The Apulian Canestrato is a mature cheese with low water levels, obtained from sheep's whole milk (Gentile di Puglia). Its name comes from the straw baskets (canestri) in which it is left to mature. It so happens that these baskets called fiscelle, are also one of the most traditional artisanal products in Apulia.
The processing of the Canestrato cheese is made through the use of a characteristic technology derived from Apulian tradition. It can be a very long process depending on the size of the cheese, which can weight between seven and fourteen kilos. During processing the molds are put inside the baskets, which provide the crust's unique wrinkled and rough aspect. They are then pressed to eliminate the humidity. The salting - crucial part in the production of the cheese - is made by spreading sea salt from Margherita di Savoia's salt flats around the cheese. Once out of the baskets, the cheese is left to mature for at least 90 days in a cool place and is turned over and brushed multiples times. After this period the rough and thick crust is soaked in extravirgin olive oil. The total maturing period lasts a minimum of three months for a fresh product and ten for a grating cheese. The flavour is strong and slightly spicy, but every Canestrato has its own unique features because its fragrance changes depending on the kind of pasture and milk, and on the lamb's rennet (which is left to dry with orange and lemon peelings and nettle leaves).