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The island of Sicily is home to an ancient cheesemaking tradition, which some claim is in fact Europe’s oldest (Cantarelli, Betta), it is home to the second most populous sheep breed in Italy and its regional cuisine has infinite uses for the cheeses produced here. Yet, this extraordinary heritage is not well understood, both outside the island and within Sicily, and there is not a widespread awareness of its cultural, as well as gastronomic, value.

The cheeses listed here are the main traditional Sicilian cheeses being promoted through the Lactimed project.



Maiorchino is one of the largest pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheeses produced in Italy, with each cheese weighing between 10 – 18 kilograms. Produced in the Peloritani Mountains that surround Messina, it is made from raw sheep’s milk with a small amount of goat or cow’s milk added. The production methods are complex, characterized by a long phase of puncturing each form with a minacino, a needle that is inserted repeatedly into the curd, followed by applying pressure with the hands to purge out the whey. Maiorchino is a cylindrical cheese with flat or slightly concave faces, a yellow to amber rind, becoming brown with aging, and a compact paste that is white to pale-yellow. It is excellent after four months, but can be aged for up to 24 months.

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