The curd is derived from a particularly long coagulation process, 45-60 minutes, then is broken up with a wooden stick into lumps the size of grains of rice then bathed with boiling water in special cauldrons. Before being placed in reed baskets, peppercorns are added, then it is manually pressed to help separate it from the whey. At this point, the cheese in this shape is “scalded” for about 3 hours with the whey at 85° C. When scalding is finished, the baskets are placed on inclined shelves to help drain the residual whey. The cheeses now have definite shapes and are dry-salted and left to age for a minimum of 4 months. Pecorino al Pepe Calcagno has a hard and compact paste that is ivory white with peppercorns and reddish marbling. At the end of ageing, the rind is a brown colour with a very rough surface due to marks left by the basket. In round shapes weighing 12/14 kg, it is sold cut in vacuum-packed quarters. It is widely appreciated as a table cheese accompanied by bread and olives that enhance its bold flavour and as an ingredient in the preparation of some traditional Sicilian dishes.
PECORINO NERO DI SICILIA is produced with the same technique as Calcagno, except that instead of adding pepper to the curd, it is finely ground then mixed with oil and applied to the rind. This technique allows the pepper to be absorbed during the ageing phase which lasts at least 4 months.