Are you confused about Queso Manchego?
You're not alone.
Similar to Jamón, Manchego cheese is one of those daunting products where we're never quite sure what we're purchasing.
Probably the most popular and widely sold cheese in Spain, Manchego originates from the La Mancha region and is made from sheep's milk. The type of cheese will indicate whether the milk is pasteurized or not. For example a farmhouse Manchego is only made from unpasteurized milk whereas the industrial version is made from pasteurized milk. The traditional use of grass moulds leaves a distinctive, characteristic zigzag pattern on the Manchego cheese. Like jamón, the varieties of Manchego are defined by their curing time.
There are four main types:
A queso fresco is the youngest of the four varieties, aged for just two weeks. Its flavor is mild and, as it's name would suggest, fresh. This particular type of cheese works great in salads.
This type of Manchego is aged for around three months, it's semi-firm and has a creamy yet slightly tangy taste.
Aged for six months, Manchego curado has a stronger, sweeter and nuttier flavor then it's younger versions. Both the curado and semi-curado are great for grating and melting!
As it's name may suggest, queso viejo (old cheese) is the variety that is cured for the longest time. Aged for a year, its distinctive sharp flavor makes this a great cheese for tapas.