Idiazabalis a cheese made from non pasteurized sheep milk. It is a gourmet cheese and is made only in Basque country and Navarre, Spain. It is a pressed cheese made from Latxa and Carranzana sheep milk. It has a smoky flavor but is usually un-smoked. This cheese has a rind that is inedible and it is dark brown in color. It is handmade and with ageing for few months it develops a nutty and buttery flavor. It may also turn dry as it matures and may be eaten fresh or with quince jam. Ageing makes the cheese dry and sharp and it can also be grated. The minimum maturing period for this cheese is 90 days.
History of Idiazabal Cheese
This cheese was produced in 1987 under the Denomination of Origin. This D.O. has some regulations of the cheese manufacturing process. It stipulates that the milk be curdled with natural lamb rennet. It also permits external smoking of cheese. The traditional process of producing Idiazabal involved the use of wheels for smoking the cheese. They used beechwood, hawthorn, or cherry for 10 days to create the smoky flavor. This process would also add depth to the cheese and gives it the rich nutty flavor. Originally, this cheese was handmade by farmers. The farmers have their own little secrets that is kept for generations. Hence, this cheese may have slightly different flavors. Some farmers state, “Our sheep’s live peacefully and so the quality of milk is rich”.
Culinary Uses of Idiazabal Cheese
This cheese pairs well with Navarra wines and other medium reds like crianza. The aromatic intensity of this cheese goes well with cider too. It also tastes well with a good quality sherry. It can also be served with fruits. Some people like Idiazabal in the melted form on rice or potatoes. It can also be served with barbecued pork items and makes a perfect accompaniment for crusty bread. It is best served as a table cheese.
This cheese has around 45 to 50 percent cheese and is rich in protein too. The protein content in Idiazabalis around 7 grams in a 30 gram piece of cheese.