The Pallone di Gravina is made from cow’s milk, and is firm in texture. The cheese comes from the regions of Basilicata and Apulia in southeast Italy and dates back to the days when the livestock was migrated from place to place. The term ‘Pallone’ comes from the word ‘palla’, the round ball-like shape of the cheese, which makes it easier to hang them in caves or transport over the backs of the donkeys during the livestock migration or the transhumance. The cheese is made in the style of pasta filata, and generally weights between 1.5 and 2.5 kg. It is shaped like a balloon, and was traditionally created in the city of Gravina, in the province of Bari. However, in the recent times the cheese is produced only in the regions of the province of Matera. The rind of the cheese is straw-coloured, smooth and hard. It becomes browner as it ages, and turns golden when the cheese gets fully matured. It needs to be aged for at least twelve months before it reaches maturity. The process of making this cheese starts with warming and curdling with rennet and then they are placed in a tompagno, which is a perforated basket. After some hours the sets are sliced up and ‘spun’ in hot water. The portions of cheese are then moulded manually, and after salting in brine for 12 to 20 hours, they are allowed to dry. In 2009 the comune of Gravina made an application for the cheese to receive PDO status within the European Union.
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