The percorino of Carmasciano, better known simply as ‘Carmasciano’, is a cheese made with the milk of sheep belonging to some races that have better adapted to the climate of the area.
One of the races is called ‘broad-tailed sheep’ and is threatened with extinction: now present in little more than 50,000 exemplars only on the Apennines in Campania. The characteristics of the cheese are influenced by the qualities of the eaten grasses in the area of Carmasciano, for this reason the pecorino of Carmasciano is made in small quantities, by small family run farms, and sold with an high price, from here its definition as ‘yellow gold’.
For its production, it is born an association of producers (currently there are four registered farms) that focuses on the respect of a guideline under elaboration. The secret dream is that with the time, also the desired Dop denomination can arrive.
The articulate process of production of the Carmasciano starts leading to a temperature of 45 degrees a blend of fresh milk and milk of the previous evening, made stand at room temperature. The addition of natural rennet, get from the abomasum of sucking lambs, determines the formation of the curdle, broken with the ‘ruoto’, wood stick with a rounded end, before manually inserting and pressing it in the sieves.
The buttermilk remained in the boiler, with the addition of uncooked milk, led to 90 degrees, produces the ricotta that is removed and in the remaining liquid it is put the cheese in shape for 5 minutes. It follows a salting of 5 days, a washing in the wine and massages on alternate days with oil, wine and vinegar.
During the aging, which can last from three months to two years, the crust is sprinkled with dried chili pepper to keep the insects at a distance. Two fundamental elements make the Carmasciano so special, with special antioxidant features: the nutrition of the gazing flocks as in the past and the presence of the para-volcanic phenomenon of the Mephitis that with its fumes strongly influences the organoleptic characteristics of the milk. The little aged pecorino, more suitable for the table, has a sweet and aromatic taste; with the aging, the taste turns towards an intense spicy flavor that makes the cheese excellent to be grated too.