Pressed cheese made from whole cow´s milk from Friesian, Menorcan and/or Brown Swiss cows, occasionally with a maximum of 5% of sheep´s milk from the Menorcan breed of sheep. Ripened for a minimum of 21 days.
Island of Menorca (Balearic Islands).
The milk must be whole and clean, without any type of preservative and with a balance between fat and protein in line with the seasonal characteristics of the milk of the different breeds used so that the final fat content is never less than 38% of dry matter.
The artisan dairies use raw milk, fresh from the cow. The industrial plants are allowed to use milk that has been processed or preserved in some way. The right amount of animal rennet is used to ensure that coagulation takes place in a minimum of 30-40 minutes at a constant temperature of 30-34ºC (86-93ºF). This temperature must also be maintained during cutting and draining of the curds.The curds are cut to the size of a large pea and left to stand for about ten minutes before the whey is drained off.
The cheese is molded by hand, wrapped in a square cotton cloth, the fogasser, and hung from the four corners. It is then placed on a table, the whey is removed and the paste is manually pressed and tied. It is then pressed in a machine which leaves the mark of the folds of the cloth and the cords imprinted on the top.
Special molds can also be used to give the characteristic shape. Pressing lasts for about ten hours, after which the cheese is submerged in brine at saturation point for a maximum of 48 hours at 10-15ºC (50-59ºF). It is then aired in ventilated rooms for 3-4 days, when the surface flora begins to develop. It then remains in ripening chambers until ready for sale: 21-60 days for young cheeses, 60-150 days for semi-cured cheeses and over 150 days for cured cheeses.
During ripening, the cheese is regularly turned and cleaned, and the rind is rubbed with olive oil and pimentón (a Spanish type of paprika). This operation is repeated several times and prevents the rind from drying out, repels insects and gives the cheese its characteristic color and appearance.
The flavor is generally mildly acidic. The young cheese is mild, the semi-cured has a slight flavor of butter and nuts, especially hazelnuts, and medium persistence in the mouth. The flavor of the cured cheese is complex and intense, with touches of aged wood, tanned leather or the ripening chamber. Its piquancy increases with maturity, and persistence in the mouth is long.
The cheese has lactic aromas, with a slight reminiscence of butter and a characteristic acidity, all of which increase during ripening.
The young cheese is soft and elastic, the semi-cured cheese is firmer and easy to cut, and the cured cheese has a firmer, harder, less elastic texture. When well-ripened, it may be crumbly or flaky when cut.
The shape is a parallelepiped, with a square base and sides and rounded edges. The height is 5-9 cm (2-3½”), with a ratio of 2:3 between the side and the height for young cheeses, and 2:4 for semi-cured and cured cheeses. The weight is 1-4 kg (2.2-8.8 lb).
The rind is compact and greasy and not very well-developed in the young cheeses, white-to-yellowish in young cheeses, orange or light brown in the artisan semi-cured cheese, and brown in the cured product. The top of the artisan cheeses is marked by the folds of the cloth used to wrap the cheese during molding.
The paste is yellow-to-ivory in color, with a few irregular, more or less round holes, in varying sizes but never larger than a pea. The fat content may never be less than 38% of dry matter, and total dry matter must never be less than 50%.
– Spanish Ministry of Agriculture
– Regulatory Council, Mahon-Menorca PDO