Carranzana Cara Negra Sheep Cheese

Spain

Pais Vasco

Milk and milk products

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Carranzana Cara Negra Sheep Cheese

The Carranzana Cara Negra is an ancient Basque sheep with distinctive black head and legs. Its head shape is like that of a mountain sheep (typical of the oldest sheep breeds), its ears large and drooping. It is the subject of a breed recovery program: currently only 500 animals remain.
It is a very rustic breed, adapted to life in the green but remote mountain pastures in the province of Biscay. The animals are taken up into the mountains, at an altitude of about 800 meters, from early May. At the end of December they are brought down to the valley to give birth and wean the lambs, feeding on the surrounding pastures. During their long stay in alpine pastures they live completely free, only accompanied by a Basque sheepdog.
The sheep are milked twice a day to produce cheese, but only during the four months from April to August. Due to the focus on recovering the breed, cheese production has been delayed compared to other sheep breeds and it is intended to extend production through August, though at lower volume.
The raw milk from the Carranzana Cara Negra is used to make a traditional semi-aged cheese of small size and distinctive flavor. The curd, made using lamb’s rennet from the same breed, is put into molds by hand and salted with salt from the Salinas de Añana, a Basque Ark of Taste product. After a few hours the cheese is turned and salted on the other side. It is then washed with water and salt at eight day intervals.
Aging continues for a minimum of two months in a fan-ventilated room until the rind has a straw color. The flavor is more distinctive after aging four months, but the cheese eaten over the Christmas festivities is the one remembered by local people. The aged cheese has a height of 4 cm and diameter of 10 cm.
The cheese is traditionally sold directly to customers by producers who have established a dependable client base. But it is now also available at markets in the region and highly regarded by top Basque restaurants, keen to promote local products.
The few shepherds who have chosen to look after a flock of Carranzana Cara Negra, sometimes consisting of very few animals, have formed an association. Cheesemaking is in the hands of four very young producers, mostly women. Only one of them commercializes the cheese.

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The Presidium aims to recover and promote this native breed, rescuing it from the risk of extinction. By highlighting the distinctive properties of the cheese obtained from its milk and promoting it, the presidium hopes to persuade other shepherds to make a living from the rich green valleys of the Basque country and dedicate their efforts to this ancient breed. The Presidium aims to encourage some local young people to take up cheesemaking, respecting the hygiene regulations in traditional workshops or building new ones. In the medium term the objective is to also revive the traditional types of cheese, rediscovering its most authentic form, made using vegetable rennet in bronze molds and naturally aged.

Production Area
Las Encartaciones, Biscay Province, Basque Countries
Five shepherds in an association and four young cheese producers
Presidium coordinator
Mariano Gómez Fernández
mariano.gomez@bizkaia.eus
The Presidium aims to recover and promote this native breed, rescuing it from the risk of extinction. By highlighting the distinctive properties of the cheese obtained from its milk and promoting it, the presidium hopes to persuade other shepherds to make a living from the rich green valleys of the Basque country and dedicate their efforts to this ancient breed. The Presidium aims to encourage some local young people to take up cheesemaking, respecting the hygiene regulations in traditional workshops or building new ones. In the medium term the objective is to also revive the traditional types of cheese, rediscovering its most authentic form, made using vegetable rennet in bronze molds and naturally aged.

Production Area
Las Encartaciones, Biscay Province, Basque Countries
Five shepherds in an association and four young cheese producers
Presidium coordinator
Mariano Gómez Fernández
mariano.gomez@bizkaia.eus

Territory

StateSpain
RegionPais Vasco

Other info

CategoriesMilk and milk products