Ibores Info

Where is Ibores from

Ibores is one of my all time favorite cheeses of Spain. It comes from the far west of the country, until recently, perhaps one of the least known parts of Spain.

The region it comes from is the land of extremes, as noted by the name, "Extremadura."

This is a region of hot, dry summers; cold winters, and mountain ranges separated by vast flat plains, where little grows beyond low grasses and cork oaks. Much of the area, not being suited for crops, instead provides a home for herds of sheep and goats, which supply some truly unique cheeses from the region, and the foraging pigs that make up the famous Iberian hams.

The Cheeses of Spain

When I talk about Spanish cheese in my workshops, I often ask participants to name 3 Spanish cheeses. "Manchego" is the quick response, and then the group usually goes quiet. This is primarily due to the lack of cheese being exported from Spain and a direct result of the failed leadership of Francisco Franco in Spain for almost 40 years.

During this period many of the cheeses typical to small regions were outlawed in favor of large commercial cheese factories. Fortunately, many of the rural cheese makers ignored this edict and continued making and selling cheese in their local "underground", but none traveled or were exported.

The map shown to the right is a good example of the diversity of these Spanish cheeses that survived this period. Today we are beginning to see more of these cheeses being introduced to the world marketplace and this is a very good thing.

The one positive thing about this limiting production of many Spanish cheeses is that it preserved some of the historical cheeses from becoming overly industrialized and losing their traditional character. When the ban on making these cheeses was lifted, one by one those that remembered the details of how they were made came forth and revived the traditional cheese as they best remembered them.

This is the case in the area we focus on in this recipe, Extremadura. Located in the far west of Spain, tight against the border of Portugal, Extremadura remains a land of herdsmen. It is a vast expanse of scrubby, semi-cleared forests of holmoak, cork oak, pine and beech and is known as the 'Dehesa'. This wild, often communal, pasture land provides the ideal grazing conditions for sheep and goats, both of which provide milk for a range of outstanding regional cheeses.

What is Ibores?

Ibores is a full fat cheese made from goat milk. The local stock of Serrana, Verata, and Retinta goats are well adapted to the region and thought to be introduced by the Moors centuries ago when they occupied much of Spain.

The cheese is traditional pressed cheese and of medium moisture, with a ripening time of 3-4 months or longer.

Traditionally, the cheese was made with no added culture, working only with the natural bacteria of the milk and milking environment. However, due to fermentation problems over the years, many producers have switched to using prepared cultures to improve the success of this cheese. Unfortunately, some folks with long taste memories have begun to notice a drift in flavor and aroma from this change in process.

The most unique quality of the cheese is the orange-red rind due to the coating of the surface with the local smoked paprika and the olive oil, both of which are produced in the area.

The flavor and aroma of this smoky paprika blends well with the bright supple character of the cheese. Over the time that the cheese spends in the aging room, this flavor permeates the cheese. It is a truly wonderful way to finish the cheese.