The oldest cheese in Europe.

“O Picurinu” is Europe’s oldest cheese. Processing according to traditional methods only makes it unique and inimitable. Protected since 1955, it has been a protected designation of origin product since 1996.

Categories: ,


Pecorino Siciliano PDO is a semi-cooked, hard cheese, made with whole, raw sheep’s milk from animals reared in the production zone. It is available in Fresh (matured for 20 to 30 days), Medium-mature (matured for 60 to 90 days), and Mature (matured for at least 120 days) types.

The Pecorino Siciliano PDO production zone encompasses the entire region of Sicily. The origins of Pecorino Siciliano, or “O Picurinu”, as it is called in Sicily, date back to the classical period, although sheep’s milk cheeses are mentioned even earlier, in works by Greek authors, e.g. Homer (Odyssey book nine, 10th-9th centuries B.C.).

Even Pliny the Elder, who classified domestic and foreign cheeses of the Classical Era for the first time in his Naturalis Historia, described Sicilian cacio as one of the greatest cheeses of the time. The sensory qualities of Pecorino Siciliano PDO are characterised by a balanced flavour, resulting from a combination of elements. A key role is played by the fact that the sheep from which the milk used for production is obtained are almost exclusively grass-fed on pasture, and the quantity of fat contained in the milk is fundamental too.


Pecorino Siciliano has a characteristic cylindrical shape with flat or slightly concave faces. The heel is about 10-18 cm high and its weight varies between 4 and 12 kg. The rind is yellowish-white with a very rough surface created by the reed basket. The paste is compact, white or straw-coloured with just a few holes. The flavour is strong, slightly piquant but fruity, with a floral and spicy aroma. The piquant flavour increases as the ripening period lengthens, ranging from 4 to 8 months. The spiciness of the flavour is due to the presence of polyphenols and antioxidants. The traditional production method and the use of wooden utensils allow optimal regulation of the surface bacterial flora. This influences not only the health but also the sensory sphere of Pecorino Siciliano PDO. The aroma is floral and spicy, with a slightly fruity aftertaste.

The territory

Pecorino Siciliano PDO is produced throughout the region of Sicily and is made exclusively from sheep’s milk in the Sicilian territory.
The qualities of Pecorino Siciliano PDO depend significantly on what the sheep are fed and how the milk is processed. The floral aromas come from the green pastures in which the flocks feed. The fresh milk is not altered by pasteurisation processes that nullify all its characteristics.

How it is made

Pecorino Siciliano PDO is processed using traditional methods only. Each Pecorino is made from sheep’s milk and using the same production techniques. Why, then, is Pecorino Siciliano PDO a product of excellence with unique and unrepeatable characteristics outside its environment of origin? The quality of Pecorino Siciliano PDO depends significantly on what the sheep are fed and how the milk is processed, with wood being the cheese maker’s best friend. These factors mainly determine the quantity of fat and protein, but also the vitamins, polyphenols and numerous antioxidants that pass from the milk to the cheese, becoming concentrated fivefold. But there is more: the green pastures, where the flock feeds, strongly characterise the milk, transferring all the flavours and aromas of the Sicilian territory to it.


Pecorino Siciliano PDO has many little-known peculiarities. Let’s discover them all. The rind of Pecorino Siciliano PDO is yellow and very wrinkly. This is due to the marks left by the fascedde. The fascedde, or fuscelle, are the containers in which the pecorino cheese is pressed. According to tradition, Pecorino Siciliano PDO producers use fuscelle made of reeds. The way the milk is processed significantly affects the final quality, and wood continues to be the cheese maker’s best friend. The production method involves turning the wheels several times in the fascedde to give Pecorino Siciliano PDO its characteristic cylinder shape. The cheese paste is white and compact because the more oily substance that oozes out when it is cut, the more fat it contains and, consequently, the stronger its flavour.

Consortium for the Protection of Pecorino Siciliano Pdo

There are 21 members of the voluntary Consortium for the Protection of Pecorino Siciliano PDO. Thanks to their commitment, the Consortium can safeguard a cheese that represents the historical and cultural heritage of Sicily and the whole of Italy. It is made exclusively from fresh, whole sheep’s milk, coagulated with lamb rennet. The sheep that supply the milk to the cheese makers are reared on wild pastures. Salting is carried out manually on each wheel of cheese while maturing lasts never less than four months and takes place in naturally ventilated rooms. Only in this way does Pecorino Siciliano PDO acquire its own personality, retaining all the flavours of Sicily.