With this present, you not only take a piece of cheese with you. You take with you part of the Canary Islands cheese-making tradition and an emblem of the island’s gastronomic and livestock culture. Historically, this food has been part of the archipelago’s culture and tradition. It became one of the pillars of its rural economy. We would like you to get to know it in depth so that this tradition can continue.
Canary Island’s cheese and its singularity
Our cheeses do not only offer peculiar characteristics thanks to the milk of indigenous livestock they are produced with; likewise, the toppings with gofio or paprika give these cheeses a differentiating value. Other toppings also stand out, such as the smoked variety. In this case, vegetable by-products from the regional mountains are used: rock-rose, fig tree trunks, almond shells and the unique pine needles of the Canary Island pine tree.
How much cheese is produced on the Canary Islands?
The archipelago produces approximately 8,000 MT of goat cheese per year. Most of this significant quantity is sold on the islands’ domestic market. In fact, the Canary Islands is the autonomous region in Spain where more cheese is consumed, with an annual average of 9.4 kilos per inhabitant.
Which protected designations of origin do we have?
Many of these cheese varieties are covered by the so-called Protected Designations of Origin (PDO). This term is used to group the products that have remarkable quality and specificities from a region. In the case of the cheeses from the Canary Island, we find three Protected Designations of Origin (PDO): Queso Majorero PDO, Queso Palmero PDO and Queso de Flor de Guía PDO (which includes Queso de Media Flor de Guía and Queso de Guía).
The islands and their cheeses
The singularities of cheese from the Canary Islands vary depending on the island where it is produced. In the case of El Hierro, most cheeses are made from pasteurised goat’s, sheep’s and cow’s milk. They are usually made with commercial rennet and smoked with local vegetables such as rock-rose, dried fig tree trunk or dried stalks of the prickly pear cactus.
In La Gomera, most of the cheeses are produced with raw milk from different breeds of regional goats. However, here we also find typical cheeses produced by mixing goat and sheep milk from regional breeds. La Gomera produces cheeses made with natural or commercial rennet.
Raw milk from local goat breeds is used to produce cheeses from La Palma with PDO. These cheeses can be identified by their distinctive bands in the smoked coating (that is, their rind has different striped colour shades). These cheeses are produced with natural animal rennet obtained from the dried and salted stomach of suckling goats.
In the case of Tenerife, most of the cheeses are produced with pasteurised milk from local goat breeds and crossed-breeding goats using commercial rennet. Cheese varieties made with raw milk and natural rennet are also consumed in Tenerife.
Most of the cheese varieties from Gran Canaria are produced with pasteurised goat’s milk. But the most characteristic cheeses are made by mixing raw cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk in different proportions. The uniqueness of the latter cheeses lies in their production with vegetable rennet. They are known as ‘Queso Flor de Guía’ PDO.
In Fuerteventura, the cheeses are made from raw or pasteurised local goat’s milk. Their characteristic paprika coating gives them a striking red colour and the typical mark of the plaiting used for the mould.
Lanzarote’s cheeses are made with raw or pasteurised goat’s milk from different Canary Island breeds. Fresh cheese is the main variety consumed on the island, although semi-cured and cured cheeses are also marketed.
How to enjoy these cheeses?
We can enjoy the variety and uniqueness of the Canary Islands’ cheeses in countless ways. There are sweet and savoury recipes with cheese as the main ingredient or as an accompanying one. Discover the many ways to enjoy one of the main delicacies of our regional gastronomy.
Here you can find two traditional recipes to enjoy cheese in other ways different from the typical starter board.
- 1 kg fresh cheese
- 150 g flour
- 150 g sugar
- 1 tablespoon of raw dry fennel seeds
- 3 eggs
- Lemon zest of 1-2 green lemons
Grate and smash the cheese, add the sugar, the flour, and work the dough until the lumps are fine. Add the eggs, and the lemon zest of 1 or 2 green lemons. Add the teaspoon of fennel seeds. Beat well. Cover the moulds with a puff pastry dough made of water and flour. Pour the batter into the moulds and bake in the oven 50 minutes at 190ºC.
This traditional sweet is ideal as a dessert or snack.
Ingredients (quantities according to personal taste):
- Cured cheese
- 2 dried hot chilli peppers
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- Olive oil
Take a good piece of mature cheese, break it into smaller pieces, grate them and blend them. Add the peeled tomatoes cut into pieces, 3 or 4 garlic cloves, 2 chilli peppers and olive oil. Blend the mixture until it turns into a creamy consistency, like a pâté. Spread Almogrote on slices of bread, preferably on toast crackers.