Cheese for the Spaniards is the main food. This food can be eaten without the other or with bread. Even cheese can be a dessert. In Spanish, cheese is called quesos. Each region in Spain produces its own varieties of cheese due to differences in climate, geography and culture.
Each cheese in Spain has its own unique characteristics that influence the finished product, such as the type of milk (cow, sheep, goat or mixed), the production process, history or tradition as well as the aging or preservation process. Most Spanish cheeses are goat or sheep cheese but there is also beef cheese. The following are a variety of famous cheeses from Spain.
Cabrales is a blue cheese or blue cheese that has extraordinary character. This cheese is a handmade cheese on farms in the Picos de Europa mountains in Northern Spain. This cheese ripens in caves ablaze with cold, moist, and salty winds that originate in the Bay of Biscay.
Traditionally, Cabrales gourmet cheese is made from a mixture of goat, sheep and cow’s milk. According to the locals, cow’s milk sours the cheese. In Spain, Cabrales is one of the best blue cheeses. This product offers a variety of flavors depending on the choice of type of milk.
Inside the cave the humidity level is about 90% with the temperature between 8 and 12oC. This is the environment needed to promote the growth of the penicillin spores that give the cheese its green blotches and blue veins.
For the ripening stage in the cave it takes between 2 and 5 months. During this time the cheese is regularly cleaned and turned.
This pale yellow cheese originates from the northwestern corner of Spain in the Galicia region. This rainy area is famous for its livestock. These cattle are raised for meat and cheese making.
These special cows graze across its bright green hills and produce milk for Arzúa. They graze along the banks of the Ulloa River near the town of La Coruña. To make this soft and creamy Arzúa-Ulloa cheese, raw or pasteurized cow’s milk is used and preserved for at least six days.
Although not one of the most popular types of Galician cheese, Arzúa-Ulloa is the most delicious because it is very soft and rich in taste. This cheese can be eaten with a thick slice of bread added with a layer of quince fruit paste which is dark red and tastes sweet.
One of the most famous cheeses from Spain is Manchego. Produced in the La Mancha region from Manchega sheep’s milk, Manchego cheese is certified Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O). The cheese must be at least 30 days old and a maximum of 2 years old.
Manchego is a Spanish cheese with a taste that is not too strong, but very creamy and buttery and pleasant. This cheese goes well with various types of dry ham and wines such as Rioja and cava.
Manchego has four varieties, namely: Semicurado, Fresco, Viejo and Curado. This depends on the age of the cheese. Most Manchegos are made using pasteurized sheep’s milk, but you can also use raw milk which is commonly known as Manchego artesano.
- Torta del casar
Actually most Spanish cheeses are not vegetarian. Like most European cheeses, it requires rennet, an animal enzyme to help separate the curd from the whey. But not so with Torta del Casar. This cheese is made from unpasteurized Merino sheep’s milk to thicken the milk using a local thistle plant.
As a result, this cheese has a slightly bitter taste and a sticky texture. Of course, this makes the cheese unique and even though it has been preserved for at least 2 months, the center is still sticky. This melted cheese with a salty taste can be spread on bread accompanied by a bitter red wine.
Mató is a type of fresh cheese with a sweet taste, not salty and not fermented. This cheese is produced in Catalonia, Spain. Generally this cheese is served as a dessert with jam or honey which is known as mel i mató.
In Catalonia, this cheese is usually sold when it is only a day or two old, when it is removed from the shallow basket after being drained. The appearance of mató will make people think of ricotta, curd cheese, or cottage cheese.
This cheese used to be made from goat’s milk because no one could buy cows. But now this cheese is also made from cow’s milk. During the Middle Ages, Mató was very popular, when it was made plain or flavored with orange blossom.
This famous cheese in Spain comes from Menorca, the second largest Balearic Island between Valencia Coast in Spain and Sardinia Island in Italy. Mahón is an artisan cheese made from raw cow’s milk. Using a special cotton cloth called fogasser, the curd is formed into a square.
For industrially produced Mahón, it is often pasteurized and molded using industrial molds into a classic square. Mahón is the only whole cow’s milk cheese that is made outside of northern Spain.
This cheese has a slight sea flavor due to the salty Mediterranean breeze. Among Spanish chefs, Mahón cheese is very popular. They use it with a variety of ingredients from filling cannelloni pasta to toppings for vegetables.
In Spanish, Tetilla literally means small chest. This is another famous Spanish cheese that comes from the autonomous region of Galicia. This cheese has been certified Denominación de Origen since 1993 and in 1996 received D.O.P certification from the European Union.
Initially, this cheese was only made in small towns such as Curtis, Melide and Arzúa, but now it is produced in more places in Galicia. The cow’s milk used to make Tetilla comes from one of the following three breeds, namely Friesians, Rubia Gallega, and Parda Alpina.
When you see the shape of the cheese, people will understand its name because of its conical appearance. Tetilla cheese weighs between 0.5 and 1.5 kilos and has a buttery and tangy taste with a slight bitter aftertaste.
This cheese is best served as a dessert with dry red wine or Galician white wine such as Albariño or Ribeiro. In addition, this cheese also goes well with quince (a fruit that comes from Asia and the Mediterranean) and biscuits.
This aged cheese can be half-baked or cured depending on how long it is aged. Idiazabal is a famous Spanish cheese made using whole sheep’s milk from the Latxa type. Sometimes also used Carranzana sheep’s milk which is unpasteurized milk.
The most common version of Idiazabal is not smoked, but it can also be smoked late in the ripening process. This cheese, like most other Spanish cheeses, has received P.D.O certification from the European Union.
This cheese is pale yellow in color with a buttery and nutty taste with a hint of smokey. This is because this cheese is kept near the fireplace. Idiazabal smoked cheese in 2013 won a Super Gold medal at the World Cheese Awards. In addition, Idiazabal cheese is considered one of the best cheeses from Spain.
- San Simon da Costa
San Simón da Costa is a cheese made from raw or pasteurized cow’s milk from Galician blond, Friesian and Swiss brown cows raised in the Terra Chá District, in Lugo Province.
This cheese is sold in two versions, a large version with a minimum age of 45 days and a weight between 0.8 and 1.5 kg. While the Bufón are smaller in size and are at least 30 days old and their final weight is between 0.4 and 0.8 kg.
Through the smoking process, this cheese acquires a distinctive ocher yellow color and aroma. This fumigation uses only local birch wood. To inhibit the growth of mold, sometimes the cheese is soaked in olive oil. Young, smoky San Simón da Costa is best eaten with homemade bread and sweet caramel apple jam.
- Nata de Cantabria
Produced in the Cantabria region and in the valleys of the Urdón and Cervera rivers, Nata de Cantabria is a type of hard cheese. Made from unpasteurized Friesian cow’s milk and the cows are raised in the area. It should take at least 7 days for the cheese to ripen and generally take between 14 days and 2 months.
During the ripening period, the cheese is turned over and cleaned regularly. The taste of Nata de Cantabria is a bit sour but buttery and sweet. While the texture is soft, creamy and sturdy, making this cheese melts in the mouth quite easily. Nata de Cantabria has a PDO certificate since 1985 from the EU and is used to cook a variety of dishes.
That’s a line of famous cheeses from Spain that mostly use goat’s or sheep’s milk. But there is also milk made from cow’s milk as well as a mixture of sheep’s, goat’s and cow’s milk. This cheese has become an important part of the Spanish diet.
Some of these cheeses get special certificates issued by the European Union. This famous cheese from Spain can be used to cook a variety of foods. Interested to try it?