Brown Curd Cheese

Ark of taste
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One of the local names for requeijão moreno is moreno ou frito na manteira, which translates to “butter fried curd cheese” and relates to the unique production technique used to create this product. While the final product differs among producers, and can be made in rectangular or cylindrical forms and varying sizes, this cheese will always have a compact texture and slightly acidic and highly pronounced butter flavor. The color is an opaque brown, varying from darker to lighter depending on the producer.  

The cheese is made by constantly stirring the curd as it cooks, creating veins of brown cooked curds and eyelets full of butter in the paste. The cheese is made from milk that has rested for 24 (or up to 72) hours to naturally coagulate, but sometimes a small quantity of rennet is also added. In the past, the milk would rest in brass or clay pots, but today these have mainly been replaced with metal or plastic. During coagulation, the cream that rises is removed and later used to cook the cheese mass. The curds are separated from the whey, and then fried, or “burnt” as producers say, in the separated cream. The whole mixture is stirred until compact and elastic. Requeijão moreno is normally consumed fresh, often served melted over bread and with coffee.   Requeijão moreno is made from whole cows milk in the Brazilian savannah biome called the Cerrado. Three dairy cattle breeds are typically used in this area of Alto Paranaíba: Fries-Hollands Veeslay, Gir and Girolando. Although many producers are feeling pressure to move towards intensive farming systems, some animals, especially of the Gir breed, can still be found raised only on pasture. As this dairy product is not technically considered a cheese, it is not prepared in typical processing facilities. Instead, it is often made in kitchens without special tools. Some producers continue to cook the product in wood-burning ovens.    

Requeijão moreno was widely consumed as part of breakfast until the 1970s in the Alto Paranaíba, west of Minas Gerais, parts of Triangulo Mineiro and in the border regions of Goiás. There is no formal producers network, and most sales are unofficial, between friends, neighbors and family, though the cheese can be found in some street markets, even if it is not allowed. It is considered an expensive product to make and to purchase, and requires skill and knowledge to make as the production process is not very standardized. Unfortunately, it is also common to find products sold under the name of requeijão moreno that have been adulterated with corn flour, other flours and other grated cheese mixed in, lowering the reputation of this product among consumers. 

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Minas Gerais

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Milk and milk products