Constant sea breezes contribute to the briny taste of the Balearic island’s most iconic cheese - the DOP Mahón-Menorca. But what else should we know about this artisanal cow’s milk cheese?
It is said that the low grazing pastures on the Balearic island of Menorca, with their constant sea breezes, contribute to the briny taste of this artisanal cow’s milk cheese. Fast-becoming one of Spain’s most recognised Mediterranean cheeses, what else can we expect from DOP Mahón-Menorca?
Given that dairy cattle farming is the second biggest source of income for Menorcans - after tourism - it’s easy to understand why this very green island (declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1993) is known for quality cow’s milk cheese. What makes it so distinct is the traditional method of production that goes back thousands of years - made manually with a mold of cotton cloth, using natural, sometimes paprika-rubbed rind and preserved with cold-pressed olive oil. One of the oldest cheese-making families in Menorca still uses an actual cave for aging some of their cheeses!
The types of Mahón-Menorca available are the Origin of Mahon - made with pasteurized milk - and the Artisan Mahón - made with raw milk. The resulting Mahón-Menorca cheese flavor is mild and milky with sharp and salty notes, sometimes with a smoky aftertaste from the paprika - this varies by cheese style. Depending on the period of aging, the cheese can be further subdivided. There’s the Soft Mahón-Menorca cheese - aged from 21 days with a pale yellow color and buttery notes, then the Semi-cured Mahón-Menorca cheese - aged from 60 days and firmer with an orange or brown rind and, finally, the Cured Mahón-Menorca cheese - with aging from 150 days to give it a firm, crumbly texture, complex aromas and intense flavor.
If you want some ideas for cooking with DOP Mahón-Menorca, try a Mahón cheese and seasonal mushroom risotto, eggplant stuffed with Mahón-Menorca, or a cheesecake made with Mahón-Menorca and glazed lemon rind. Of course it’s also great all by itself - cheesed to meet you, DOP Mahón-Menorca!