Fiore Sardo was once "the" cheese among Sardinia’s shepherds; it remained the most-produced cheese on the island until the transformation of milk passed from the shepherds to the industrialists and Pecorino Romano became the most important cheese in Sardinia. The name fiore (“flower”) seems to derive from the historical use of thistle flowers as a source of rennet, but other testimonies indicate the wooden molds used to make the cheese had the design of a flower (similar to an asphodel or peony) carved in them. Each producer or municipality was recognizable thanks to these various designs.
Fiore Sardo is a cheese with a long history and a strong, distinctive flavor. It is the typical product of the sheep-raising communities of the inland areas of Sardinia, particularly Barbagia, a mountainous area in Nuoro Province. The traditional production technique has remained essentially unchanged for centuries: Just after milking, the raw, whole milk of Sarda sheep is placed in copper boilers and coagulated at a temperature of 32-35 °C using lamb rennet normally produced by the shepherd himself. After 20-30 minutes, according to the season, the curd is broken into particles the size of a grain of rice and left to settle at the bottom of the pot. The curd is then patiently collected from the bottom of the boiler and deposited in the characteristic molds. At this point the shepherd-cheesemaker shapes and applies pressure to the curd, purging as much whey as possible. When the mass is firm, it is extracted from the mold and left to rest for about 24 hours, after which it is immersed in the brine, where it remains for 8-12 hours per kilogram of cheese. Next, the cheeses are placed on wooden or woven cane racks (cannizza) near a fire, where they dry and smoke for about 2 weeks. Finally, they mature for several months (the exact period depends on the producer and style) on the ground in a cool, dry room. Once the right degree of ripeness is reached, the cheeses are periodically greased with a mixture of wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt. This process is simple but it requires extraordinary attention by the cheesemaker, slow gestures, and a lot of patience. Fiore Sardo was made in order to have cheese during the dry season, when the sheep do not produce milk.
Production from December to June with an aging period of at least four months.
Barbagia Municipality, Nuoro Province
Presidium supported by
Gal Barbagie and Mandrolisai, Sardinian Regional Department of Agriculture and Agro-Pastoral Reform
tel. +39 0784 51105 - 329 4749566
tel. +39 331 3487608
tel. +39 349 7478338
tel. +39 329 4749566
Slow Food Presidium Coordinator
Tel. +39 0784 35357