Belicino is a cheese, recognized as a typical Sicilian product which is, in fact, included in the list of traditional agri-food products (PAT) drawn up by the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies (Mipaaf).
Origins and History –
Belicino has a relatively recent history as its origin dates back to the immediate post-war period, from which an increasingly convinced production began until it was recognized as P.A.T..
This cheese was produced for the first time between 1945 and 1950 in the province of Trapani and given its success, it was gradually re-proposed in large quantities.
Geographic area –
Belicino is produced in an area that goes from the province of Trapani and which includes the Municipalities of: Calatafimi, Campobello di Mazara, Castelvetrano, Petrosino, Poggioreale, Salaparuta, S. Ninfa, Gibellina, Poggioreale and Salemi and in the Belice Valley in the province of Agrigento, in the Municipalities of Santa Margherita di Belìce and Montevago.
Raw material –
The raw materials with which this cheese is made are: Valle del Belice sheep’s milk and Nocellara del Belice olives. The paste, semi-cooked and semi-hard, includes olives treated and ripened in brine.
Belicino cheese is presented as a cheese without rind, with a semi-hard and compact texture, without holes and with the evident presence of olives treated in brine inside.
It has a cylindrical shape, with flat faces and a slightly convex heel. The wheels produced have a weight that varies from one to five kilograms.
The color is white, also due to the absence of seasoning; in fact, the Belicino, immediately after salting, can already be consumed.
It is a cheese with a delicate flavor and aroma precisely due to the absence of maturing.
For the preparation of Belicino cheese, the following procedure is followed.
Sheep’s milk at 36 °C is combined with lamb rennet paste; then the curd is broken into very small pieces, the size of a lentil; at this point water at 60 degrees is added to the pasta; then the pitted olives are added, placing everything in rush baskets (according to tradition); finally, the wheels are immersed in the residual ricotta product for 4 hours and then salted in brine.
After about 4 hours you will already have an excellent cheese ready to be enjoyed with its very special flavour.
Gastronomic use –
Belicino cheese can be eaten fresh but after the 24-hour drying phase.
The flavor given by the absence of aging makes it particularly suitable for pairing with white wines.
On the palate it is fat and fresh.