Manchego is produced in the La Mancha region of Spain, which is better known as the birthplace of Don Quixote. The original Manchego cheese is made from unpasteurized sheep’s milk. This is one of the most popular cheeses from Spain, made from sheep’s milk. Also, this type of cheese is protected by PDO standards.
Traditionally, herbal mold is used in cooking, which leaves a characteristic zigzag pattern on the Manchego cheese. Real Manchego is made only from Manchego sheep milk. Today, this cheese is made from both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk. The farm version is made from unpasteurized milk, while the industrial version is made from pasteurized milk.
The peel is inedible and has a characteristic traditional herringbone pattern. This pattern appears during the ripening of cheese in baskets of wheat ears. There are certain differences in Manchego cheeses, depending on the ripening period.
- Semi Curado – young Manchego cheese, about 3 months old, soft and moist. The taste is fruity, herbal with a spicy note.
- Curado – Manchego cheese, aged for 6 months, takes on a caramel-nutty flavor. It has a distinct acidity.
- Viejo – Manchego cheese, aged for a year, becomes crumbly in texture, while the inside of the cheese takes on a toffee color. This cheese is sweet with a long aftertaste.
Manchego cheeses are best combined with sherry. Similar cheeses are called “Machego like cheeses”, but manufacturers cannot legally name the cheese Manchego.
This famous cheese received a Gold and Silver Award at the 2014 World Cheese Awards.