Manchego cheese

Cheese of Manchego origin . Manchego cheese origin is a Spanish cheese made with milk from Manchega sheep and protected by an appellation of origin in La Mancha . The DOP is recognized at European level by Regulation (EC) 1107/96 of the European Commission . In 2007, it was proposed to modify the specifications for the designation of origin. Generally they make a good pairing with La Mancha wines .


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  • 1 Geographical area
  • 2 History
  • 3 Elaboration
  • 4 Features
  • 5 Gastronomy
  • 6 Sources

Geographical area

The surface protected by the designation of origin «Queso Manchego» is 4,419,763 hectares , in a series of municipalities that cover part of the provinces of Albacete (21.66% of the region), Ciudad Real (33.16%) , Cuenca (22.13%) and Toledo (23.05%), which constitute the region of La Mancha .


From very remote times, the inhabitants of La Mancha were dedicated to grazing and making cheese , just as all the primitive populations did. Proof of this are the remains of bowls , perforated vessels , cheeses and other utensils found in the museums of the four provinces of La Mancha. Manchego cheese appears in some quotes from historical and literary documents, thus, in Don Quixote de Cervantes , cheese is clearly linked to La Mancha. In 1878 , in the work of Francisco Balaguer and Primo titledExploitation and manufacture of milk, butter and cheese of different kinds , in one of its chapters dedicated to the “main Spanish cheeses”, reference is first made to Manchego cheese. In 1892 , in the General Dictionary of Cuisine , Ángel Muro related Spanish sheep’s milk cheeses to Manchego cheese. The same author talks about Manchego cheese in El Practicón, a complete cooking treatise published in 1898 . In 1909 the book by Buenaventura Aragó entitled Manufacture of cheeses and butters of all kinds, cites Manchego cheese on one of its pages, also appearing in the Guide to Good Spanish Eating, by Dionisio Pérez, published in the year 1929 . This name was provisionally recognized by the Order of July 2 , 1982 of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food . It was recognized as a PDO by Regulation (EC) No. 1107/96 of the European Commission. Currently (2007-2008) it is in the process of modifying some ends of the specifications for the designation of origin.


The milk for the elaboration of this cheese must come exclusively from sheep of the La Mancha breed , sheep adapted to the exploitation of grazing in arid areas. This breed is exploited in grazing throughout the year, taking advantage of natural resources; in sheepfold it is helped with rations of concentrates, hay and by-products. The process of making Manchego cheese consists of the following phases: 1. Milking and refrigeration of milk. The milk is extractedof the udders of La Mancha sheep manually or mechanically and after filtering, it is deposited in refrigeration tanks to lower its temperature to 4 ºC. 2. Coagulation and cutting of the curd. The milk is transferred to the curds, where it coagulates using natural rennet. For this process, the milk is heated to 30 ° C and is kept at this temperature for 45 minutes. The obtained curd is subjected to successive cuts until obtaining small grains similar to those of rice. 3. Discouraged. The mass is stirred and gradually reheated until reaching 37 ° C, in order to facilitate the elimination of the liquid or serum part. 4. Molded. The obtained curd is introduced into cylindrical molds that have reliefs to print the “flower” on the flat faces of the cheese and the pleita on the lateral surfaceand there it is pressed, to give it shape and eliminate the remaining serum. 5. Identification of the piece with the casein plate, numbered and serialized, that identifies each piece individually. 6. Pressing. Once the curd in the molds, it is subjected to pressing to facilitate the removal of the whey from the inside of the dough. 7. Flipped. After a period in the press, the curd is removed from the mold, and reversing the position of the flat faces of the cylinder, it is reintroduced into the cylinder to subject it to a new pressing process. 8. Salty. The next process is salting by immersion in brine. It uses sodium chloride(common salt) and the duration ranges from 24 to 48 hours. 9. Drying and maturation. The pieces remain in places with adequate humidity to remove excess water. They are then introduced into chambers, with controlled temperature and humidity, to facilitate the correct maturation of the cheese. The maturation of the cheeses lasts not less than 30 days for cheeses less than 1.5 kg and 60 days for higher weights, counted from the date of molding, applying during this period the necessary turning and cleaning practices until the cheese reaches its peculiar characteristics.


It is a pressed pasta cheese made with sheep milk from the La Mancha breed , with a minimum maturity of 30 days, for cheeses weighing 1.5 kg or less and 60 days, for the rest of formats, and a maximum of 2 years. It has a cylinder shape with slightly flat faces, a maximum height of 12 cm, and a maximum diameter of 22 cm. Each piece will weigh a minimum of 400 g, and a maximum of 4 kg. The dry extract is a minimum of 55%, while the fat is a minimum of 50% on dry extract, being the proteinTotal, again on dry matter, of a minimum of 30%. Regarding the organoleptic characteristics, it should be noted that its bark is hard, pale yellow or greenish-blackish, and the presence of impressions of the molds ” pleitas type on the lateral surface and” flower type “on the flat faces should be observed. . The pasta that forms the cheese must have a homogeneous appearance, with a variable color from white to ivory-yellowish. The cut must have small eyes and unevenly distributed over the entire surface, and may sometimes lack them. The textureIt is of low elasticity, with a buttery and somewhat floury sensation, which can be grainy in the very mature ones. It gives off an intense and persistent lactic, acidified odor that evolves to spicy nuances in the most cured ones with long global persistence. As for the flavor, it is slightly acidic , strong and tasty that turns into spicy in highly cured cheeses. A pleasant and peculiar residual taste conferred by La Mancha sheep milk. The waxed bark must have engraved on the side the typical zigzag of the old esparto girdle; the color of the wax denotes the age of the cheese. The paste should be ivory, with small and irregular eyes. The complexity of its flavor depends on the curing, but it must evoke the Brazil nuts and the burnt caramel, with a slightly salty aftertaste, while the aroma must be reminiscent of lanolin and roasted lamb. The labels must include the mention «Denomination of Origin” Manchego Cheese “». In the event that the cheese is made with milkraw (unpasteurized) may record this circumstance on the label with the words “Artisan”. The product intended for consumption will be provided with numbered back labels issued by the Regulatory Council, which will be placed in the registered industry and always in a way that does not allow a new use of them, in addition, each piece of Manchego cheese on one side It will have a serial and numbered casein plate that is placed in the molding and pressing phase of the pieces.


Manchego cheese can be included in a cheese board , be part of salads , in tapas or accompanied with quince or nuts . The old one is used to grate, or cut into cubes, covered with beaten egg and breadcrumbs and then fried. It pairs well with red wine or a wine from the same region, such as the Denomination of Origin La Mancha . It is the most famous and commercialized Spanish cheese outside of Spain .


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