Smoked cheese made from raw or pasteurized cow’s milk from the Rubia Gallega, Parda-Alpina and Friesian breeds and cross-breeds, with a minimum 30-day ripening period. It has a distinctive shape, like a large spinning top, with a flat base and a pointed tip.
The geographical area in which the milk is obtained and the cheese produced covers the Terra Chá region, which comprises the following municipal districts in the province of Lugo: Vilalba, Muras, Xermade, Abadín, Guitiriz, Begonte, Castro de Rei, Cospeito and A Pastoriza.
The cheese production processes consists of the following stages:
Coagulation: this is done using rennet, with special emphasis on recovering and using local stocks. The milk curdles at a temperature of between 31 and 33ºC for 30 to 40 minutes, except when raw milk is used, when these parameters are changed to 28-32ºC and 30-35 minutes.
Cutting: cutting is done so that the size of the curd granules is between 5 and 2 mm in diameter.
Molding: the curd is packed into molds of suitable shapes and sizes to produce cheeses that have the typical features of the certified product. Pressing: special presses are used and the cheeses stay in them for a set length of time, depending on the pressure applied and the size of the cheeses. To allow the cheese to release the whey and to ensure a smooth rind, the individual cheeses are wrapped in cotton cloths. Salting: the cheeses are immersed in a 14% to 17% concentrated salt solution for a maximum of 24 hours.
Ripening: The minimum ripening period is 45 days for the large format and 30 days for the small format counting from the end of the salting process. During the ripening period, the cheeses are turned and cleaned as required so they acquire their distinctive features.
Immersion in anti-mildew bath: This optional step consists of dipping the cheeses into a bath with olive oil or another authorized product to prevent mildew forming.
Smoking: this is done for the time required to give the cheese its distinctive color, avoiding direct contact with the flames at all times. The wood used is always birch with the bark stripped off.
To safeguard product quality and traceability, protected cheeses must normally be sold whole and in packaging authorized by the controlling body. However, this body can also allow the cheese to be sold in portions or to be cut into pieces at the point of sale.
It has a typical aroma and flavor, with a smoky note from using birch wood. The cheese texture is fine, fatty, semi-hard, semi-elastic and dense; it has a creamy yellow color and cuts smoothly.
The rind is smoked, hard and non-elastic, between 1 and 3 mm thick, a yellow-ochre color and a little greasy. It has a small number of rounded or irregular shaped ‘eyes’ in a variety of sizes, but usually smaller than half a pea.
Dry extract: minimum 55%
Fat: minimum 45% and maximum 60% of dry extract
pH: between 5.0 and 5.6
Large format, weighing between 0.8 and 1.5 kg (1.7 / 3.3 lb) and with a height of between 13 and 18 cm (5.1 / 7.09 ins).
Small format, weighing between 0.4 and 0.8 kg (0.8 / 1.7 lb) and with a height of between 10 and 13 cm (3.9 / 5.1 ins).
– Spanish Ministry of Agriculture
– Regulatory Council, Queso San Simon da Costa PDO