Different Types of Spanish Cheese

Different Types of Spanish Cheese

All About Spanish Cheese

Spanish cheese is delicious and with 13 kinds of cheese known to have originated in Spain, it’s easy to see why quality cheese production is a serious matter in Spain. Most people that live in Spain eat cheese every day and each region in Spain produces several different varieties of cheese.

Spanish cheese has unique characteristics that are related to the type of milk that is used, the way the cheese is produced, and the aging or curing process. It is also classified as light, medium, or strong. The type of milk and the curing or aging process determines the category the cheese falls into. Strong and flavored cheeses tend to have a longer curing process and use either sheep’s milk or a mixture. The lightest or mildest cheese comes from cow’s milk.

Spanish Cheese Assortment 2 Pound Hand Cut Imported from Spain

The flavors of Spanish cheese is created through the aging process, the geographical region where the cheese originated from, and the type of milk. Though soft cheeses are customarily made from cow’s milk, other cheeses use milk from sheep, goats, cows, or a combination of all three.

Storing Spanish Cheese

Before you buy any fresh or cured cheese, make sure you understand how to rinse and dry it. Buying cheese in wheels is not the same as buying a small chunk in the grocery store or a package of slices from Kraft. Cured cheese should be placed in a large pot with enough water to cover it. Scrub it with a small vegetable brush before removing the cheese and drying it completely with a kitchen towel. You can freeze some kinds of cheese as long as they are fresh or semi-cured cheeses that you have cut into pieces. You should not freeze cured cheeses.

Storing cheese is quite easy-keep it cool and dry. Plastic wrap is a good idea, and the lower part of the refrigerator is usually best. Keep your cheese at around 45-50 degrees for the best storage. Remember, cheese melts easily! Although mold can be cut away from cheese or, in some cases, eaten, aging a cheese longer or improperly can drastically change the taste.

Spanish Cheese Assortment 2 Pound Hand Cut Imported from Spain

Goat’s Milk Cheese

Although cows produce most of the milk used for cheese, using goat’s milk for cheese is still very popular in Spain. Some of the major varieties being Cassoleta, Alicante, Servilleta, and Nucia.

Sheep’s Milk Cheese

Cheese made from sheep’s milk is produced in all regions of Spain. Although not as popular, they can still be quite tasty. Try types such as Zamorana, the most classic of the Spanish sheep’s milk cheeses. Zamorano cheese mainly comes from the Churra sheep and is produced with full cream, making it a very rich product. Other important types of cheese made from sheep milk include Manchego, Burgos, Tora del Casar, La Serena, Latxa, Roncal, Idiazabal, Tupi, Gaztazarra, Picanon, and Serrat.

Mixed Milk Cheeses

Of course, some cheesemakers like to blend different kinds of milk to produce other flavors in their cheeses. Cow’s milk is usually the base ingredient, and the basic rule of cheese making is that more cow’s milk will make a simpler cheese while more sheep’s milk will make a more complex cheese. Sheep’s milk is typically seen as “better,” and will make a cheese creamier and more expensive. The most well-known of the mixed milk cheeses from Spain is Iberico, but Mesta and Hispanico are also very popular.

Spanish Cheese Assortment (30 ounce)

Buying Spanish Cheese

There are many different websites that sell Spanish cheese, but the one downfall of buying cheese online is that you can’t taste test. If you’ve never tried Spanish cheese, you may want to obtain some samples before you buy a large amount and find that you don’t like it.

Cooking with Spanish Cheese

When you’re trying new recipes, it’s also nice to experiment with cheese. If the recipe calls for one type of cheese, try a different one for a new take on the old taste. This is especially helpful if you find a cheese that you really don’t like-instead of not making the recipe at all, try it with a cheese you do like instead. When substituting cheeses, look for cheeses that have some of the same qualities, especially in melting. Cooking isn’t a science like you’ll find with baking, but how the cheese melts into a dish can still have a drastic effect on the final outcome. You may need to adjust your baking time to accommodate.

Cheese is definitely an important part of meals in Spain as it is in many other countries. With all of the regions and different climates, there is a huge variety of flavors from which to choose. Even within the flavors-from mid to strong-you will find many other flavors that are the result of aging, type of milk, or regional differences. Now go grab a glass of wine and some Spanish cheese. Enjoy!

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