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Sicilian Cheese

Siclian Cheese

1. Caciocavallo

Say cheese! Pronounce as: kah chow kah vallow ‘Cavallo’ is the Italian for horse. One theory states the name comes from how the cheese is stored. Two cheeses united with a string hung straddling in the air. As on a horseback. God forbade people seeing any human anatomy. Decisively more boring is the Latin origin. Cascabellus, a bell shaped form. Yawn. Made both with cow milk as with sheep milk. One or the other. Usually eaten fresh but can be stored up to six months. Grated caciocavallo goes well on pasta. And in various preparations (involtini). Or ‘all’argentiera‘ (silversmith style). Fried with vinegar. 

Caciocavallo, hung

2. Ricotta cheese (Pronounce as: Re-co-ta)

making ricotta cheese

Making ricotta starts with reheating whey. While the whey reboils -hence the name, ricotta – white curds form. Placed in moulds, they take on the typical shape.

Ricotta is lighter than cottage cheese. But furthermore they are remarkably similar. 

In the kitchen ricotta rules. It’s versatile and easy to use. Cannoli Siciliani and Cassata for dessert. Ricotta and spinach is a happy marriage in the savoury department.

3. Caciotta (Pronounce as: kah cho tah)

This is a young cheese. It matures for about one month. During this time the caciotta ripes, some covered the cheese with fresh leaves. They protect from drying out. And give that extra bit of flavour. 

Caciotta has a very mild, pleasant taste. Success guaranteed when served as starters. But it goes well in sandwiches, too. Caciotta is also used in cooking. In preparing a ‘frittata‘ for example. 

la caciotta, an excellent Sicilian cheese

4. Vastedda (Pronounce as: Vase ted dah)

vastedda Siciliana, a peculiar sheep cheese

This local cheese is made with sheep milk only. The name derives from the Sicilian ‘vasta‘, meaning faulty, spoiled. The summer heat makes cheese swell. It is therefore reboiled and obtains its typical ovoid shape. Sicilians name this shape ‘vastedda’. 

The production takes mainly place in Western Sicily, along the Belice valley.

5. Tuma, young cheese (Pronounce as: Tu mah)

Tuma is pecorino in the earliest stage. Before the cheese is salted and let to rest.

They often mix cow and sheep milk to produce pecorino.

It lasts for about two weeks after production. 

Tuma is versatile. The rather mild taste permits all uses. 

tuma, fresh pecorino cheese

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