Azeitão

Photo of Azeitão Cheese
Adriao | CC BY-SA 4.0
Important Facts
Country of Origin Portugal
Specific Origin Palmela, Sesimbra, Setúbal
Certification PDO (1996)
Milk Type Ewe's milk
Milk Treatment Raw, coagulated with vegetable rennet from thistle
Texture Semi-hard, sticky, almost pudding-like
Flavor Rich, unique, ranging from medium to strong
Flavor Notes Acidic, salty, slightly bitter, spicy, pungent, with grassy, herbaceous, and nutty aromas
Aroma Grassy, herbaceous, and nutty
Colors Yellow, with few small eyes
Forms Cylindrical, 4-9 ounces (100-250 grams)
Age About 20 days in summer or 40 days in winter

About Azeitão Cheese

Azeitão is a Portuguese cheese with a PDO designation, named after the village of Azeitão at the foothills of the Arrábida mountains. It is produced exclusively in the municipalities of Palmela, Sesimbra, and Setúbal. Azeitão cheese is crafted from raw ewe’s milk and coagulated using vegetable rennet from the thistle flower. The process involves salting the milk and adding the coagulant to form a stable curd. After cutting and molding, the cheese is hand-pressed and ripens for twenty days in summer or forty days in winter, with frequent turning and rind washing.

The cheese is characterized by its rich flavor and semi-hard, yellow paste with a sticky, pudding-like appearance. Its taste is medium to strong, with acidic, salty, slightly bitter, spicy, and pungent notes, complemented by grassy, herbaceous, and nutty aromas. The diverse microflora of Azeitão cheese includes Lactococcus lactis and lactobacilli like Lactobacillus casei ssp. casei. Azeitão is enjoyed as an appetizer or dessert, paired with artisanal bread and red wine.

Made from unpasteurized sheep's milk in Portugal's Setubal, Palmela, and Sesimbra regions, Azeitão cheese is semi-soft, artisanal, and creamy. It features a pale yellow color and a washed rind, with a herbaceous, salty, and sour flavor. This vegetarian-friendly cheese, also known as Queijo de Azeitao, uses Cardoon thistle for coagulation. It undergoes a minimum curing time of 21 days, resulting in a buttery and semi-soft consistency with few or no holes.

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