canestrato

Canestrato Pugliese is a partially cooked hard cheese from Puglia made from the milk of sheep that graze in the Alta Murgia plateau. Its name derives from the canestre (baskets) in which the cheese was placed for aging by the nomadic sheep herders that pioneered its production. The cheese (aged 2-4 months) is treated with olive oil to bring out the basket lines visible on the surface above. It is the only cheese in the region officially recognized as a DOP, a guarantee that the product conforms to certain rules and regulations. That is, it can only be obtained from the milk of free-range ewes that graze in a delimited area of the Alta Murgia, it uses only natural rennet, and must be aged for at least 2 months. The resulting Canestrato Pugliese is compact, sharp, and friable. Pair with Aglianico del Vulture, a red wine produced in nearby Basilicata.