Where To Buy Manchego Cheese

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How Spanish Manchego Cheese Is Made At A 200-Year-Old Dairy | Regional Eats

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What Is Manchego Cheese

Manchego is a semi-soft cheese, pale yellow in color, with a firm and supple texture, a pleasant grassy aroma and a fruity, nutty, tangy and sweet flavor. It has a fat content of up to 57 percent, which contributes to its rich flavor.

Manchego is made in the Spanish provinces of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, and Toledo, and is available in fresh and aged varieties, although the fresh type is seldom seen outside of Spain. Manchego can be made with either raw sheep’s milk or pasteurized. The raw version, known as artesano, retains more of the earthy, grassy, tangy flavor of the sheep’s milk.

Granqueso From Roth Kse Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s GranQueso is loosely made in the style of Manchego, but using pasteurized cow’s milk. In keeping with Manchego’s traditional role as a dessert cheese, this all-American flavor bomb is rubbed with baking spices its potent sweetness makes it a sure bet for fans of aged Gouda and Parmesan. In The Cheese Chronicles, Liz Thorpe compares its aroma to “almond and sucker candiesnot exactly butterscotch but caramel…like butter and sugar cooked down to a toasty glaze.”

A little bit goes a long way with this American invention. Balance its candy sweetness with salty Marconas and a nutty, off-dry Amontillado.

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Other Types Of Cured Cheese

At Artesanos Lácteos you can also find other types of cured cheese. They are not made from Manchega sheep milk, so you will not find the DO seal.

Nevertheless, they are made with sheep milk and in some cases with mixed milk . The latter are exquisite cheeses where you can appreciate the different aromatic and taste tones offered by the different types of milk combined in a single cheese with extraordinary flavour.

How Is Manchego Cheese Produced

Buy Manchego Cheese at The Cheese Society Online

Manchego cheese is made by curdling sheep’s milk with calf’s rennet and gently cutting the curd and pressing it by hand into cylindrical moulds. The moulds themselves are engraved with a pattern that gives the Manchego rind its unique texture, replicating the marks formed by the woven leaves of the grass baskets in which Manchego cheeses were traditionally made.

The moulds are pressed and the resulting wheels of cheese are placed in brine, after which they are transferred to natural maturing caves where they spend between one month and two years. Brushing the cheese with olive oil helps to form the natural rind and to colour the outside of the cheese.

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How To Tell The Difference In The Shop

OK, so youre in the shop, confronted by a line of round hard cheeses, all with that patterned rind typical of Spain and they all look much the same.

To be fair, plenty of them are pretty good cheeses and a lot cheaper than genuine manchego. Theyre the kind you use every day for sandwiches or snacks. But proper queso manchego has a distinctive taste all its own.

So if you do want the really good stuff, how do you tell manchego from the rest?

First, look for the distinctive main label on the cheese itself. Not surprisingly, it shows Don Quixote and Sancho Panza the most famous pair ever to come out of La Mancha.

Underneath it says QUESO MANCHEGO and theres a serial number. If the cheese is made from raw milk then itll say artesano too, because the flavour is more intense as the extra bacteria in unpasteurized milk does its job.

Youll also see a separate circular red and yellow label, the mark of the DOP.

But cant anyone stick labels on their cheese and call it genuine manchego? Well, yes they could but theres a more foolproof way of checking.

How Long Is Manchego Aged

The number of months Manchego is aged affects the cheese types. Our Corcuera Manchego DOP aged three months is relatively soft with a fresh floral and grassy flavor. This three-month-old cheese type is known as Semi Curado. At six months, Curado Manchego cheese is slightly firmer and has a fuller, nuttier flavor. At 12 months and beyond, the texture of Viejo Manchego cheese becomes firm, if not crumbly, and the taste becomes sharper and more peppery.

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Can You Melt Them

Manchego Cheese and Tomato Skillet with Smoked Paprika

Manchego is not the world’s greatest melting cheese. It has a tendency to becoming too greasy. It wouldn’t be my go-to for mac & cheese unless using it mixed better melters. However I did test using it in some Instant Pot Egg Bites with great results .

Mahon is the better melter for sure. People love it on toast.

If you can’t find Mahon and are looking for a melting cheese that is the most similar the best I can offer is gouda. Not the same but gouda could stand in if needed, if not then just for with a Manchego.

