World Cheese Encyclopaedia - Each Sunday learn all about a new cheese.
This week Gamonéu from Spain.
Country: Spain 🇪🇸
Made from: Cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk
Texture: Firm, crumbly
Taste: Nutty, buttery, smoky, spicy
Aging: 2 - 5 months
Gamonéu or Gamonedo (PDO) is a ripe, smoked high-fat cheese, with a natural rind, made from cow’s milk, sheep’s milk and goat’s milk or from mixtures of two of these three types of milk. The cheese is lightly smoked and has a light bloom of greenish-blue penicillium close to the edges. The production area is in Asturias, in northern Spain, in the districts of Cangas de Onís and Onís.
There are two varieties of the cheese. One is made up in the mountain passes; the other is made lower down, in the valley.
The version called ‘Gamonedo del Puerto’ or ‘Gamonéu del Puerto’ is made up in the mountain passes in small cheese making huts. It is made from June to September by only a handful of families, so this Puerto version of the cheese is rarer and harder to find. The milk used is a minimum of 10% sheep or goat’s milk: the rest of the milk can be sheep, goat or cow.
The second version, called ‘Gamonéu del Valle’ or ‘Gamonedo del Valle’, is made lower down in the valley, and is made year round.
The cheese is lightly smoked, with a thin, dark reddish rind that forms during the smoking process. The rind is inedible. Just under the rind, Penicillium mould develops that gives theouter edge of the cheese a greenish or bluish hue.
Gamonéu’s texture is hard or semi-hard, firm and friable with small, irregular eyes scattered throughout the pate. Inside, the cheese is crumbly, semi-firm to firm. Gamonéu is not as intense as many blue cheeses. The taste is slightly spicy and smoky with a buttery, nutty aftertaste. The smoky taste comes out more as the cheese ages.
The cheese is made in varying-sized cylinders 2 1/2 to 6 inches (6 to 15 cm) tall, 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 cm) wide, and weighs between 17 1/2 oz and 15 1/2 pounds (0.5 and 7 kg.)
The cheese is made using raw milk from cows, sheep, goats, or any combination of milk from these breeds:
The cows are Friesian, Asturiana de los Valles and Pardo Alpina breeds or crossbreeds of these;
The sheep are Lacha, Carranzana and Milschalfe breeds or crossbreeds of these;
The goats are Lacha, Carranzana and Milschalfe breeds or crossbreeds of these.
In making either version of the cheese, the milk is heated to between 75 F and 86 F (24 and 30 C.) Rennet and enzymes are added, and the milk is let stand for at least an hour to coagulate. The curd is then cut into pieces of 0.2 to 0.6 inches (5 to 15 mm), and left to drain for 1 1/2 hours.
The drained curd is then packed into moulds. The top and bottom of the cheeses are salted after 24 hours and once again after 48 hours.. The cheeses are then removed from the moulds and smoked over 10 to 12 days with smoke from ash, heather, or beech wood.
By law, the aging of the cheeses must occur in the Cangas and Onís areas, but it can take place either in caves or cellars. The minimum aging period is two months. Some makers will age the cheeses for up to 5 months. The cheeses are turned and cleaned during this aging. The mould found in Gamonedo Cheese develops naturally during this aging period. It is neither added to the milk or injected into the formed cheeses.
Traditionally the cheese was pressed in wooden forms called arniu, but now are pressed in plastic molds. The cheese is aged for at least 2 months in caves near the Cantabrian Sea. The cheese used to be wrapped in fern leaves, but this is no longer common practice.
The Asturias region of Spain has a long history of cheese making going back as far as the 1100s, according to a 1641 record prepared for King Philip IV.
How to Enjoy It
Try Gamonéu alongside a hard cider from Asturias or pair it with wine. It is also good accompanied with natural sweet white wines like Muscat from Andalucía or sweet red wines such as Priorat, Monsant, or Empordà.
Sources: Wikipedia, cheese.com, itscheese.com, jiescribano.wordpress.com, consorcioquesos.com, culturecheesemag.com, cooksinfo.com