After the UK, the sheep herd of Spain is the largest in the EU.
The sheep races of Spain are not particularly productive in quantitative terms, but compensate with the fact that, due to their higher content of proteins and fats, their milk is very suitable for the manufacture of cheese.
Most cheeses in Spain are made from pure sheep’s milk and have a pronounced flavor that arises in the course of sufficient ripening.
Manchego cheese is the best known and the most traditional cheese in Spain. According to the requirements of D.O.P. (Protected designation of origin) must be made exclusively from milk from Manchega sheep and only in La Mancha. Manchego cheese can also be made from pasteurized milk, but the best cheeses are made with raw milk in which native microbiological flora acts directly.
Cylindrical and weighing about 3 kg (6.6 lb), they can be matured during periods of variable duration, giving different ranges; Semi-cured, cured and reserves (extra-mature).
Mature cheeses should taste alone, accompanied by nothing more than a slice of rustic bread and a glass of wine from the earth. They are versatile and can be eaten directly at any time of the day. Also used in the kitchen to enrich the flavor of the sauces.
The Roncal cheese was the first Spanish cheese to obtain the PDO. It is made in the seven municipalities of the Roncal Valley in the north of Navarre, near the French border. Roncal cheeses are cylindrical, medium-sized and have a smooth brown bark and ivory-white interior. The cheese has a pronounced butter flavor, barely salty, but with a touch of intriguing spice. For good reason, this cheese is generally consumed to round off a meal, but it can also be used in the kitchen.
Idiazabal was the name chosen for a group of cheeses from different valleys Basque Country. When D.O.P. Is attached to the name, the unification of production methods resulted in a cheese whose quality has obtained gourmet status. With a weight of about 1 kg (2.2 lb), it is sometimes smoked and the color of the bark varies. The interior is compact, with the eyes from time to time or none at all, and ivory white. The rich, delicious taste suggests nuts or hazelnuts, the aromas are elegant and the texture smooth and compact. Idiazabal is a characteristic of amarretako (an abundant Basque breakfast) or is eaten as a dessert or a snack.
Zamorano cheese comes from the cereal plains of Zamora (Castilla y León, northwest of Spain), which are conducive to the presence of specific microorganisms that are directly influential in the ripening process; In combination with traditional methods, improved by technology, which has found a niche market and has earned D.O.P. Cheeses, which are cylindrical in shape and weigh between 1 and 3 kg (2.2 and 6.6 lb) can be made with pasteurized or raw milk and mature for four to six months. The aromatic cheese has an elegant, long lasting flavor and is buttery, but firm and compact in texture. It is a multipurpose cheese that does not disappoint, whether eating normal or as an ingredient.