There is plenty to gush about when it comes to the pleasures of eating Manchego cheese. Especially when it is fresh and locally sourced from a cheese specialist. That’s why it can be quite the challenge to replicate the rich yet smooth textures and flavours of the Manchego cheese with the right substitute.
When living abroad, you’ll find that many local kinds of cheese have names that you can barely pronounce. That’s why this article will give you enough information about Manchego cheese substitutes and how to identify them properly when living abroad as well.
manchego cheese substitutes
For those of you who are lactose intolerant, this article may seem like it’s difficult for you to read due to the tempting nature of cheese. Trust me, at some point, I would have sacrificed all the chocolate in the world for a slice of cheese.
While trying to go vegan and eat more sustainably, I’ve had to find the perfect vegan manchego cheese substitutes countless times. Therefore, if you keep reading, you’ll find out that there are vegan alternatives to getting a similar result to Manchego cheese. Let’s start with the basics and learn why Manchego cheese is so sought after.
Manchego cheese history
Manchego cheese is a Spanish cheese from the La Mancha region. For more details, click here. You might also know it as ‘queso manchego’. It is made with sheep’s milk and usually requires at least 60 days to age. Generally speaking, it can age from 60 days to 2 years.
The more the cheese matures, the heavier and more complex it gets. That’s why when looking for Manchego cheese substitutes, it is best to look for cheeses that mature roughly the same amount of time.
Manchego cheese has a beautiful firm consistency and a buttery texture. Sometimes when you have a slice of Manchego cheese, you might even find small air pockets. In terms of colour, the most common colour of the cheese inside is ivory-yellow.
Sometimes it can be white depending on maturity levels. However, the exterior is coated with a brown-beige inedible rind. So when you are eating the slice of Manchego cheese, cut off the edges. Trust me, they are not so pleasant to eat.
With respect to taste, it has a distinctive flavor of sheep’s milk. It is not as overpowering as other cheeses, it is developed yet subtle. You have to try it! It’s delish! To learn more about it, click here.
Manchego cheese is made from:
The best part about Manchego cheese is that it has a PDO status, meaning ‘Protected Designation of Origin’ set forth by the EU. It is also protected under Spain’s DO status, meaning ‘Denominacion de Origen’. Altogether, the PDO status certifies that:
- the cheese has been produced within a specific area in the La Mancha region
- it has been made from the whole milk of the Manchega breed sheep
- the cheese aged for a minimum of 60 days and maximum of 2 years
- it was produced by a cylindrical mould with maximum height of 4.7 in (12 cm) and a maximum diameter of 8.7 in (22 cm).
Depending on age and maturity, there are 4 different varieties you can get when it comes to Manchego cheese:
- fresco – very fresh cheese that is about 2 weeks old
- semicurado – semi-firm cheese. It can be aged anywhere from 3 weeks up to 4 months.
- curado – semi firm cheese aged from 3 to six months. It holds gorgeous nutty flavours.
- viejo – meaning ‘old’ in Spanish, aged from 1 to 2 years. It is rich and it grates well too.
how to serve manchego cheese
You usually serve it in very thinly cut slices with some quince or chutney. The other day I ate Manchego cheese with an extraordinary honey-date and garlic chutney. An incredible combination of the intense flavours of the cheese. Of course, I don’t even have to say that it is best enjoyed with a heavy dry red wine like a cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir or Shiraz.
I recommend wines from Southern sunny locations like Sicily, South of France from the valley of Rhone, Californian or Israeli. They are all a match made in heaven with the Manchego cheese! Just thinking about this combination makes me feel like I am on vacation!
So, as you can see, finding substitutes for this amazing cheese can be difficult. Here is a list of cheeses you can consider as appropriate Manchego cheese substitutes.