The production area comprises 399 municipal districts in the provinces of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca and Toledo which make up La Mancha, in the Autonomous Community of Castile-La Mancha.
The fresh milk is placed in cooling tanks to bring down the temperature to 4ºC (39ºF). It must be free from colostrum and medications which might affect the production, ripening and storing of the cheese.
First, the milk is soured using animal rennet or other lactic starters authorized by the Regulatory Council. It is then heated to 28-32ºC (82-89ºF) for 30 to 60 minutes and kept at this temperature for 45-60 minutes. The resulting curds are cut into the size of rice grains.
The mixture is stirred and heated again to 40ºC (104ºF) to help drain off the whey. Then the curds are placed in cylindrical molds which imprint the standard ‘flower’ pattern on the top and bottom of the cheese and the typical plaiting marks on the sides.
Once the cheese has been molded, it is pressed to remove the whey from the interior, returned to the molds but this time the other way up and pressed again. It is then salted, either with dry sodium chloride or by immersing them in brine for a maximum of 48 hours.
Finally, the cheese is left to stand in the right humidity conditions for more water to drain out, then transferred to the ripening chambers under controlled temperature and moisture conditions. Ripening lasts for a minimum of 60 days (except for cheeses under 1.5 kg.) after molding, and during this period the cheese is turned and cleaned until it acquires the necessary characteristics.
Cheese covered by the Regulatory Council is identified with a numbered label bearing the PDO logo. On cheese weighing less than 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz), the top right-hand corner of the label is crossed by a blue stripe and, if the cheese is sold in plastic-wrapped portions, the stripe is green.
The underside of the cheese bears a numbered ‘casein’ label stating the term Manchego. This term must also appear on the commercial label, which must also state that the cheese has been made exclusively from Manchego sheep´s milk.
A characteristic aroma and slightly sharp, intense flavor that becomes slightly piquant in well-ripened cheeses. The Manchego sheep´s milk gives a pleasant, unusual aftertaste. The texture is firm and compact.
Cylindrical in shape with flat top and bottom. Maximum height is 12 cm (4¾”), maximum diameter 22 cm (8.6”), and weight may vary between 0.4 and 4 kg (0.8 – 8.8 lb).
The rind is hard and yellow. The sides are imprinted with plaiting marks from the molds, and the top and bottom bear the characteristic flower imprint. The color of the paste may vary from white to yellowish-ivory and it may be dotted with tiny eyes.
This cheese has the following physical and chemical characteristics:
– pH: 4.5 to 5.8
– Refraction index at 40º C: from 1.4530 to 1.4557
– Dry matter: minimum 55%
– Total protein over dry matter: minimum 30 %
– Fat in dry matter: minimum 50% – Sodium chloride: maximum 2.3 %
– Spanish Ministry of Agriculture
– Regulatory Council, Queso Manchego PDO
Consejo Regulador de la DOP Queso Manchego
Avenida del Vino, s/n
13300 Valdepeñas (Ciudad Real)
Tel: (+34) 926 322 666
Fax: (+ 34) 926 322 712