Primo Sale literally means “first salt” in Italian and is used to describe a very young cheese in the early stages of maturation. The name technically describes a specific period in cheese production: the first salting. Before salting, the same cheese is called Tumazzu, while after maturation, it’s called Canestrato or Vastedda.
Primo Sale cheese, specifically Primo Sale Pecorino (sheep milk cheese), is a regional specialty of Sardinia and Sicily. It’s a young cheese, aged between 15 and 60 days, that quickly develops a semi-hard or hard, somewhat crunchy texture and a thin, edible rind despite a relatively short aging period. Primo sale cheese color ranges between dark, ivory white, and pale straw yellow, with the rind about a tone paler than the paste. The cheese has a relatively straightforward taste without much complexity: it’s most reminiscent of fresh milk, mildly sweet but with a distinctly tangy, somewhat sour aftertaste. Plain Primo Sale is commonly served thinly sliced and seasoned with olive oil, mint, and pepper to augment the flavor.
That said, blending Primo Sale cheese with various flavoring elements, such as herbs, nuts, truffles, etc., is common to augment the taste. The blended varieties usually have a more robust and distinct flavor.