Pecorino Romano is a hard Italian cheese made with sheep’s milk. It has a flaky, somewhat grainy texture and a salty, nutty, sharp flavor. It’s the perfect cheese for grating on top of most Italian dishes, especially Pasta alla Carbonara, Quattro Formaggi Pizza, and Parmigiana di Melanzane.
Unlike Parmigiano-Reggiano (parmesan), which is carried by most retailers like Costco, Walmart, and Kroger, vacuum packed Pecorino Romano wedges are surprisingly hard to find. Whenever I can’t go to the Italian deli in town, I tend to shop for Italian-imported Pecorino Romano at Amazon.
Buying Pecorino Romano Cheese
Before I even get to the topic of storage, here comes my first tip: Buy small pieces of Pecorino Romano cheese that you can eat over the course of two-three meals.
If you want to take advantage of a discount and buy a large quantity of cheese on a bargain, check if you can get the cheese in the form of multiple vacuum sealed wedges instead of a single piece.
I know it sounds obvious to some of you, but I’m telling you this out of experience. The easiest way to keep a vacuum sealed piece of cheese fresh is to not open it at all in the first place. The smaller the pieces, the easier it is for you to ration them out with your cooking.
But here’s the thing… Knowing how to store Pecorino Romano cheese is just as important as where and how to buy it. Unless we’re talking about blue cheese here (and we’re not), nobody likes cheese that’s sweaty and moldy.
So, in this post, I’m going to give you my best tips for storing Pecorino Romano cheese.
Storing Pecorino-Romano Cheese
Ask any cheese expert about the best way to store cheese, and they can go on explaining to you for hours how a block of cheese—any cheese—should be kept in a humid environment and always be given the opportunity to breathe. At least this is the conclusion that Cook’s Illustrated magazine came to when they did so.
I’m no cheese expert, but I remember how my great grandparents used to make cheese in their country home. And they’d always wrap it tightly in butcher paper and store it in the cellar. Growing up, I kept the butcher paper and kept my cheese in the fridge instead.
When it comes to Pecorino Romano cheese, my storage technique is simple:
To store Pecorino Romano cheese, wrap it tightly in parchment paper, wax paper, or butcher paper and store it in the cheese drawer or vegetable crisper in your fridge. With this technique, the cheese will stay good for 2-3 weeks (turning dry and hard after).
Some will tell you to wrap the cheese in paper first, then wrap it again in aluminum foil. Others will preach about the merits of plastic wrap. Don’t listen to them.
I’ve been storing Pecorino Romano cheese wedges in my fridge with this technique from the first time I bought one—and it has always worked.
Do you know what I like the most about it? It’s that the cheese will turn hard. And you can always salvage it by grating it on top of a dish and finishing it off for a few minutes in the oven.
That’s not going to happen if you put the cheese in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Because, by the third or fourth week, the cheese will have turned unappetizingly soggy and mushy.
All the Methods for Storing Pecorino Romano Cheese
Yes, I already gave you my favorite method. Why would I write about any others?
If there’s one thing I like to do on this blog, it’s to help you come to your own conclusions. Because what works for and makes sense to me may not necessarily be the same for you—and vise-versa.
So I’m going to give you all the storage techniques for Pecorino Romano cheese that I know of, along with the storage times that I (and other home cooks on the Internet) claim you can achieve with them.
|Storage Method||Storage Location||Storage Time|
|Wrapped in parchment paper, wax paper, or butcher paper||In the fridge||Good for 2-3 weeks, then turns very dry|
|Wrapper in paper, then in aluminum foil||In the fridge||Good for 1-2 weeks, then turns slightly dry|
|Wrapped in paper, then in plastic wrap||In the fridge||Good for 1-2 weeks, then turns sweaty and sour|
|Inside a sealed ziplock bag||In the fridge||Good for 2-3 weeks, then turns sweaty and sour|
|Inside a sealed food storage container||In the fridge||Good for 2-3 weeks, then turns sweaty and sour|
|Inside a sealed freezer bag||In the freezer||Good indefinitely, but will keep its best quality for 6-9 months|
Which storage method is your favorite? And why? Let me and the rest of this post’s readers know by leaving a comment below.
Can You Freeze Pecorino Romano Cheese?
Yes, you can freeze Pecorino Romano cheese for long-term storage. While frozen cheese will stay good in your freezer indefinitely, its texture, and aroma, flavor will slowly degrade over time.
It’s easiest to freeze unopened vacuum sealed wedges of cheese. Simply put it in the freezer and it will keep its best quality for 6-9 months.
Put opened pieces of cheese inside a freezer bag, squeezing as much of the air as you can out and making sure that you’ve properly sealed it before putting it in the freezer. This step is very, very important—otherwise, the cheese will pick up unpleasant smells from the rest of the items in your fridge.
Where Pecorino Romano Cheese Comes From
The recipe for Pecorino Romano cheese dates back to Ancient Rome.
In 100 BC, Roman scholar and author Marcus Tretius Varro wrote about Pecorino Romano cheese as essential for the rations of the Roman legion as it provided the fat, protein, and salt for feeding hungry soldiers on the go.
Traditionally, Italians in the capital city of Rome and its surrounding villages in the Lazio region made Pecorino Romano cheese from the raw milk of the sheep that they bred in their yards.
Today, cheese producers make Pecorino Romano cheese from raw or thermized sheep’s milk mixed with a natural culture, “scotta fermento,” produced by acidifying “scotta,” the whey that’s obtained from the production of ricotta cheese.
What Does “Pecorino Romano PDO” Stand For?
The so-called Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) is a certification seal given out by the European Union (EU) to authentic European foods, condiments, and drinks made in restricted geographical areas following traditional ways.
Think of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) as a quality seal that guarantees you’re getting the real product out of Europe.
You’ll typically find it on the front side of packaged Pecorino Romano cheese wedges. If you’re buying cheese by the pound online, look for the PDO abbreviation in the name or description in the online store.
Here’s how the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) seal looks like:
Pecorino Romano cheese that carries the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) seal is still made exclusively in this geographic area and strictly following the traditional recipe. To buy the most authentic and traditional Pecorino Romano, always look for the PDO seal.
Cheeses that don’t carry the PDO stamp are usually sold as “pecorino” or “romano” cheese. While these cheeses are less pricey than Pecorino Romano PDO, their production, aging, and quality controls don’t conform to the same strict requirements as the original. This means you get a cheese with a subpar texture, aroma, and smell.
With its distinct smell and strong taste, Pecorino Romano cheese is amazing for grating on Italian dishes. And, as long as you know how to store it correctly, an opened pack of Pecorino Romano can stay good for as much as 2-3 weeks in the fridge.
What’s your top takeaway from this post? And do you have any tips for buying, storing, and eating Pecorino Romano cheese that you’d like to share with the rest of this post’s readers?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
What to Read Next
If you’re out of Pecorino Romano cheese but you’re really craving a hearty plate of Pasta alla Carbonara, check out my list of the best Pecorino Romano substitutes.
For the curious of you, here’s my comparison of Pecorino Romano vs. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The differences are more than you probably think.