Foods and Wines

Serena

La Serena PDO

Soft to semi-hard cheese made from whole, raw milk from the Merino sheep breed, and cured for a minimum of 20 days.

Serena-do

Production area

The production area comprises 21 municipalities in the La Serena district in the province of Badajoz (Extremadura).

Production process

The milk must be the whole natural product obtained from milking healthy sheep. It must be clean and contain no colostrum, medications or preservatives that might have a negative effect on the production, ripening and keeping qualities of the cheese and on its health and hygiene conditions.

The milk from 15 ewes is needed to make one kilogram (2 lb 3 oz) of cheese. First the milk is coagulated using natural plant rennet from the dried flowers of Cynara Cardunculus, known locally as Yerbacuajo. The pistils of these thistles are soaked in water for twelve hours in a cool, dark place. The amount of rennet to be added depends on the time of year and the desired level of creaminess.

For coagulation the milk must be at 25-32ºC (77-89ºF) for 50-75 minutes. Once the curds have formed, they are then cut until they form grains with a diameter of 10-20 mm (0.4-0.8”).

The medium temperature and the use of natural rennet make the coagulation period long and lead to fairly soft curds, with the proteolytic activity giving a less consistent texture but high dry matter content. The curds are then poured into molds formed out of plaited esparto grass bands or cylindrical metal or plastic molds to give the cheese the right shape, size and weight. This process is carried out on a sloping work surface.

The cheese is then salted either by rubbing dry salt onto the surface by hand or by immersing it in a 20% saline solution for a maximum of 24 hours. Finally, the cheese is placed on wooden shelves in a storage room called a bodega or cellar where it is ripened under constant moisture and temperature conditions.

It is turned and the bands are tightened every day until the cheese achieves the characteristic degree of creaminess and flavor. 20 days after molding, the cheese usually reaches the stage at which the paste becomes fluid, so it has to be handled very carefully to avoid breaking the rind.

Tasting notes

Characteristic aroma of sheep´s milk, with an intense, slightly bitter flavor and not at all salty. Buttery and persistent on the palate, with a slight piquancy in very ripe cheeses. The texture varies from creamy to spreadable.

Other notes

Cylindrical in shape with flat top and bottom and convex sides. 4-8 cm (1½-3”) high, 18-24 cm (7¼-9½”) in diameter and 750g-2 kg (1 lb 10 oz–4 lb 6 oz) in weight. The rind is semi-hard, a waxy yellow or ocher color, with lightly oiled, smooth top and bottom surfaces. The sides may be smooth or bear the marks of the wicker molds. The consistency varies from soft to semi-hard, and the color from ivory to waxy yellow. There may be small, unevenly distributed holes. In well-ripened cheeses, the paste and the rind are hard. Fat content must be at least 50% of dry matter. PH must be 5.2-5.9 and total protein at least 35% of dry matter.

Sources

– Spanish Ministry of Agriculture
– Regulatory Council, Queso de La Serena PDO

Regulatory Council
Consejo Regulador de la DOP Queso de La Serena
Institución Ferial de la Serena – Ctra. Ex-104, s/n
Apartado Correos 32
06420 Castuera (Badajoz)
Extremadura
Tel: (+34) 924 772 114
info@quesoserena.com
www.quesoserena.com

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