Spain has about 100 different varieties of Cheese. Every region has its own specialty, covering a full range of cheese types, from fresh to cured, to fermented and blue-veined. One esential characteristic is the type of milk used in the production. Depending on the area, time of the year, climate, or tradition, cheeses are made of cows’, sheep’s, goats’ milk, or of a mixture of two or all three types of milk.
In general cow’s milk cheeses are found in the north, along the Cantabric coast, from Galicia to the Basque Country, and along the northern Cantabric Mountain Range and the Pyrenees. Sheep’s milk cheeses are found inland, from the north, in Cantabria and the Basque Country, down to the flats of Castilla-León, Castilla La Mancha, Aragón and Extremadura. And finally goat’s milk cheeses are found mostly along the regions of the Mediterranean coast, from Cataluña to Andalusia, as well as in Extremadura.
In the islands, both Canary Islands as well as the Balearic, you will find mostly goat milk cheese, although also some cow milk ones, as well as mixed milk cheeses. Mixed milk cheeses are produced across the whole geography, with the predominant milk of each area being more used in the mixes.
How to Cut and Serve Cheese
Cheese from Spain is great for impromptu entertaining. Choose a variety of colors and flavors for an optimum aesthetic and taste experience.
Depending on the particular type of cheese there is a recommended way to slice. The key to slicing is texture and flavor. Semi-soft, sharp flavored cheeses such as Manchego, Zamorano and Mahón should be cut into thin slivers. The rind may be left on the outer edge as a visual clue to the type of cheese being served. The rind is not meant to be eaten.
Cheeses such as Cabrales are best served in large chunks from which guests can help themselves by cutting this crumbly king of cheeses with a knife.
You may want to arrange a cheese platter starting with the mildest flavored cheeses followed sequentially by sharper cheeses.
These cheeses will go well not just with tasty bread and crackers but also with fresh fruit like apples and grapes.
You can use any of the cheeses in recipes to add a little zest. See the recipe section for some ideas. The only limit on how they can be used is your culinary creativity.
How to preserve and store cheese
How to Preserve and Store Cheese
Cheese should be stored in a cool dry place, such as the refrigerator.
Do not freeze the cheese. Freezing kills the cheese, that is its flavor and texture are changed.
For best results store wedges of cheese in a plastic container which can be sealed with a tight fitting lid. This method of storage is possibly the best as it prevents the cheese from drying out quickly and does not create an atmosphere that accelerates the growth of mow.
Should any of the semi soft cheeses develop mow on the exterior, try wiping away with a damp cloth (or strong paper napkin).
Fresh cheeses need will not keep long. However the majority of the cheeses from Spain are semi soft (e.g. Manchego, Mahón, Zamorano, etc) will keep for a couple of months in the right storage situation.
Before you serve ideally let the cheese come up to room temperature.