Formaggio Ragusano DOP
Ragusano is a semi-hard cheese made from pasta filata (pulled-curd). It is rectangular in shape and is sold at different stages of aging. It is made with whole milk from modicana breed cows, raised exclusively of fresh grass or hay in the provinces of Ragusa and Siracusa, Sicily.
The curd from the milk is stretched or pulled and the resulting cheese can be eaten fresh (for a sweet, delicate flavor), aged from four months to a year or more (for a more flavorful and spicy taste) or smoked. The blocks of cheese weigh between 6 and 40 lbs, and have indentations from the cords used to hold them up in pairs along wooden beams during the aging process. Documents from the 16th century show that Ragusano has been made and exported to other countries for centuries and was once considered a valuable product for barter.
In Sicily, the cheese, also called scaluni in dialect because it looks like step of a staircase, is considered a symbol of tradition and authenticity. It has been recognized as a product typical of Sicily since 1955 and in 1996 Ragusano received the DOP – Protected Denomination of Origin – recognition. Ragusano DOP has a unique flavor and can be used in various Sicilian preparations. The less aged cheese can be paired with Marsala wine, while the older cheeses can be served with Enta Rosso.