Pecorino di Carmasciano

Pecorino di Carmasciano, or simply Carmasciano, is an Italian cheese of the Pecorino family of cheeses made from sheep's milk. It has been recognized since 2009 by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies as a prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale (transl.traditional agri-food product), abbreviated as PAT.[1] Pecorino di Carmasciano was featured at Expo 2015 in Milan.[2]

Pecorino di Carmasciano
Other namesCarmasciano
Country of originItaly
TownGuardia Lombardi, Rocca San Felice, Frigento
Source of milkLaticauda sheep
DimensionsDiameter: 15–20 cm (5.9–7.9 in)
Height: 10–12 cm (3.9–4.7 in)
Weight1.5–2 kg (3.3–4.4 lb)
Aging time3–4 months, up to 24 months
CertificationPAT 2009

Place of origin

Carmasciano cheese is produced in the area known as Carmasciano, which is constituted by the towns of Guardia Lombardi, Rocca San Felice, and Frigento in the mountains of Alta Irpinia in the Italian Province of Avellino of the Campania region. The general area known as Carmasciano dates back to the Roman period and was documented by Virgil as the area between Guardia Lombardi and Rocca San Felice.[3] "Carmasciano" was the name of a Roman soldier who was given the land by the Emperor for his success in war.[1] The cheese may occasionally be made in Sant'Angelo dei Lombardi, Torella dei Lombardi, Villamania, and Morra de Sanctis.[4]

It is made from the unpasteurized milk of the Laticauda breed of sheep. The name Laticauda literally means "broad-tailed," as the sheep is of the fat-tailed type.[5] The Laticauda sheep are present only in the Campanian Apennines, with their numbers estimated to be around 50,000.[6] For this reason, Carmasciano is produced only in limited quantities on small, family-owned farms and is expensive. A 2015 survey indicated that only five farms currently produce around 2000 wheels of Carmasciano each year.[2]


The characteristics of the cheese are influenced by the conditions of the sheep. In the Ansanto valley, the sheep graze on alfalfa and sainfoin herbs near a fumarole (sulfurous fissure). This fissure, known as Mefite, is named after the Samnite goddess Mefitis (hence also the English word "mephitic" meaning sulfurous). It is located within Rocca San Felice. The fumarole emits gaseous carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid, which is carried by the wind and influences the formation of the cheese.[7]

The wheels of Carmasciano are usually 15–20 cm (5.9–7.9 in) in diameter and 10–12 cm (3.9–4.7 in) in height, weighing 1.5–2 kg (3.3–4.4 lb). They are produced in cylindrical form. The unpasteurized milk is put into a tinned copper boiler called a "caccavo" that is placed over a wood-burning fire, where it is heated to 40–45 °C (104–113 °F). It is continually mixed with a ruotolo, a wooden utensil with a rounded tip. The cheese is then coagulated with rennet from lamb or calf and left to rest for 15 minutes. The curds are worked by hand and chopped to the size of a grain of rice and are left to settle on the bottom of the caccavo. The paste is left to rest for 48 hours, then collected and placed in a wicker basket and blanched in hot whey. Once dry, after 5 to 10 days, the cheese is salted, washed with wine, and massaged every other day with olive oil, white wine, and vinegar.[4][3] Finally, the cheese matures on wooden boards in a cool room, where its rind is sprinkled with chili pepper to keep insects away.[8] It is aged for at least 3 to 4 months, though sometimes it is aged for up to 24 months.[7][9][10]

Carmasciano is a hard cheese that has a brown, hard, wrinkled and unctuous rind.[10] It has a medium to medium-high aroma and can become spicy, though is not typically pungent.[7] It is a natural antioxidant.[8] Carmasciano is eaten as a table cheese and is usually paired with red wine, and the most seasoned wheels are used to season pasta dishes.[9]

See also


  1. Picariello, Francesco (29 June 2014). "Carmasciano: il rilancio dell'Irpinia parte anche da qui" [Carmasciano: the revival of Irpinia also starts from here]. Orticalab (in Italian). Archived from the original on 5 June 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  2. "Expo 2015. Il Pecorino Carmasciano si presenta al mondo" [Expo 2015, Pecorino Carmasciano presents itself to the world]. Irpinia News (in Italian). 7 May 2015. Archived from the original on 6 December 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  3. "Pecorino di Carmasciano". Region of Campania (in Italian). 13 March 2015. Archived from the original on 6 January 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  4. Gambacorta, Laura (11 October 2010). "Il Carmasciano: primi passi verso la Dop" [Carmasciano: first steps towards the Dop]. Corriere del Mezzogiorno (in Italian). Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  5. "Pecorino di Laticauda Sannita". Region of Campania (in Italian). Archived from the original on 24 September 2015.
  6. Aiello, Francesco (19 February 2004). "La pecora laticauda" [The laticauda sheep]. Luciano Pignataro (in Italian). Archived from the original on 27 September 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  7. "Pecorino di Carmasciano PAT". (in Italian). Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  8. "The yellow gold of Rocca San Felice: the Carmasciano cheese". Insolita Italia. 29 June 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  9. "Pecorino di Carmasciano". Cumbafonzu (in Italian). Archived from the original on 9 February 2007. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  10. "Pecorino Carmasciano, formaggio irpino" [Pecorino Carmasciano, Irpino cheese]. Vie del Gusto (in Italian). 25 May 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
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