Types of Spanish Cheese
Spain is a country of varied terrain and climate, so it’s not surprising that it produces at least 100 separate recognized and named cheeses. Each cheese has a unique identity depending on the type and breed of animal, the wild herbs and grass it grazes on and the traditional production methods used to make the cheese. From the famed sheep’s milk Manchego cheese of La Mancha, to the smooth rich cow’s milk Cantabria from the north of Spain, there are Spanish cheeses for every palate.
Cheeses can be fresh, semi-cured or cured, with the flavour growing progressively stronger and more complex as they mature. Spain also has several blue cheeses, some aged in caves to produce unique blue veins of mould.
Here we’ll list just a few of the Denominacion de Origen (D.O.) cheeses to give a taste of the range of Spanish cheeses available:
Sheep’s milk cheeses
Manchego, is made from the whole milk of the pure bred Manchego sheep from La Mancha. It can be sold in three versions:
Fresco – the fresh cheese is aged for only 2 weeks, with a rich but mild flavour. Produced in small quantities it is rarely found outside Spain.
Curado is a semi-firm cheese aged for three to six months with a sweet and nutty flavour. It melts well and is often used in quesadillas.
Viejo, aged for one year is firm with a sharper flavour the longer it is aged and a rich deep pepperiness to it. It grates well but can also be eaten on its own or as tapas.
Idiazabal is a semi-cured or cured cheese from the Basque country with a robust flavour, which can be smoked on the outside.
Other Spanish sheep’s milk cheeses to look out for: Roncal, La Serena, Zamorano, Nevat and Mirableu
Cow’s milk cheeses
Cabrales is the renowned Spanish blue cheese. It can be pure cow’s milk or blended with sheep and goats milk in spring and summer. It is produced by small dairy farmers in the Picos de Europa and is aged in natural limestone caves in the mountains where it develops its rich blue veins of penicillum.
Other Spanish cow’s milk cheeses to look out for: Tetilla, Mahon and Cantabria
Goat’s milk cheese
Murcia al Vino is a firm cheese made from the milk of Murciano-Granadina goats. It is washed in red wine to give it a characteristic dark rind and floral aroma.
Other Spanish goat's milk cheese to look out for: Majorero and Ibores.
There are also some notable Spanish cheeses made with a blend of milks from all three animals or just cow and sheep, among them: Iberico, Picon, Quesucos de Liebana and Campo de Montalba