It’s April. Spring has sprung... and so have all those baby lambs.This is when according to my good friend and cheesemaker Ann Dorward…. “These sheep don’t want to give up their milk!”
Sheep milk cheeses are well associated with Mediterranean countries, in particular France, Italy, and Spain, as well as Greece and several middle eastern countries.
In fact the popular cheese in Spain is Manchego, made from the milk of the Manchego sheep. This is the original tapas cheese, delicious served with figs, dates, nuts, and Jamon Serrano, and washed down with a bold Rioja.
Italian sheep milk cheeses are famous too and are known as Pecorino. Perhaps the best known is Pecorino Romano which is an excellent and sometimes preferred alternative to Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) depending on the recipe.
Although Pecorino Romano originated around Rome, hence the name, almost all of it is now made on the beautiful island of Sardinia. Salty and sheepy tasting, this is one of the world’s great cheeses, grated over pasta or salads.
Some of France’s best sheep milk cheeses come from the Basque region, bordering Spain.
These cheeses tend to be sweet and nutty in flavour and despite being hard they melt nicely in your mouth.
Known in France as Brebis, these mild but complex cheeses match particularly well with black cherries and pair with fruity whites and reds.
Since sheep were among the first domesticated animals in the middle east their milk has been used to make cheese for centuries.
Most of the great cheeses from these areas are made from sheep’s milk, like Kashkaval, Kasseri, Kefalograviera, and Kefalotyri, best known for its use in the classic Greek appetiser Saganaki.
However one of the most popular qualities of sheep’s milk cheese is that it is easier to digest making it an alternative for those who have trouble with cow’s milk.
So, try some sheep milk cheese and until next time,