Pecorino cheese, a high-quality Italian cheese, is produced from whole sheep's milk and is known for its crumbly texture and intense flavor. Made throughout Italy, its most famous varieties include Pecorino Romano, Pecorino Sardo, Pecorino Toscano, and Pecorino Siciliano. These cheeses are often aged for different periods, resulting in a variety of tastes and textures to suit various culinary applications.
Ideal for grating and melting, pecorino cheese is a culinary staple in Italian cuisine. A vital ingredient in delicious pasta dishes, like Cacio e Pepe or Pesto, it is also commonly used as a finishing touch on salads, baked goods, and pizzas. The unique taste of pecorino cheese adds a rich and savory flavor to any dish it is incorporated in.
Cooking with Pecorino cheese is an art that can elevate a range of dishes from pastas to salads. However, common mistakes that people often make when using Pecorino cheese include not taking into account its saltiness, which can overpower a dish if used in excess. It's also important to remember that it melts differently than other cheeses, so the cooking method and timing may need adjustments based on the dish.
To get the most out of Pecorino, always go for quality. An authentic Pecorino cheese is made with 100% sheep's milk and has been aged for a specific period to achieve its distinct flavor and texture. Shave it generously over warm pasta dishes for a melt-in-your-mouth experience or grate it finely for a more intense flavor. Also, pairing Pecorino cheese with the right wine can bring out its full flavor profile. It pairs well with Italian full-bodied reds, like Barolo or Brunello.
Less known is the fact that, like many hard cheeses, Pecorino is lactose-free, making it a perfect choice for those who are lactose intolerant. Another great tip is that the rind of the cheese can be used to add flavor to soups or stocks.
Can I use Pecorino cheese instead of Parmesan in my recipe?
Is Pecorino cheese good for melting?
Can I eat the rind of the Pecorino cheese?
What dishes are best suited for Pecorino cheese?
Is Pecorino cheese lactose-free?
What's the difference between Pecorino and Parmesan cheese?
Is Pecorino cheese good for grating?
What's a good wine pairing for Pecorino cheese?
Can I use Pecorino cheese in a pizza?
What's the difference between Pecorino Romano and Pecorino Toscano?
Expiration & Storage Tips
When does pecorino cheese expire?
Unopened pecorino cheese can last for 8-9 months in the fridge, well past the printed date on the package, due to the cheese's dry nature and high salt content. Once opened, pecorino cheese can remain good for up to 3-4 weeks if wrapped tightly and stored properly. On the other hand, if it's frozen, you can extend this hard cheese's life up to 6-8 months. However, do note that frozen cheese can slightly alter its flavor and texture upon thawing.
How do you tell if pecorino cheese is bad?
To identify if pecorino cheese has gone bad, look for noticeable changes in appearance and smell. If you notice mold that's not white or green-blue in color (which can be typical of some artisan cheeses), or an off smell, it's time to toss the cheese. Foul or overly sour smell is a strong indicator that the cheese has spoiled. Moreover, if the cheese feels slimy or discolored, it's likely bad.
Tips for storing pecorino cheese to extend shelf life
• Always wrap your pecorino cheese in parchment paper or wax paper, rather than plastic wrap. This let's the cheese breathe and prevents unwanted moisture buildup.
• After wrapping it in paper, you can put the cheese in a plastic bag, leaving it partially open to allow for air circulation.
• Store the cheese in the lower compartment or in the vegetable crisper of your fridge, where the temperature is relatively stable.
• For freezing, you preferably should grate the cheese and then freeze it in airtight, heavy-duty freezer bags. This way, you can directly use the frozen grated cheese for cooking, eliminating the need for thawing.
• If you have a large piece of pecorino cheese, it's advisable to cut it into smaller pieces before freezing. Smaller pieces will thaw much faster and more evenly than a large chunk.