Manchego cheese is a popular Spanish sheep's milk cheese originating from the La Mancha region. This hard, buttery, pale yellow cheese has a distinctive flavor profile that offers a mix of nutty, tangy, and savory notes, depending on its level of maturation. Manchego is available in aged variations ranging from two months to two years, with its taste growing more robust and intense as it ages.
Ideal for various culinary endeavors, manchego cheese is perfect for tapas, cheese platters, or simply as a snack with bread, olives, or quince paste. It also melts beautifully, making it a delicious ingredient for pasta dishes, sandwiches and casseroles.
When cooking with manchego cheese, a common mistake is not understanding how the different ages of the cheese will affect the overall flavor of the dish. Younger manchego—actually referred to as 'semi curado'—has a mild flavor, which can get lost in strongly flavored dishes, while older, 'curado' and 'viejo' manchegos have stronger, more robust flavors that can dominate other ingredients. To get the most out of manchego cheese, consider the other flavors in your dish and choose a manchego that will complement them, rather than overpower or disappear.
A little known trick when working with manchego cheese is that like many hard cheeses, it grates more easily when it’s cold. So, if you have trouble with it crumbling while you’re trying to grate it, just put it in the fridge for a bit to firm it up. Another tip is that manchego cheese can be used to add an unexpected twist to traditional dishes – try using it in place of Parmesan on pasta or a Caesar salad, or melt it onto a grilled cheese or pizza for a gourmet touch.
Can I eat the rind of manchego cheese?
What is the age difference in Manchego cheese?
What can I pair with manchego cheese?
Can manchego cheese be melted?
Can Manchego cheese be used in baking?
Can I use Manchego in place of Parmesan cheese?
Is manchego cheese lactose friendly?
What is the texture of Manchego cheese?
Does manchego cheese have to be refrigerated?
Can I use manchego cheese in desserts?
Expiration & Storage Tips
When does manchego cheese expire?
Opened: When properly stored, opened Manchego cheese can last 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator. Unopened: If kept unopened, Manchego cheese can last for up to 6 months in the fridge, under ideal conditions. Compared to printed date on package: Regardless of the printed date, if your cheese has signs of spoilage such as mold, avoid consuming it. Frozen: In the freezer, it can last for up to 2 months, though there may be a slight loss of flavor and texture.
How do you tell if manchego cheese is bad?
Manchego cheese is a robust, hard cheese and its signs of spoilage are typically clear. Look for any discolouration, or white, blue or black spots of mold. If the cheese has taken on an altered smell, (not the usual pungent, savory aroma) that also tends to be a clear sign— Manchego cheese shouldn't smell overly sour. Taste is another indicator; if the cheese tastes sour or bitter, it's time to throw it out.
Tips for storing manchego cheese to extend shelf life
• Store your Manchego cheese in the refrigerator, ideally in the cheese drawer, which maintains a more constant temperature.
• Avoid storing cheese with strong-smelling foods as cheese can easily absorb odors of other foods.
• Wrap the cheese in parchment paper or wax paper rather than plastic wrap. This allows the cheese to breathe rather than sweating and developing mold.
• Once the cheese has been cut, its exposed surface can dry out quickly. To prevent this, cover the cut surface with olive oil, which forms a 'seal' that keeps the cheese from drying out.
• If you need to freeze it, grate the cheese and put it in an air-tight freezer bag. When you want to use it, there’s no need to thaw - you can sprinkle it straight from the bag into your dish.