Portugal is not just a nation with a lot to see and do, but it’s also well-known for its delectable gourmet scene, with fresh cheese Portuguese taking center stage. There are lots to explore, from famous ones that can be found in supermarkets to small artisanal makers that can only be found regionally, at local food markets, or in specialist stores.
For your courtesy, we’ve put together a guide to take you on a tour across the country from the comfort of your own home, where you’ll discover the best Portuguese cheese the country has to offer.
Cheeses from Portugal Are Available in a Variety of Shapes and Sizes
There are no standards for cheese from Portugal: each area is proud of its unique varieties and production processes. They can be made from sheep, cow, or goat milk and can be fresh or cured, creamy or semi-hard. From the north to the south of the country, stores cater to a wide range of preferences (and pockets), so everyone can buy Portuguese cheese online anywhere.
DOP Ensures Its Genuineness
Some handmade dairy products, like wines, are labeled with a protected designation of origin (DOP). Products made in specific locations using traditional processes and ingredients are granted certification. It guarantees that the whole production process fulfills the laws for getting milk, animal breeding, product selling, and so forth.
Simply look for the DOP logo on the label to see if they meet all of the legal requirements for manufacture. Although this article focuses on dairy products having a protected classification, Portugal also makes additional high-quality traditional dairy products that don’t have the DOP stamp.
The Best Portuguese Cheese
Portugal has a long history of producing dairy products, whether firmer or softer, from goats, cows, sheep, blue, white, or yellowish. It may be enjoyed simply with bread, jam, honey, and excellent wine. The Serra da Estrela is unquestionably the monarch of Portugal cheese. It isn’t, however, the only one. There are several high-quality Portuguese cheeses all around the country.
1. Serra da Estrela
That is, undoubtedly, Portugal’s most famous dairy product. It comes from mainland Portugal’s highest peak, a region famed for the pastoral farm. The sheep who provide the milk for this product, curdled with thistle flower and classified as vegetarian. Its manufacture is still artisanal today, and as a product with PDO designation from the EU, it’s subject to stringent regulations.
The Serra da Estrela cheese in Portuguese takes at least one month to mature. The most common variety is soft Portuguese cheese, even though it can be kept until it’s hard. You wouldn’t be able to cut it into slices, in fact. Instead, you cut a hole in the surface and scoop out the gooey insides to lay on toast or bread. Expect a thick texture and a taste that lingers for a long time.
You can prepare Portuguese cheese balls using this dairy product if you have some spare time. For instance, a glass of dry white wine will enhance its salinity and intensity. It pairs well with sweet late-harvest white wines as well.
2. São Jorge Cheese
The Azores is known for its natural sceneries, verdant pastures, and grass-fed cattle on the Atlantic archipelago. Aside from high-quality meat, Azorean cows and local human skills are responsible for the Portuguese islands’ most sought-after Azores cheese, Queijo So Jorge.
This is a soft Portuguese cheddar that’s cured at room temperature until it’s hard. It’s usually cured for at least three months, but the more mature types, like Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy, are the most popular. The longer the cure, the more expensive it becomes. Still, the flavorful crystals that develop within this PDO Azorean specialty are well worth it.
Since the 15th century, Queijo de So Jorge has been made on the Azores, and it’s one of Portugal’s most best-selling Portuguese white cheese alternatives.
3. Goat Cheese from the Transmontano
It’s a Serrano breed curd dairy product made from raw goat milk. It has a firm crust and a somewhat peppery flavor. The milk is filtered curdled, and the whey is removed after being milked. After that, Portuguese goat cheese is salted and aged for at least 2 months. The peppery flavor becomes more apparent as the wine ages. Portuguese fresh cheese or grated, it’s pleasant-tasting in a variety of dishes. Fruit jellies are a tasty addition to any meal.
4. Queijo do Pico
This hard dairy product is made uniquely on the Azores island of Pico. Although the temperature on the island is severe, it’s ideal for growing cattle. The only method to use the milk generated by the island’s cattle in the past was to manufacture dairy products because the island was separated from the mainland by longboat excursions. Pico is prepared from curdled cow’s milk using animal rennet.
The curd is salted and shaped into balls, which are left to age in cold, humid conditions for a month. Pico is a Portuguese soft cheese. It’s spherical, smooth, with a yellow rind and a doughy white inside. It has an intense, salty flavor and a robust scent, and it has a fat level of roughly 50%, making it very moist.
5. Queijo de Évora
Alentejo’s traditional cheese history includes this Portuguese sheep cheese. It’s always been an essential component of the lives of peasant households in the region. The dairy product was used to pay salaries and was an integral component of the daily diet, especially for the poorest classes. Évora is created from raw milk from Merino sheep that can roam freely in the nearby meadows.
Raw milk is filtered and gravely salted before being cooked over a wood fire. It’s left to age for a month once the curd has formed. The crust of Évora is smooth and well-formed. The scent and flavor of the dairy product are somewhat sour and piquant, and the flavor intensifies as it ages.
How to Choose Portuguese Cheese
With hundreds of cheese Portuguese available in supermarkets and shops, purchasing dairy products may be downright scary. Instead of approaching the cheese counter with fear, consider it to be a pleasant experience and follow the following tips to find the best gourmet Portuguese cheese:
- Take chances. Don’t purchase the same dairy product every time. Instead, select one that resembles the one you know you enjoy. Sure, it’ll taste different, but most of them with comparable appearances have similar flavor features.
- On the box, look for taste hints. While not every box has them, those that do, will include phrases such as creamy, soft, tangy, sharp, strong, and aged. These are markers of the cheese’s style and taste features.
- Expect a flavor that lasts a long time. Most dairy makers tend to agree that the flavor duration distinguishes an excellent dairy product. It implies that the flavor will linger with you for a time after you first taste it, rather than fading completely.
- Like in other food, the quality-price ratio is frequently applied in the cheese world. But that doesn’t always indicate that the more costly dairy products are, the most delicate tasting is. That means you should aim to get the best option you can afford.
If you don’t live near a dairy shop or don’t know where to start your search, just follow these easy recommendations. You’ll never be afraid to purchase Portuguese cheese again.
Where to Buy Portuguese Cheese?
When you visit a Portugal city, you’ll quickly discover a great number of dairy product shops. The following are some of the most common stores where you may get it: Continente, Pingo Doce, Mini Preço, Jumbo, and Lidl. If an area is known for its dairy production, you may be sure to locate a store selling its special food. However, there are online stores where you can buy cheese: Queijaria Cachopas, Mercadão, and Queijo de Seia.
What Is Azores Famous For?
In a vacation spot, the Azores has everything you might want: low pricing, breathtaking landscape, fantastic food, empty beaches, hundreds of treks, and even more vistas. The Azores are a perfect getaway for everyone who enjoys being outside, regardless of what activities they enjoy. It’s well-known for whale viewing and offers good snorkeling and diving opportunities. The greatest way to see the villages, hills, cliffs, and beaches is by biking or trekking around them.
What Does Sao Jorge Mean?
Sao Jorge is an island known for its fajas, coastal plateaus, and many of its smaller communities. Since it was historically supplied to seafaring personnel to feed them for several months at sea, Sao Jorge is also a powerful, matured dairy product that can endure the rigors of shipping. It’s prepared by mixing fresh milk from morning and evening milking together. It has a thick, smooth rind with a buttery flavor to it.