Ossau-Iraty
ESSENTIAL

Ossau-Iraty

This cheese has become the ambassador of a whole region! Produced in the southwest of France, near the Spanish border, between the Basque Country and Bearn, Ossau-Iraty is a pressed cheese, farmstead- or dairy-produced. Made from raw milk from local ewes and matured for at least 2.5 months, it comes in the form of small or large tommes, which are supple with hints of hazelnut flourishes in salads, with cold cuts, in a soup...

New Aquitaine
Production area :
New Aquitaine

What you need to know

From time immemorial, there have been sheep's cheeses in this western part of the Pyrenees. The region lends itself quite well to this. Significant rains and mild temperatures favor grasslands and therefore dairy farms. Today, the Ossau-Iraty AOC, obtained in 1980 and followed by a PDO in 1996, designates the appellation area as 372 municipalities in the Basque Country and Bearn. There, nearly 1,800 shepherds raise their local breed of sheep to provide the whole raw milk needed to make Ossau-Iraty. This is done either on the farm by the breeders themselves or at the cheese dairy. In all cases, the milk is heated and mixed with rennet to solidify it. The curd formed is cut in small grains and the whey is separated out. This preparation is then molded in small (approx. 2kg) or large (approx. 5kg) sizes, pressed, drained and salted. This is followed by a maturing period of 2.5 to 12 months, during which the cheeses are carefully rubbed and turned over to ensure even maturation. Once in the kitchen, it’s all a matter of taste.

Characteristics

Look An orange-yellow to light gray rind and a white body without holes, for small and large sizes. On both, a specific label allows buyers to identify the PDO. In addition, there is a stamp in the middle depicting a sheep's head in profile for the Ossau-Iraty dairy-produced cheese and a sheep's head from the front for the farmstead version.
Touch A slightly elastic body in its youth, before becoming firmer with time.
Taste Nutty, lactic flavors, more or less strong depending on the maturation.

Nutritional benefits

While it is very rich, the Ossau-Iraty is still useful for the body by providing proteins, calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins, etc.

Editor's note

« In addition to the Ossau-Iraty farmstead and cheese dairy varieties, you will sometimes see the summer pasture variety. It is the result of an ancestral practice: transhumance. Every year, around May, some PDO shepherds, concerned with producing fodder for the winter, preserve their meadows by taking their herds to the high pastures. The milk collected on the spot is used to produce these famous Ossau-Iraty summer pasture farmstead cheeses, marked with an edelweiss stamp. »

How to use

Storage

Several weeks in the refrigerator.

Preparation

Like most cheeses, Ossau-Iraty should be taken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before eating, so that it can be enjoyed at room temperature.

Use

Most often raw, sliced on cold cuts or in a sandwich, grated into a soup, etc.

Pair with

With tomatoes, Bayonne ham, black cherry jam, melon, fresh figs, quince paste... And, in the glass, stay in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region: accompany your Ossau-Iraty with a white Irouléguy



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Maple Syrup
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