VARIETY OF SPANISH CHEESES AND THEIR CHARACTERISTICS
Cheese production in Spain dates back to the nomadic peoples and nowadays there is a wide variety of cheeses distributed throughout Spain. Today we can say that more than 150 different types of cheese are produced and there are 32 cheeses with Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.), some of them of international renown.
The Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.) is regulated by a Regulatory Council to guarantee high quality products linked to the geographical environment from which they originate. It is important to maintain manufacturing standards.
So much variety of cheese is due to the different conditions of orography, soil, climate and predominant livestock in each geographical area.
These conditions determine the different characteristics of the cheeses with factors such as the type of milk, amount of fat, ripening, method of production, type of rind, consistency.
VARIETY OF SPANISH CHEESES ACCORDING TO MILK TYPE
We can distinguish 4 types of Spanish cheeses according to the milk used in their production:
COW MILK: These are soft and creamy cheeses. They are mainly produced in the north of Spain such as Galicia, Asturias or Cantabria. We have for example the Tetilla cheese or the Simón da Costa cheese.
SHEEP MILK: these cheeses are more aromatic, acidic and salty. They contain a lot of proteins and vitamins. They are typical of Castile, Extremadura, the Basque Country and Navarre. Some examples are Torta del Casar, Idiazábal or Manchego, among others.
GOAT MILK: These are cheeses with a stronger and more acidic flavour, with fewer calories and less saturated fats. The best known of this type are from Andalusia, Levante or the Canary Islands: cheeses from Tiétar, Sierra Morena, Las Alpujarras, Serranía de Ronda... such as Payoyo or Majorero.
MIX: Many Spanish cheeses are made by mixing cow's, sheep's and goat's milk. They are produced all over the country. Some of them are Cabrales, Gamoneu, etc.
VARIETY OF CHEESES ACCORDING TO RIPENING PERIOD
The ripening period refers to the time during which the cheese remains at room temperature and under specific conditions after being made.
FRESH CHEESES: these are soft cheeses that have hardly been matured. These types of cheeses, which have a ripening period of less than one month, are also known as soft cheeses. They are products that have less fat and more water. This is why it lasts less time as it deteriorates more quickly.
SEMI-CURED CHEESES: this type of cheese has been matured for between 2 and 3 months. They are a little stronger than fresh cheese and have a slightly harder texture. They contain a lot of water.
CURED CHEESES: these products have a ripening period of between 4 and 7 months. They are much stronger than the previous ones and contain little water, and are more fatty.
OLD CHEESES: these products are matured for more than 7 months. They have a very intense flavour and a more rigid surface.
VARIETY OF CHEESES ACCORDING TO THE AMOUNT OF FAT
Cheese is a source of protein, vitamins and calcium, but it also contains fat, so we are going to classify them into:
DESNATADOS: Those containing less than 10% fat. For example, cottage cheese
SEMIDESNATADOS: contain between 10-24.9% fat, such as Burgos cheese.
SEMI-FAT: those containing between 25-29.9% fat, such as blue cheese or Manchego cheese,
FATTY: those cheeses that contain between 30-60% fat. Examples include Cabrales cheese, among others.
EXTRA FAT: this type of cheese exceeds 60% fat. Such as cheese spreads
These characteristics are the most significant when choosing a cheese. Each one of them provides us with different properties, now all we have to do is choose which one we like best.
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