Our Manchego cheese recipe will guide you, step by step, to make a great textured and tasting homemade hard cheese.
The best part?
You’ll have more confidence with your cheese making, less stress throughout the process, and you’ll have a simple, proven recipe for a great Manchego cheese.
That’s not all…
I will bring your attention to the best ways to store, cut and use your homemade cheese.
But first, what’s the real story behind the cheese we know as Manchego?
Where Is Manchego Cheese From And What Is It?
There’s plenty of things the La Mancha region of Spain is famous for. Some of these include Don Quixote, 16th-century windmills, and cheese.
Made from unpasteurized sheep’s milk, it is among the most popular cheeses from Spain, right alongside Mahon cheese.
Traditionally it was made using grass molds which leave a distinctive, zigzag pattern that has come to be associated with the cheese.
Real and authentic Manchego cheese is made only from the Manchego sheep’s milk. But of course, any sheep’s milk will do when making this recipe at home. I have even used cow’s milk with the recipe below.
Interestingly, Manchego cheese is granted a Protected Designation of Origin status by the European Union.
Manchego Cheese Flavor And Age
This is an extremely flexible cheese, in that it can be aged from as little as 3-12 weeks, right through to 1 year or more. It is a reasonably mellow cheese but the richness of taste will depend on how long you age this cheese for.
It can be eaten within 1 month of making or left to age as long as 24 months.Cut your cheese into quarters, oil them individually and wrap them in cheese paper, then age for different periods to see what you prefer.
The Differences In Aging Periods.
- Semi Curado Cheese: This is a young cheese that is aged between one and 3 months. The semi curado cheeses are supple and moist with a fruity, grass, and hay flavor with a tangy note.
- Curado: Has been aged for 6 months acquiring it a caramel and nutty flavor. The cheese has distinct acidity.
- Viejo: Has been aged for one to two years. The cheese acquires a crumbly texture while the interior of the cheese has a butterscotch color. The cheese has a sweet, lingering taste.
This cheese is rich, buttery and becomes sweeter as it ages. The cheese pairs well with a couple of wines which includes another popular Spanish export, Tempranillo.
I enjoy pairing my Manchego with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a sherry, these work quite well for me.
How To Cut And Store Manchego Cheese
You might be wondering how to cut Manchego cheese and perhaps even more importantly how to store it.
Well, a semi-soft, and sharp-flavored cheese such as this should be preferably cut into thin slivers. The rind should be left on the outer edges for visual clues as to the type of cheese being served. But, the Manchego cheese rind is to be discarded and not to be eaten.
Cut the wedges cross-wise, then proceed to cut vertically along the rind. Slice the cheese into thin, even wedges from the top center outward.
It is very easy to store as you can either store it in your fridge or put it in your cheese cave or room that is no warmer than 20°C.
If you want to store it in a normal room, ensure the ventilation is great and the humidity levels are also low.
Place the cheese on a wooden tray and wrap it in clean waxed paper to preserve the delicate flavors of the cheese.
What Is Manchego Cheese Used For?
Depending on how old your Manchego cheese is, there are a couple of different serving suggestions.
For a young curado or semi curado, I’d recommend you ditch cheddar and replace it with a burst of flavor. Fancy a hotdog? Well, you can settle for your spicy chorizo or boerewors in a bun with grated cheese.
You can also be used in various sauces, desserts or baking projects.
My favourite way to enjoy my homemade cheese is simply by itself with a glass of wine.
How Many Calories
A single ounce contains about 90 calories.
Fat makes up 70 percent of the calories and 30 percent come from the protein in it. A 100g wedge has 320 calories, meaning the serving sizes can make a huge difference in nutrition.
How To Make Manchego Cheese
I am always up for trying new types of cheese and using sheep’s milk for a change is quite refreshing. I have however made the recipe below with cow’s milk.
The flavorful cheese is made using a fairly simple method. The farmhouse version of the cheese is made from unpasteurized milk while the industrial version is made using pasteurized milk.
The rind is inedible and has a characteristic, traditional herringbone basket weave pattern, pressed on it. A distinctive ear wheat pattern is pressed on the top and bottom parts of the cheese wheel.
This is a great video that shows the different steps of making Manchego. It is worth a watch before you start on the recipe below.
Manchego Cheese Ingredients
- 8 liters or two gallons of whole sheep’s milk.
- Half a teaspoon of thermophilic culture.
- Half a teaspoon of mesophilic culture.
- Half a teaspoon of lipase powder dissolved in half a cup of water.
- Half a teaspoon of Rennet diluted in a quarter cup of water.
- Non-iodized cheese salt for making brine.
Manchego Cheese Recipe
- Warm the milk to 30°C or
- Add the thermophilic and mesophilic cultures then stir thoroughly.
- Cover and leave it to ripen for 45 minutes.
- Add the Lipase and diluted Rennet then leave it to set for about 30-45 minutes, or until you have a clean break.
- Carefully cut the curd into 13mm or half inch cubes and leave it to rest for 10 minutes.
- Afterward, carefully stir the curd with a whisk to cut the curd again.
- Your resulting curd pieces should end up as pieces slightly larger than grains of rice.
- Very slowly and gradually increase the heat of the curd until the temperature reaches 40°C or 104F.
- It should take you about 30 to 45 minutes to reach the optimal temperature while raising no more than 2 degrees every 5 minutes.
- Stir gently but regularly once every 5 minutes or so during the scalding period.
- Once the optimal temperature is reached, leave the curds to rest for 10 minutes and drain off the whey.
- Move curds immediately into clean cloth-lined mold while being careful so as not to break them.
- Press at 7kgs/15lbs for 30 minutes then remove, flip the curd and redress. (To make sure you applying the correct pressure check out of cheese pressure calculator)
- Press again at 7kgs or 15lbs for about 30 minutes then remove, flip and redress once more.
- Press at 15kg/30lbs for 8 hours, or overnight.
- Remove and unwrap the cheese then soak it in saturated brine for 6 hours.
- Turn cheese over every hour to ensure even coverage then remove and pat dry.
- Air dry at 10°C for a week or until the cheese is obviously dry on the surface.
- Rub the surface with Olive or coconut Oil then transfer to your cheese cave.
So, go on and try our Manchego cheese recipe and let us know what you think in the comments section. Your feedback is highly appreciated as always.
Do you have any questions or comments about Manchego? Join the discussion over at the Curd Nerd Forum. We would love to hear from you!