Monte Poro is a highland area that looks out over the Tyrrhenian coast of Calabria, to the south-west of Vibo Valentia. The area has abundant pasture that is remarkable for the great biodiversity of its grasses.
The road to Monte Poro gently rises up to meet a vast, undulating, verdant plateau dotted with small villages, farms and flocks of sheep at just 700 meters above sea level. The fertility of the soil and the mild climate of Monte Poro have lent themselves to human settlement and sheep farming since ancient times. The first written reference to cheese production in this area dates back to the sixteenth century, when the priest Gabriele Barrio wrote in one of his treatises of a fine cascio, or cheese, that was enjoyed throughout Italy. Still today, excellent pecorino cheeses are produced from November to May using the milk of Comisana, Sarda and, in some cases, "Malvizza" sheep (a native population of sheep that do not produce much milk and are difficult to manage but which produce a milk of excellent quality), which are reared in the wild for a large part of the year. The technique is the one that’s common to all Calabrian pecorino cheeses: sheep’s milk (possibly with the addition of goat’s milk) is coagulated with kid or lamb rennet. The paste is broken up into small pieces and placed into strainers without cooking, while the molds are pressed firmly by hand. After the whey is removed from the molds, the cheeses are salted and warmed. The cheese is always dry-salted with sea salt. Next, before the cheese is left to ripen, the crust is rubbed with olive oil and chili pepper, giving the surface of the cheese a distinctive orange color. The height of the heel is approximately 12 centimeters and the diameter is around 18 centimeters. The round cheeses weigh between 1.2 and 2.5 kilograms. The cheese can be eaten after three months’ ripening, but medium ripening (five or six months) or ripening of up to one year brings out the characteristics of the cheese to their best effect. On cutting, the cheese has a slightly open and grainy texture, with a color that ranges from milky white to snow white. The paste, which is fatty as a result of the treatment the crust undergoes, has distinctive aromatic qualities: in some cases it has hints of mint, wild flowers or woodland notes; in others, dry hay, often accompanied by gamy notes. In the mouth it is creamy and pleasantly nutty, with a variably tangy finish.
The cheese is produced from November to May
The Presidium currently involves two small artisan producers, who process the milk of their own sheep and that of several nearby farmers. They are their two cornerstones of the Presidium project in its start-up phase, the goal of which is to promote pecorino outside the area of Monte Poro so that it becomes a resource for the future of this area.
Municipalities of Rombiolo, Nicotera, Zungari, Limbadi, Filandari, Jonadi, Joppolo, Zaccanopoli (province of Vibo Valentia).
Presidium supported by:
La Nostra Tradizione
di Gabriele Crudo
Via Gaetano Salvemini, 4
Tel. +39 389 9210822
Tel. +39 328 8156487