Thursday, May 23, 2024

The best Portuguese cheeses that you have to try

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Portugal isn’t just about sightseeing; it’s a foodie’s paradise. Local cheeses are a highlight, and we’ve got you covered. Wondering what cheese is popular or the best in Portugal? Our guide has all the answers. We’ll introduce you to the top Portuguese cheeses, each with PDO protection, so you can start tasting without delay. Your taste buds are in for a treat because it’s time to discover the best Portuguese cheeses that you have to try.

Azeitão Cheese PDO

This creamy Portuguese cheese has a strong flavor that might not be everyone’s cup of tea but can be a real treat for some. It comes from Azeitão in Setúbal, made with sheep’s milk. You can enjoy it with your favorite crusty bread or toast, and you’ll find it in most supermarkets in Portugal. If you want to explore its origin, you can visit Azeitão, which is just a 30-minute drive from Lisbon.

And no worries if you’re a vegetarian because this cheese is made using thistle flower instead of animal rennet, so it’s suitable for vegetarians.

Serra da Estrela Cheese PDO

Hailing from Portugal, this cheese is renowned for its distinctive, robust aroma. It boasts a potent aroma (which may not suit everyone) and a rich, buttery texture, making Serra da Estrela sheep’s cheese ideal for spreading on toast. It holds the esteemed title of the “King” among Portuguese cheeses.

This cheese is incredibly creamy, best enjoyed without slicing it with a knife. Instead, a circular portion is scooped from the top, allowing you to relish its melty center by the spoonful or by dipping your preferred crusty bread.

Serra da Estrela Curd PDO

If you’re a fan of Italian ricotta, then Serra da Estrela PDO curd may be the perfect choice for you and is one of the best Portuguese cheeses. This particular Portuguese cheese is produced by precipitation or coagulation, where heat is used and the final product is ideal for spreading on bread due to its soft and delicate texture. This creamy white dough-like cheese is slightly granulated, but also smooth and uniform and is another typical product of the famous Serra da Estrela. Enjoy it by itself to fully taste its flavour, or combined with honey, pumpkin jam, pieces of walnut, hazelnut or almond…the list goes on!

Transmontano Goat’s Cheese PDO

In the northwest of Portugal, we recommend trying Transmontano goat’s cheese PDO, a very hard, cured, salted cheese which is prepared with goat’s milk. Despite its deep yellow color, you will also often find red transmontano cheeses, painted with chili to intensify their flavour.

Typical of the Trás-os-Montes region, this delicacy can also be tasted all over the country. Where can you buy this Portuguese hard cheese? Almost everywhere, as there are both local shops, delicatessens and even supermarkets) that sell this Portuguese cheese. Try it with bread, in a salad or as a starter: this cheese is perfect in any way!

Évora Cheese PDO

Less dense than Trás-os-Montes goats cheese and typical of the capital of Alentejo, this cheese is a semi-hard, yellowish-coloured product that is produced with raw sheep’s milk which is from the regional Merina Branca breed.

If you visit the Alentejo region of Portugal and are a fan of salty and slightly spicy cheeses, make sure to order a good mature Évora cheese. However, if you prefer milder flavours, opt for the fresh or less mature version and enjoy its delicate but intense flavour.

Nisa Cheese PDO

Heading to Portugal’s Alentejo region, you’ll find another popular cheese: Nisa Cheese. This cheese is also made from Merina Branca sheep’s milk, and some varieties are even vegetarian-friendly, using vegetable rennet.

Nisa is a semi-hard cheese with its signature yellow color, crafted in local dairies using traditional methods. This traditional Portuguese cheese goes great with toast, crackers, or you can get creative and make a tasty sandwich to savor its delightful citrusy taste.

Rabaçal Cheese PDO

Rabaçal cheese is another one of Portugal’s most famous cheeses, produced in a village near Coimbra, Rabaçal. This white cheese is a hard, mature cheese and is hand produced from a mixture of sheep’s milk and goat’s milk. If you try it, enjoy its characteristic taste which comes from the “Santa Maria” grass, a variety of natural thyme that is abundant in the local area and is used to feed the sheep and goats that supply the milk for the production of this cheese.

São Jorge Cheese PDO

São Jorge PDO cheese is made from cow’s milk and is typically a firm cheese with a yellowish hue, achieved after about 60 days of maturation.

The cheese’s origins date back around 500 years on the Azorean island of São Jorge, and the production methods have remained remarkably consistent. The island’s lush vegetation significantly influences the quality of this Portuguese cheese, evident in its unique, slightly spicy flavor. If you’re touring the Azores, consider it a perfect souvenir, readily available in local delis throughout the island.

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