5 Absolutely Delicious Spanish Sheep Cheeses to Try
Spanish sheep cheese is famous around the world for its unique taste and commitment to creating a quality product. Most sheep cheese comes from the central and southern regions of Spain, however the country prides itself on quality cheeses from all over the country. Radiating outwards from Madrid is La Meseta, a high, dry plateau with perfect grazing conditions for sheep. Many of the world’s top sheep cheeses hail from Spain, particularly those from central Spain. Here are 5 sheep cheeses from Spain that you have to do yourself a favor and try.
This is the king of Spanish sheep cheese. Queso manchego comes from the region of La Mancha, famous for its Manchega sheep’s milk, which results in unbeatable cheese. This sheep cheese has strict rules for production to be officially labeled as queso manchego. It has to be produced in La Mancha using whole milk from Manchega sheep, and aged anywhere from 60 days to 2 years. The longer that Manchego cheese cures, it becomes stronger in flavor and firmer in texture. In general, this cheese has a nutty taste, and an aftertaste that is typical of sheep’s milk. It is creamy, but becomes harder with longer aging. This cheese pairs really well with dried fruit or jam.
Torta del Casar
Torta del Casar is from Extremadura, and is made from milk from Merino and Entrefina sheep. It gets its unique taste from the curdling process, in which cardoon thistle is added. This gives the cheese a bit of bitterness, which pairs well with its rich, creamy taste. Torta del Casar is aged for a minimum of 60 days, sometimes longer. The outside becomes hard and crusty as it ages, while the inside stays soft and creamy, almost a liquid. The most traditional way to eat this sheep cheese is to cut off the top and scoop out the cheese inside. You can spread it on bread or fruit, or dip in some picos and eat it directly.
As the name implies, Zamorano cheese comes from Zamora, a province in the Castilla-La Mancha region. Milk from Churra and Castellana sheep perfectly blend to form a sharp, strong cheese. The texture is hard and crumbly, and is often cured to produce a nutty, salty taste. Zamorano is typically aged for about 6-16 months for maximum flavor. You can compare this cheese to that of Paremsano Reggiano or aged cheddar in taste. Even though it’s often compared to Manchego, Zamorano is a bit more intense in flavor and texture.
Another Spanish sheep cheese that you need to try is the soft, light Burgos cheese. It’s very moist and light in both texture and flavor. Burgos isn’t an aged or cured cheese, it’s fresh and made to be enjoyed shortly after production. This cheese is very mild in flavor and pairs well with so many things. Throw it on top of a salad for some extra flavor, or try it with honey and nuts. Also, you can even use Burgos cheese for a nice addition to cheesecake!
Idiazábal arrives to your plate from the País Vasco, bringing with it its signature smoky taste. Latxa and Carranzana sheep provide the milk for this cheese that is then aged between 2-6 months. The resulting taste is nutty, buttery, and smoky. This cheese pairs very nicely with fruit or Spanish membrillo (quince paste).
If you’re eager to try Spanish sheep cheese, join Food Lover Tour to sample some of the best varieties around!