Serra da Estrela DOP Cheese
Through its valleys, streams, mountains, and plateaus, Serra da Estrela brings us one of the country’s most prodigious gastronomical icons.
Origin and Authenticity
The mountain range known as Serra da Estrela, draped alternately in carpets of spring flowers and wintry coats of snow, holds Portugal’s glacier valleys and key water basins. For over one thousand years, long before Portugal existed as a nation, this has been the perfect setting for the creation of one of Portugal’s most prodigious gastronomical icons: Serra da Estrela DOP Cheese.
It is recognized today as one of the world’s most extraordinary cheeses but has a long history. In fact, it is Portugal’s oldest type of cheese and is mentioned numerous times in the works of the 16th century playwright Gil Vicente. It was 1287 when King Dinis of Portugal created the first cheese factory in Serra da Estrela in recognition of the natural resources and unique conditions found in the region. By that time, Serra da Estrela cheese was already a tasty, nutritious food source that boasted an excellent durability. Thus, it was always taken on journeys by shepherds and the great explorers of the day.
The virtuous combination of Man’s ancestral wisdom with Nature, with Bordaleira sheep wisely herded by shepherds in search of the region’s freshest pastures, gives rise to the legitimacy of the certificate that enables you to choose genuine Serra da Estrela DOP Cheese – Protected Designation of Origin. That wisdom bears the art of transforming, like nobody else can, sheep’s milk into cheese, adding only thistle blossoms and salt. And one other essential ingredient: Soul.
Following the calm of the Estrela mountain slopes and the vast pastures, there is the daily routine of local shepherds milking the bordaleira sheep. The milk is then taken to the cheese factories and strained using a slow, manual process that separates the curds from the whey. Pressed together by the skilled hands of women who have long been doing this, the curds are then matured for between 30 and 40 days. During this time, the cheeses are washed and turned each day until they are ready to be eaten. The DOP/PDO mark, proudly displayed by Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau in the form of a diploma certifying honorary membership of Estrelacoop after a partnership that started in 2014, confirms the authenticity of the cheese: creamy texture, soft to cut, and a unique taste arising from this passionate work.