Tuesday, 23 March 2021

A cheesy taste of the Canary Islands.

When you first think of the Canary Islands, I'd be happy to wager that your mind won't go directly to cheese, but these seven sun-drenched islands off the northwestern coast of Morocco not only consume a lot of cheese,  they also produce a large amount too.

Indeed,  the per capita consumption of cheese in the Canary Islands is the highest in all of Spain and each island home to at least one homegrown type of high-quality cheese. Some of these cheeses have received recognition around the world, including some of which have been granted their own “denominations of origin”.

Fuerteventura – Majorero Cheese

Majorero Cheese is made on the second largest island and was the first Canarian cheese to be awarded denomination of origin status back in 1996. It was also the first goat's cheese in the whole of Spain to be recognised. Majorero gets its name from the cabra majorera, one of the native goat species on the islands.  

The orangish rind dusted with black pepper or gofio -a kind of flour and the palm leaf imprint used to mould it make it highly recognisable. It has a mild flavour when fresh, but has a far more intense and slightly spicy when left to cure longer. At the Museum of Majorero Cheese, you can find out all about it as well as other aspects of island culture. 


La Palma – Palmero Cheese

Palmero is made from the raw, unpasteurised milk from the cabra palmera goat, which is smoked using almond shells as well as prickly pear and Canarian pine, giving its rind a dark colour. It has a light, slightly salty flavour and is usually eaten fresh, although there are also semicured and cured varieties that are popular served alongside other foods and wines.

Gran Canaria – Flor de Guía

Gran Canaria is home to “the Flower of Guía” cheese named after the town of Santa María de Guía, one of three places on the island where it’s made.  Passed the yellowish rind, you find a creamy interior which is made by blending the milk from both cows and sheep. Although sometimes goats milk is also added.  Some say it has a slightly bitter aftertaste because Flor de Guía uses an extract from the thistle flower to promote fermentation. 

There are many factors that come together that make the Canaries stand out in the Spanish cheesemaking industry, not least their wonderful weather and microclimates in many areas of the islands. Plus the three native breeds of dairy goats, which in turn feed on native plants which help create unique distinctive flavours helped by the artisan producers who often use age-old traditional techniques at the 500 or so cheesemakers on the islands. 

Borja Rausell, Jason Shaw, Josh Jordan
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