Casciotta di Urbino, from the term “cascio”, is a cheese with an ancient past. It was produced and consumed during the time of the Dukes of Montefeltro, when it was used for barter. It is said that even Michelangelo liked Casciotta di Urbino quite a lot and bought it regularly.
This cheese is made with milk from sheep raised in the provinces of Pesaro and Urbino. It is the only DOP cheese made in the Marche region of Italy. Actually, the Marche is an area rich in natural pastures that vary from low prairies to high plateaus and even mountain pastures.
In this varied and rich agricultural territory, you can find herds of sheep. Originally they were heritage breeds like the appeninica or the bruna, but nowadays most of the sheep are of Sardinian breed due to their ability to produce more milk.
Casciotta di Urbino DOP
Casciotta di Urbino is made with 70-80% whole sheep’s milk and the remainder is cow’s milk from two milkings. The sheep’s milk is refrigerated at 39°F and all impurities are removed. It is mixed with the cow’s milk and coagulated using natural veal rennet at 95°-100°F.
After the curd is broken, the mass is placed in molds. Traditionally, the molds were made using natural materials like wicker, wood, clay or terracotta. The cheese is then pressed by hand to squeeze out the whey and the molds are turned by hand many times. The salting can be done by hand or the wheels can be immersed in brine. The cheese is aged for 20 to 30 days in rooms that are 50°-57°F with 80-90% humidity.
The rind is treated with a clear wax to prohibit the formation of mold. The finished product is cylindrical in shape and is 2-3 in high, 5-6 in wide and weighs between 1.8 to 2.6 lbs. The rind is thin and straw yellow colored. The paste is soft, fatty and friable with a few small holes. It should have a light straw color and a sweet flavor.
Casciotta is traditionally served with salumi and rustic bread. It pairs well with honey, fruit and preserves. It can also be used to make sauces and fillings or mixed into pasta dishes.