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A Guide To Delightfully Complex Yet Approachable Manchego Cheese And Its Cousins

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Manchegothe sheep’s-milk poster cheese of Spanish cuisinereally is the ideal culinary ambassador, as representative of Spanish culture as Parmigiano-Reggiano is of Italian or Roquefort is of French. As artisan cheeses go, it is accessible at all stages of maturity, and its combination of flavorsa delicate balance of buttery, tart, sweet, and nuttymakes it stand out among more ho-hum crowd-pleasers on the cheese board. Beloved by fancy aunts and picky kid brothers alike, Manchego is unmistakably different from cow’s-milk cheeses, but without the polarizing gaminess of chèvre. And, while sheep’s-milk products are often pricey, the small wheels typically produced age relatively quickly, offsetting to some extent the cost of its expensive main ingredient. Perhaps best of all, Manchego straddles the line between “basic” and “boutique” with ease, and so can be considered a truly democratic dairy product.

How Manchego Is Made

In addition to the regional requirement, another requirement for Manchego cheese is that it be made from the milk of the Manchega breed of sheep, and the milk must have a minimum fat content of 6 percent. It’s made by curdling sheep’s milk using calf’s rennet, then gently cutting the curds and pressing them by hand into cylindrical molds. The molds themselves are etched with a pattern that gives Manchego’s rind its unique texture, replicating the markings formed by the woven fronds of the grass baskets in which Manchego cheeses were traditionally made.

The molds are pressed, and the resulting wheels of cheese are then brined, after which they are transferred to natural aging caves where they spend anywhere from a month to two years. Brushing the cheese with olive oil helps to form the natural rind, and give the outside of the cheese its color.

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Different Ages Of Manchego

In searching around at several stores for Manchego, I was able to find 3 different ages – 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year. I bought one of each along with a Manchego from ALDI and built myself a little cheese board.

The tasting began with the 3 month. Very mild on the flavor. The most creamy of the lot.

Then moving onto the 6 month, this the age I think most Manchego ends up being. It has gained some flavor but isn’t too dry at this point. The ALDI Manchego I had on that cheese board above seemed to taste similar to the 6 month.

In terms of flavor, the 1 year was naturally the strongest. At this point, the cheese has developed the crystal like texture you get when you bite into legit Parmesan. I would say it’s similar to Dry Jack cheese at this point but still more mild than that. Even after a year I would still consider Manchego to be a mild cheese with a slight gamey finish at the end.

I find it to be similar to Dry Jack without being as sharp. It actually would make a fine substitute for Pecorino Romano in the classic Cacio e Pepe pasta dish.

Bonus: Butter From Whey


Making Butter from Whey:

Because higher fat cheese is so much more likely to release butterfat when cutting I always save the whey in sanitized buckets and allow them to sit cool overnight.

The next morning I skim the butterfat and make butter from it by then the culture has given me a nice tangy cultured butter.

From the batch photographed here I made a nice 1 pound ball of butter.

Manchago is the Most Recognized Cheese from Spain

Manchego was traditionally made from native sheep milk pastured on the high central Plateau of Spain.

It’s probably the single most known cheese coming out of Spain .

I often ask my workshop attendees to name for me, 3 Spanish cheeses and that almost always ends at Manchego.

Manchego comes from an area that is so hot and dry much of the year, that only this special breed of sheep can coax the nutrition from the dry grasses.

Not surprisingly the breed of sheep used to make the cheese takes its name from the land as ‘Manchego’.

It was the Muslim community who inhabited the land from the eighth through the eleventh centuries and dubbed it region Manya, which meant “land without waterâ.

If visiting Spain you will also find many other cheeses similar to Manchego, such as Zamarona , as well as the many Manchego-like cheeses I see made from ewes milk but outside the classified Manchego region. They all show the typical zig-zag markings of the traditional plaited ‘Esparto’ grass forms, a well expected signature for this style of cheese.

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Where Can I Buy Good Quality Cured Manchego Cheese At A Fair Price

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If you have ever thought about buying cured Manchego cheese for your own consumption, for a family event or to share with friends, you must have asked yourself which cheese to buy and why you should buy cured Manchego cheese at Artesanos Lácteos.

How Should I Eat Manchego Cheese

The Manchego cheese recipes you should use all depends on the cheese types. Depending on what kind of flavor profile you want your dish to have, it can be used in everything from salads to sandwiches to mac and cheese. It also pairs well with bacon, figs, and even chocolate. Act like a true Spaniard and pair it with a mature Spanish red wine.

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What Is Manchego

Produced in the La Mancha region of Spain, Manchego is one of Spains most iconic exports. A semi-hard cheese identified by its distinctive herringbone rind and sweet flavour, Manchego falls under PDO guidelines and artisan cheeses are traditionally made from unpasteurised milk of the eponymous Manchega sheep.

