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Torta de La Serena

EXTREMADURA
Milk of Sheep
Fresh
Taste: Strong
Texture: Creamy
Pasta: Semi-hard
1,2 Kg
Soft
DESCRIPTION

A spring accident brings out the best of this product, which is the best known and tastiest. This DO is soft, has a waxy ivory color and can have small, shiny holes. The cheeses from La Serena are covered by a semihard rind that is somewhere between yellow and ochre. The sides are smooth or might be covered with the pattern of the belt used to mold it. In spring, and sometimes in winter, when the weather is cold or rainy, some of the wheels can become deformed and squat, with some cracks becoming visible on the sides, while the interior of the cheese softens to the point of almost spilling out as liquid. These are the famous “tortas” which are quite highly regarded; the more the cheese has softened, the more it is valued, though it should be consumed in a short amount of time.

PRODUCT HISTORY

La Serena cheese is one of the great marks of quality for Extremadura, though for years it had been relegated to a much more modest place next to caviar, foie-gras or truffles. The Merino sheep is to blame for making this exquisite cheese available to us. Its breeding is quite frequent in order to take full advantage of the three products it offers us: wool, meat and milk. Its short lactation period, together with its low output, gives its milk an extraordinarily nutritious quality, though this is done at great cost. Its high level of dry extracts as well as its fat content make it optimum for producing cheese.

PRODUCTION PROCESS

The curdling of the milk is an indispensable step in which the milk’s most abundant protein, casein forms a colloidal solution in the whey. This process is relatively easy thanks to the rennet’s action. In La Serena cheeses, it is obtained by macerating dried wild thistle flowers, which is the plant shepherds have traditionally used in this process. It is a very traditional method: starting with the fresh milk, as is the case of most cheeses of the best quality, the curdling takes about an hour until the paste is compact. The shepherd checks how compact it is by sticking an olive tree stick with four prongs into the paste. When it stands up on its own, this means that the curdling is finished. Next, following the traditional method, the paste is placed on an inclined table, the “exprimijo”, in order to separate the whey. The esparto belts are placed on this table, too, and the paste is then poured into them. As the whey is separated, the shepherd will tighten the belts so that the wheels gain in height. The wheels are salted on one side and then the other is not salted until the next milking. Wait 12 hours before removing the molds and placing the wheels on pine or oak shelves. After two days, the wheels are completely removed from the belts and they should be rotated daily. The cheese continues its curing process at a constant temperature and humidity.

BUY CHEESE BOARDS that include this cheese
QUESOS FROM EXTREMADURA
Ibores
Torta de La Serena
Torta del Casar
Acehuche
SUGGESTIONS FOR GASTRONOMICAL COMBINATIONS
Its slightly sharp and pleasant bitterness are befitting an aged red wine. Some other reds produced with Cabernet Sauvignon could accompany this cheese quite well. It would not be a bad idea either to try it with a little cava or champagne, little by little, to sweeten the palate.