PIACENTINU ENNESE PDO
The origin of the production of Piacentinu Ennese DOP is linked both to the dairy activity of sheep’s milk, already widespread in antiquity, and to the cultivation of saffron. Legend has it that the addition of saffron to milk in the production phase is due to the Norman domination period (11th century).
The story goes that Roger the Norman to cure his wife, Adelasia, suffering from a strong depression and at a same time lover of cheeses, had a cheese prepared with revitalizing qualities. Saffron has in fact always been famous for its energising properties.
The production area of Piacentinu Ennese AOP includes the entire territory of the municipalities of Enna, Aidone, Assoro, Barrafranca, Calascibetta, Piazza Armerina, Valguarnera und Villarosa in the province of Enna, in the Sicily region.
Sheep milk from one or two successive milkings is used, processed within 24 hours. The milk is brought to cooking temperature (38 °C) and is transferred to the vat (wooden container) inside which saffron and rennet are added. Rennet paste from lambs and kids reared in the production area is used.
Saffron is also locally produced and is characterised by a high content of crocin and picrocrocin, which gives an intense and characteristic.
After coagulation, the curd is broken with a stick (patella) until the grains are the size of a grain of rice. After the agglomeration of the granules, a caseous mass is formed which is transferred over a wooden or steel table and is subsequently cut and distributed in rattan baskets.
Before putting into shape in the rattan baskets, black pepper grains are also added to the curd. A manual pressing is then carried out to facilitate the bleeding of the whey. The baskets containing the cheese mass are then inserted into the vat and covered with a hot sheet for 3-4 hours.
Subsequently, the pasta is extracted and left to cool and then uniformly sprinkled with coarse-grained salt (dry salting). This operation is repeated twice at a distance of 10 days from each other. The seasoning period lasts at least 60 days.