Torta del Casar PDO


Fernando Madariaga / © ICEX

  

Torta del Casar

Cheese made from raw milk of sheep from the Merino and Entrefino breeds. Natural plant rennet is used for coagulation and ripening takes at least 60 days.


 

Production area

The production area includes municipalities in the districts of Los Llanos de Cáceres, Sierra de Fuentes and Montánchez, in the province of Cáceres (Extremadura).

Production process

The sheep are farmed extensively or semi-extensively, being fed in the traditional way on local pastures. Any food supplements required are regulated and supervised by the Regulatory Council which establishes how the sheep should be handled and fed. These are breeds with a low milk yield, so the milk of almost 20 ewes is needed to produce one kilo of cheese.

The milk must be raw, clean and unadulterated and must come from healthy sheep reared on registered farms. It must be free from colostrum, inhibitors, antibiotics, drugs, preservatives, etc. which might negatively affect the ripening and storage of the cheese as well as its health and hygiene conditions.

The fresh milk is kept for a maximum of 48 hours at a temperature below 4ºC (39.2ºF) to prevent the development of microbes. The cheese-making process begins with coagulation of the milk using natural plant rennet at 28-32ºC (82-89ºF) for 50-80 minutes. The rennet is obtained by soaking filaments of the Cynara Cardunculus thistle flower, known locally as Hierbacuajo, in water.

The curds are then cut using a special implement with thin metal wires until they are the size of rice grains.The resulting paste is then transferred to cylindrical molds and pressed at a pressure of 1-2½  kg/cm2 (21.3 lbs/sq in) for three to eight hours to drain out all the whey and give the cheese its final shape.

The next stage is salting with sodium chloride.  This can be done either by salting the cheese directly or by placing the cheese in brine at a concentration of 16º Baumé for 1-6 hours.

The cheese is then ripened for a minimum of 60 days at 4-12ºC (39-53ºF) and under relative moisture of 75-90%. It is turned every day to ensure that ripening takes place correctly. During this stage, it obtains its typical dropped shape and some have to be wrapped to prevent the paste from leaking out of the soft rind.

The rind may either be left untouched or may be washed and brushed. Cheese coated with olive oil or other authorized substances, is also a traditional product.

Tasting notes

Intense aroma and well-developed flavor with a touch of bitterness from plant rennet. Melts in the mouth and has very little saltiness. The texture varies from soft to spreadable.

Other notes

The shape is cylindrical, with flat top and bottom and a flat/convex perimeter. There are two types based on size. Type A is 5-7 cm (2-2½”) high, has a diameter of 11-13 cm (4-5”) and weighs 500-700 g (1lb 1 oz – 1 ½ lb). Type B, of the same height, has a diameter of 14-17 cm (5½ -6½”) and weighs 900-1,000g (1 lb 1 oz – 2 lb 3 oz). The rind is light, thin, semi-hard and yellow to ochre, sometimes with small cracks on the surface. The paste is white or yellowish and compact, but soft and creamy. There may be some small eyes.

The physical and chemical characteristics are as follows:

– Minimum fat content over dry matter: 50 %
– pH: 5.2 to 5.9
– Minimum dry matter: 50 %
– Maximum sodium chloride: 3 %

Sources

– Spanish Ministry of Agriculture
– Regulatory Council, Torta del Casar PDO

Regulatory Council
Consejo Regulador de la DOP Torta del Casar
Avda. de la Constitución, 13
10190 Casar de Cáceres (Cáceres)
Extremadura
Tel: (+34) 902 918 723
info@tortadelcasar.org
www.tortadelcasar.org