“Life comes in many forms. Shredded, sliced, melted…”
Ask anyone who knows me…I am a bona fide cheese lover. I can eat chunks of it on their own as a snack, and would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I didn’t fear I’d be a walking heart attack by doing so.
Cheese is one of the things that makes life worth living. So, when we moved to Mallorca after a decade and a half in France (no slackers on the cheese front themselves), I made it my business to find out what’s what in the world of cheese here, and you, dear Affordable Mallorca reader, will now get the skinny on local cheese.
Local Cheese #
Mallorca has been making and eating cheese for a long time. As far back as 1345, there are records of Llucmajor sheep cheese being exported to Barcelona for the nobility, who loved it so much, it became the best-selling cheese in the city.
Mallorca has its own locally produced versions which are either a blend of cow (vaca), sheep (oveja) and/or goat (cabra) cheeses or cow milk alone, and they are readily found all over the island in four varieties:
- Fresh (fresco or tierno): Not aged
- Semi-Cured (semi-curado): Matured for a minimum of 20 days
- Cured (curado): Matured for at least 45 days
- Aged or (madurado or muy madurado): Matured for 100 days minimum
The flavour of the local cheese intensifies with the aging process and is slightly salty but delicate, with the most aged cheeses being a bit peppery in taste. They cut easily and are dense and creamy with an ivory to yellowish colour.
To get the unique taste, cheese makers on the island coagulate fresh milk using rennet when it is 30°-35° for no less than half an hour creating curd, which is then cut up into small pieces. Whey is drained from the curds which are then put into moulds lined with linen or cotton and are pressed for a minimum of 3 hours. These pressed cheeses are soaked in a brine for 18 hours or more, then are matured at room temperature for the required amount of time to obtain the desired ageing.
Insider Tip: Mallorca's Red Sheep Cheese
Every year, from November to March, a small local factory in the Inca area produce their queso de oveja roja – a cheese made with milk from the endemic sheep. It is extra savoury due to the milk's higher fat content, and special insofar as they use a vegetal rennet obtained by macerating the flowers of the wild thistle (Cynara cardunculus). You can buy it locally, from the Ecoilla website or the small shops of the Cooperativas de Mallorca, and at the Santa Catalina market
Affordable Mallorca Tip: If you are looking for a Mallorcan substitute for recipes with Italian ricotta, buy the local requesón. Or make your own: Pour 3 litres of semi-skimmed milk into a pan and heat up to boiling point, turn down the heat to prevent it from boiling over, pour in the juice of 3 lemons (the softer the lemons the better), stirring all the while thus creating the curd. This process won't take more than a few minutes. Let rest for another five minutes or so, then pour through a strainer to separate the curds from the whey. Press out as much liquid as you can from the curds to leave them nice and dry. And that's all there is to it – a really simple recipe to make your own requesón or ricotta. It won't take you more than ten minutes.
Whichever you buy (or make), you can’t go wrong, so go ahead, indulge your inner mouse and try Mallorca’s own cheeses!
Por Stephanie Horsman
22 abril, 2021