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Canestrato Pugliese PDO is a hard cheese produced with sheep’s milk, formed with particular molds that give the cheese its characteristic appearance.
The production of this cheese was linked to the practice of “transhumance”, which is the traditional migration of cows and sheep. In fact, Canestrato Pugliese was produced between December and May, during the period when flocks and herds migrated from Abruzzo to Apulia, as recorded by Potenza historian and politician Giustino Fortunato in one of his verses: “If you can, beautiful sheep, pass Summer in the Maiella and winter in Pantanella”. Like other basket cheeses in the South, its fame long remained limited to the production area, only becoming known at national level after the Unification of Italy. We find confirmation of this back in 1861, on the occasion of the Italian agricultural, industrial and artistic Expo in Florence, where basket cheeses were defined as being “highly appreciated at local level, yet almost unknown in the rest of Italy and not to the people’s taste”.
During the ripening period, Canestrato Pugliese PDO is placed in a traditional basket (canestro in Italian), from which it takes its name. The basket molds (fiscelle) are made with bulrushes from Apulia, which are sweeter than other species and therefore do not influence the flavour of the cheese.
Canestrato Pugliese PDO has a cylindrical shape, with a brown to yellow coloured rind that is wrinkled, hard and thick. The cheese is straw yellow in colour, compact, crumbly, subtly rich and not too elastic, with barely visible coarse eyes. The taste is characteristic and pronounced, with a fragrant aroma in more ripened forms. The fresh product is more delicate and slightly less salty.
Canestrato Pugliese PDO is sliced into pieces with a special knife called petto di piccione (pigeon chest) and is then preserved in a moist cotton cloth. It can be eaten alone, with fruit and vegetables or grated over pasta. Young Canestrato Pugliese PDO is generally served with fava beans, pears and crudités, and is paired with still dry white or rosé wines. Mature Canestrato Pugliese PDO is ideal for freshly grating on stuffed meat rolls or over pasta with meat ragù: for example, traditional Apulia meat sauce, preferably served with traditional regional pasta such as Orecchiette, Ziti, Mezzi Ziti or Lumache. This cheese can be served as a main course with fresh vegetables like celery, radicchio, chicory, black olives and radish or, alternatively, stewed.
PDO (Protected Designation of Origin)(ES). Protected designation of origińe (PDO) stands for a product for which the principal steps for production are done following a well-established technique within the same geographical area, which gives the product its characteristics. Year of registration 1996
DOP (Denominazione di origine protetta)(It). Year of registration 1985
351 - 375 kcal per 100 gr.
28 gr. per 100 gr.
26 - 29 gr. per 100 gr.
6,6 - Individual visits per month (average)
183 - All individual visits
18 08 2016 - Date of publication of this article
14 12 2016 - Date of last edit