Canestrato Pugliese

Ark of taste
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Canestrato Pugliese is a fundamental part of Puglia’s cheesemaking heritage, as it is closely bound up with the traditional movement of flocks to summer pastures, which took place right up to the end of the 1950s. Raw milk from two milkings, drawn from sheep fed with fodder grown in the production zone, is heated to a temperature of 37°C and inoculated with liquid calf’s or lamb’s rennet. After about 20 minutes, the soft curd is cut and then usually semi-cooked at a temperature of 42°C. It is put in rush baskets, pressed by hand, cooked in boiling whey and dry-salted on the following day by sprinkling it with coarse sea salt. Canestrato Pugliese can be aged for up to ten months on wooden boards in caves or cool, dry cellars. During the ageing process, the outer rind is treated with olive oil and, in some cases, with wine vinegar. Gold in colour on the outside, the cheese is straw-yellow inside. The body is crumbly and firm in texture with small eyes and has a fairly tangy taste. Canestrato Pugliese is used predominantly for grating over a variety of first courses, including orecchiette, capunti, and other traditional types of pasta from the region. It is also an ingredient in a range of typical regional dishes, including artichokes, lampascioni in umido (stewed small, bitterish onions), involtini (rolled slices) of lamb and many others. Canestrato Pugliese takes it name from the traditional practice of shaping the cheese in rush baskets. These “canestri” are responsible for the marks on the outer rind, which is hard and yellow-brown in colour. It generally features a flat top and bottom, 14-34 cm in diameter, and it is 10-14 cm higw, with a weight of 2 to 14 kg.It is producee in the entire province of Foggia and many other neighbouring municipalities.

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