Tuscan Cheese: High Quality and History-Rich
Did you know that Italy is the third largest cheese producer in the European Union, behind France and Germany? Italy is one of the most productive cheese regions, with over 450 varieties.
Tuscany alone, small as it is, produces a plethora of local cheeses artisanally. Artisanal meaning made from scratch, by hand, minimal machinery, with local raw materials. Their cheesemakers put in some passion while respecting the history and identity of the cheese. It’s an arduous task making cheese and, hence, its hefty price.
Pecorino, the most popular cheese in Tuscany, is a hard cheese made from whole sheep’s milk between September and June. It can be eaten fresh when still soft and creamy, or it can be aged until firm but crumbly, nutty and sharp in flavour. Aged for at least 18 months, mature Pecorino can be grated over pasta sauce. There’s Pecorino with black truffles or walnuts inside, and wrapped in leaves during aging.
There are parts in Tuscany where Pecorino is produced with unpasteurised milk or where the oval-shaped maturing cheese is rubbed with olive oil, tomato paste or salt according to a local style and flavour. Pecorino is also served with honey or fruit conserves, a tradition during pre-Roman Etruscan period.
Another Tuscan cheese is Caprino, soft, creamy and made from goat’s milk. It is often rolled in herbs or ground pepper for extra flavour. It is produced in Maremma and the Mugello. Tuscan Stracchino, also known as crescenza is a soft, creamy cheese with a mild, slightly sweet flavour. It is made in the south west of Tuscany in Maremma also and is used in delicate egg dishes or with vegetables.
Another cheese produced in Maremma and in some areas of Massa Carrara and Pistoia is the Ricotta. It is high-quality fresh sheep cheese, low in fat and slightly sweet. It is a soft, fresh whey cheese made from ewe’s milk, used for many pasta fillings and desserts. Usually eaten fresh, it can also be found smoked or salted.
These cheeses are not the only ones Tuscany has to offer. There are more than 30 types of cheeses recognized as traditional Tuscan products.
Great Cheese Flavors in Seattle
Il Bistro in Seattle brings Tuscan cheeses to your dinner table whenever you dine with us. Find it in your pasta, insalata, and our Late Night Happy Hour.