in Basilicata, and wine vinegar.
Appearance and Flavour
Pecorino di Filiano PDO has a cylindrical shape with flat surfaces, a diameter of 15 to 30 cm and an edge of 8 to 18 cm; its weight varies from 2.5 to 5 kg. The rind is characterised by the marks left by the basket where it was shaped; it is golden yellow to dark brown in colour, depending on the length of the ripening period. The cheese is grainy and crumbly and has a white to straw yellow colour. It has a compact consistency, with small eyes randomly dispersed throughout. The fresh cheese has a sweet and delicate flavour, while it becomes slightly piquant when the minimum level of ripening has been reached. The aroma is reminiscent of sheep’s milk, with hints of grass and roasted hazelnuts in the very mature typology.
The production area of Pecorino di Filiano PDO is within the territory of 30 municipal areas in the Province of Potenza, in the Basilicata region.
The importance of sheep breeding in the production area dates back to at least the Roman conquest of this territory, if not earlier, when the shepherds produced sheep’s cheese during the migration of the flocks. The expansion of dairy production continued into the Sveva and Angioina Age, increasing further in the XVI-XVII centuries with the Doria, feudal lords of the Vulture area, who organized specialised structures for production on the manor farms that reared sheep. In the Municipality of Filiano, where the cheese takes its name from, there has been an annual festival for 41 years, evoking history, tradition and emphasising the value of Pecorino di Filiano PDO.
Pecorino di Filiano PDO should be conserved in cool dry places or, if in pieces, in the least cold compartment of the fridge, sealed in a glass or plastic container. This product can be eaten on its own as optimal table cheese. Due to its flavour, it is a natural accompaniment to many strong-flavoured dishes that are typical of Lucana cuisine, especially grated over fresh pasta with ragù.
The product is marketed as Pecorino di Filiano PDO. It is sold year-round, whole or in large pieces, halved or quartered. It must bear the fire-branded product logo.
Pecorino di Filiano PDO is still produced using traditional tools such as the wooden cane with a bulbous end, known as a scuopolo or ruotolo, which is used to break the curd.