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The Root 100—A Celebration of Black Excellence

These artisans are saving the traditional roots of Tuscany's favorite cheese

Pienza, Italy is a Tuscan town in between wine giants Montalcino and Montepulciano, but what it is known for is its rich pecorino cheese, Pecorino di Pienza, made of 100% sheep’s milk.

In its oldest and truest form, pecorino is a seasonal cheese, made in line with nature’s rhythms. That means that, traditionally, fresh pecorino was available only in the summer since sheep give birth in late winter or early spring. However, over time, advancements in industrial cheese-making has allowed our grocery shelves to be stocked with pecorino all year round.

Yet, there are still some artisans, like Sandra Schmidig and her husband Ulisse of Podere il Casale, who continue to produce pecorino in its natural form. Zak the Baker visits their farm to learn more about how they are raising their sheep with the seasons, feeding them local grass, milking them by hand, and transforming the raw milk into a creamy, nutty, and deeply flavorful cheese.

The Artisans of Italy” is a Fusion digital series hosted by Zak the Baker, in which he travels across Italy in search of modern-day artisans. From cheesemongers to the makers of balsamic vinegar, prosciutto, and wine, this series is about discovering the craftsmen behind some of our favorite products and finding out how these traditions began.

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