Learning More About Marche’s DOP Foods Three Traditional Foods Unique to Marche

In another post, I wrote about the 13 foods from Marche that have one of the special designations (DOP and IGP) and what the designations mean. Here I’m going to write a little more about the 3 DOP products that are unique to Marche. All three are from the province of Pesaro e Urbino, in the north of Marche. I’ll write about the other products, and more, in subsequent posts.

As of now, I’m going to need to base my descriptions primarily on information from the website of Marche Tourism and those of the locales and the producers.

Casciotta d’Urbino DOP

“There are a thousand types of casciotta cheeses made in central Italy. but only one Casciotta d’Urbino.” So starts the description of the cheese on the website of the consortium of Casciotta d’Urbino producers.

Casciotta d'Urbino DOP
Casciotta d’Urbino
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Sagra Casciotta Ticket
Sagra di Casciotta Ticket
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It may sound like marketing fluff, but the distinction of DOP which it has received indicates that experts in Italian food have singled it out as a special type of Casciotta. It is described as a sweet cheese, tasting of the milk it is made from. It’s very soft and spreadable.

The cheese is made following a method more than 2000 years old. It starts with a mixture of 70-80% sheep milk and the remainder from cows. After pasteurization, the milk is heated to body temperature and the fermentation begins. After the curds form, it is drained and put into molds, which yield cheeses about 5-6 inches long, 2-3 inches long, and weighing 1.5-2 pounds. The aging lasts only 20-30 days.

Two fun facts:

  • It gained its fame throughout Italy in the 1300s. It is said to have been a favorite of Michelangelo and our man Pope Clement XIV.
  • The correct spelling of the name of the cheese is “caciotta“, not “casciotta“, with the “s”. An official made the spelling error and the name remains.

The recommendation is to drink a young, fruity white or rose.

The sagra is in late April.

Prosciutto di Carpegna DOP

Carpegna is a comune on the northern edge of Marche, near Emilia-Romagna. It sits on the edge of a large mountain park, Parco Naturale Regionale di Sasso Simone e Simoncello. Though the comune is only 30km2 (11 mi2), it’s the only area that can produce this DOP prosciutto. There are two variations: San Leo, delicate, and La Ghianda, more intense and aromatic.

Location of Carpegna
Prosciutto di Carpegna
Slicing Proscuitto di Carpegna
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Carpegna ham advertisement
An Interesting Ad

Being near the mountains, Carpegna is at an altitude of about 750m (2500 ft). It’s said that a key element in what makes Carpegna ham special is the microclimate. Temperatures are moderate summer and winter and humidity is low.

Said to have a sweet aroma and taste, the ham has been produced here since at least the 1400s. Using a special method of seasoning applied to the meat from hogs fed on acorns, it was produced only in small quantities until the 1970s, when production started to be more commercial.

After a seasoning process of about 20 days, the prosciutto is aged for at least a year. The result is meat of color ranging from dark red to pink, surrounded by a layer of pure white fat. Each ham weighs between 8.5 and 10.5 kg (19-23 lb)

A wine merchant site recommends the red Lacrima di Morro d’Alba as the proper wine.

The sagra is the third weekend in July.

The consortium uses some “interesting” advertising, judging from the image at the right. Not only is the picture suggestive, the caption reads, “Only son.”

L’Olio Extravergine di Cartoceto DOP

It’s hard to say much about what distinguishes this oil from other Italian extra-virgin olive oils, especially the DOP ones.

A production factor noted on the website of the corsortium is that the oil is made only from the olive fruits and not from the pits, but I’d guess this is true for all DOP olive oils.

Also, the olives need to be gathered by hand, by a long-handled rake-type device, or by shaking the tree, and not touch the ground. All that can be done “pre-processing” is to separate out the foliage and wash the fruit. Oil need to be processed within 48 hours of picking.

Oil from the fruit is made by simply grinding the fruit, pressing it, keeping the temperature below 25°C (77°F), extracting the solids and water via centrifuge, and filtration. No heat, no chemicals, no second or third pressing.

Getting oil from the pits is a more involved process that uses chemicals and which includes heating, cooling, and steaming.

Leccino olive

Raggiola olive

Frantoio olive

The varieties of olives used in this region vary from others, which is what probably makes the Cartoceto oil special. The formulation is at least 80% oil from three varieties: Leccino (harvested in late October, lightly fruity and sweet), Raggiola (harvested in early November, more fruity and herbaceous), and Frantoio (harvested in late November. adds an almond-like note). The remainder, up to 20%, can come from a selection of 7 other cultivars. The DOP region where the olives come from and where the processing is done covers only 5 comunes in Pesaro e Urbino, in the north of Marche.

The consortium’s FAQ has some interesting notes:

  • The oil can be kept for up to 2 years, but it’s best in the first year, as the decline in quality starts after about 8 months.
  • It should be stored in stainless steel or glass and kept from the light.
  • Very fresh oil sometimes can cause a little “bite” in the throat.
  • Color has nothing to do with quality. (It apparently starts out green and turns to golden yellow.)
  • There are two main classes of this olive oil: fruttato – fruity, smooth flavor, no bitter odor, and verde – the younger oil with a more herbaceous aroma.

Sagra is in early November.

Three DOP Products from Pesaro e Urbino

Click to enlarge, zoom, and move
Pin A: Casa Avventura
Pin B: Casciotta d'Urbino
Pin C: Proscuitto di Carpegna
Pin D: Olio di Cartoceto

Click to open a larger map

Casciotta picture: | http://www.turismo.marche.it/Turismi/Made-in-Marche/C1/2
Casciotta sagra ticket: | http://www.eventiesagre.it/Eventi_Enogastronomici/21052756_Festival+Della+Casciotta+D+Urbino.html
Carpegna map: | http://www.topofthedop.it/salumi-prosciutto-carpegna.php
First ham image: Carpegna Turismo | http://www.carpegnaturismo.it/
Carpegna ad: | http://www.carpegna.com
Three olive varities: Consorzio Olio DOP Cartoceto | http://www.oliocartocetodop.it/page-with-sidebar/olive-da-cui-si-estrae-lolio-d-o-p-cartoceto/
Map icon source: Maps Icons Collection | https://mapicons.mapsmarker.com

For more information:
Confederazione Italiana Agricoltori delle Marche (In Italian) | http://www.ciamarche.org/banca-dati-cia-marche

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