A staple in Spanish cuisine, the flavour of Manchego improves with age – as does its texture. As the consistency hardens, the flavours deepen, becoming more rounded and nutty. Enjoy a slice of your favourite Manchego cheese with almonds, quince jam or a drizzle of honey.

What To Shop For

STUFFED SPANISH MUSHROOMS: With Tuna & Manchego Cheese

True Manchego is protected by Spanish Denominación de Origen and European Protected Designation of Origin regulations, so if you see the PDO insignia printed on the label, or notice a small, numbered plaque pressed into the surface of the rind, you can be sure of a few key characteristics set forth by the DOP guidelines. Like cheddar and Tomme de Savoie, Manchego is an uncooked, pressed-curd cheese it must be made using the tangy, fatty milk of manchega sheep in their native provinces of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, and Toledo, an area due south and southeast of Madrid that makes up the region of La Mancha. The sprawling, dry region has been home to shepherds and cheesemakers for millennia .

Wheels of the iconic cheese can easily be identified by their rinds, which are textured in a zigzag pattern from shaping in basket molds made of either plastic or traditional braided grass. The natural rind is usually treated with an anti-molding agent, and a thin wax coating is often added. Apart from the rind, DOP-approved wheels will also include a tab or label that verifies their credentials.

In Spain, wheels of Manchego are categorized according to their age, ranging from the two-week fresco to semicurado , curado , and añejo or viejo . But overlap between the categories, as well as the additional time the cheese spends in transit and customs, can lead to confusion about the designations, which is why, here in the US, Manchego is usually advertised by its numerical age.

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Why The Pattern In The Rind

A whole manchego cheese is encased in a distinctive patterned rind, or corteza, which dates from the way the cheese was made in years gone by.

The cheesemaker would pour the curds into a mould made from plaited esparto grass the pleita which left a natural zig-zag imprint on the cheese itself. Then a wooden board would be placed top and bottom of the wheel of cheese. Its distinctive pattern would let the liquid whey drain out as the cheese was pressed and matured.


The esparto moulds are long gone, but the traditional patterns remain. But beware lots of other non-Manchego dairies use exactly the same zig-zags in their cheeses too. The pattern does not make it manchego!

Can You Eat The Rind

If its genuine Manchego, probably yes. Check first it should say somewhere on the label corteza comestible or corteza natural if its edible . I usually cut the rind off, as for me it doesnt add anything to the taste.

Most non-Manchego hard cheeses will have plastic rinds which you definitely shouldnt eat. All Spanish cheeses should have the comestible/no comestible warning somewhere, but its often buried in the small print.

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Manchego Cheese With Do

Manchego cheese, with its name, tells us where it comes from, from a tradition rooted in the Castilian-La Mancha countryside and the land of La Mancha. Manchego cheese has a long tradition and a reputation that has been proven for centuries. Its history is that of a cheese protected by a Designation of Origin , made from milk from Manchego sheep, reared and fed in the protected territory.

This cheese is known worldwide mainly because of the many references Cervantes makes to it in Don Quixote and Sancho Panza and because it is present on every Spanish cheese shelf in international supermarkets. It is, if not the oldest in its production, one of the oldest, as archaeological remains from the Bronze Age have been found that prove the production of this cheese. There are many variants of this cheese that come from the La Mancha region that are not under the D.O. but are of equally high quality.

Types Of Cured Cheese

Buy Manchego Cheese at The Cheese Society Online

There are many examples of cured cheese. You can find a wide range of cured cheese in La Mancha, but you should not forget that in order for cheese to have a DO , they must have a seal guaranteeing that you are buying cheese made with Manchega sheep milk.

The type of cattle, the breed, the feeding, the milking cycles and whether the milk is used raw or pasteurised influence its flavour and, ultimately, the cheese made with it.

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What You’ll Find Inside

Manchego’s firm interior can range from white to pale yellow depending on age, with lots of tiny, lacy pores that exude butterfat at room temperature. Sheep’s milk contains nearly twice the percentage of butterfat found in cow’s or goat’s milk, and milk from the requisite manchega breed is said to be particularly rich and flavorful.

While younger Spanish cheese producers have begun to explore new styles of cheesemaking, heritage recipes like Manchego are still considered precious. Clara Díez is a co-owner of Quesería Cultivo, a Madrid-based artisan cheese producer and boutique that specializes in Spain’s new wave of craft cheeses, but she is quick to point out that “there is no conflict between the traditional cheesemakers and the new cheesemakers.” Cultivo’s younger producers find it more effective to add value to their milk by using artisan techniques to create new products, but Díez explains that it is “part of our commitment to also preserve the tradition…. We have to preserve that kind of recipe, those classical, traditional cheeses like Manchego.”

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