Maó cheese is made with cow’s milk, unlike majorcan cheese which uses goat’s milk. Its production started in the 18th Century, during the british occupation, thanks to the increase in cattle breeding, mainly friesian cows, and to the large production of milk obtained. It was held in such high esteem that an english engineer even said that “the italians prefer menorcan cheese to their own parmesan”.
At present most of the production is industrial, although this cheese is still made the traditional way using the old methods. To do this, the milk is curdled using herbs, wrapped in a very fine white cloth and moulded into shape by hand until it becomes compact.
Already in 10th Century the arabs were talking of the excellence of minorcan cheese according to a document dated at that time. Since 1985, maó cheese has had its own denominación de origen (guarantee of origin) and is protected by a regulating council. Its shape is square and there are different types depending on the length of the maturing process, with different aromas and flavours.
The maturing period of the mild cheese (queso tierno) fluctuates between 21 and 60 days.
The semi-mature variety (semi-curado) matures for two to five months. It is orange coloured, although if it is prepared the traditional way it acquires a brown colour. It is firm, easy to cut and the most well known of all.
If the maturing period is longer, the cheese is known as mature cheese (queso curado), much harder and with even more intense flavour.
Minorcan Cheese, a delicacy for the palate.