Mahón-Menorca PDO is produced on the island of Menorca, the northernmost and second-largest of the Balearic islands in the Mediterranean, near Spain. The island has been named a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, due in large part to traditional practices that help preserve the natural ecosystem—including grazing cows freely on fields bordered by dry stone walls.
Cheesemaking on Menorca goes back as far as 2000 BC, and today there are two types of Mahón-Menorca PDO cheese. Made on dairy farms, artisan Mahón-Menorca starts with raw cow’s milk, and the curd is molded in a cotton cloth called a “fogasser.” Mahón-Menorca cheese starts with pasteurized milk and is shaped in a mold; otherwise the process for the two types of cheese is exactly the same. After being molded into its signature rounded square shape, the cheese is pressed, brined, and aged for 60 to 150 days. During the maturation process, the rind is rubbed several times with olive oil and pimentón (Spanish paprika), which gives it the characteristic orange color.
What is PDO?
Awarded by the European Union, PDO—Protected Designation of Origin—means that a cheese is made in a specific place, by specific, time-honored methods. The standards for Mahón-Menorca PDO, which includes every aspect of the cheesemaking process—from what the animals are fed to how and where the cheese is aged—are enforced by a consortium, the Consell Regulador D.O.P. Mahón Menorca. For cheesemongers and consumers, the PDO seal is a guarantee of authenticity.
Mahon-Menorca PDO cheese has flavors of butter and toasted hazelnut, with slight acidity and a touch of salt. With age, these flavors intensify, and spiciness appears in the oldest pieces. In Menorca, this cheese is traditionally enjoyed with bread and olive oil, fruit such as grapes and melon, or fig jam. It is also versatile in the kitchen—excellent for melting, and even for using in desserts. The cheese needs an assertive wine to stand up to its intense flavors, such as Madeira or a Rioja.
Create a Mahón-Menorca cheeseboard
- Manzanilla Olives
- Orange Blossom Honey
- Dried Figs
- Marcona Almonds
- Picos Crackers
- Jamón Serrano