Portugal
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Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste

Évora cheese is traditionally made ​​with raw sheep's milk in the Alentejo region – in the past, a rural and extremely poor area - in the eastern part of Portugal.

Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
The Alentejo region

In the past it was preserved in big earthenware jars called talhas de barro. 

Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
Talhas de barro 

The poorest workers were often paid with this cheese or other food products.

Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
Preparation of Évora cheese in a vintage photo
Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
Traditional tools used to make the cheese

The milk comes from the merino sheep breed, from animals grazed on pastures, and is processed within an hour of milking.

Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
Merino sheep grazing

After being filtered through a cloth and warmed over a low heat, the cheesemaker adds salt and vegetable rennet made from the infusion of a local variety of cardoon (Cynara cardunculus).

Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
Filtering the milk (Vintage photo)
Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
Filtering the milk (Vintage photo)
Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
Cynara cardunculus, vegetable rennet

After 20-40 minutes, the curd is broken up and placed into the forms, taking care not to compress it too much.

Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
Breaking up the curd
Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
Cheese placed into the forms 

The small cheeses are aged for around 30 days, for a semi-hard cheese, or 90 days, for a hard cheese. Initially they are turned twice a day and then just once a day. When they are ready, each cheese is washed and cleaned.

Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
The cheeses are covered in salt

Évora cheese is cylindrical and the smallest forms have a diameter of 12-14 cm and height of 2-4 cm. The paste is light yellow and the rind is yellow, but becomes darker on contact with air. It has a particularly salty flavor, which is slightly piquant and sharp.

Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
The aging phase

Today this cheese is produced both for self-consumption and for sale, but the original version is at risk of disappearing, even if in the 1996 it has become a PDO. Évora is now often made from the milk of other sheep breeds, or even milk imported from Spain, and uses industrial rennet in place of the cardoon rennet.

The future of Évora cheese is also threatened by disappearance of small family farms and the influence of hygiene laws that are highly restrictive and result in standardization.

Queijo de Evora, Slow Food, 2014, From the collection of: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity - Ark of Taste
Artisanal Évora cheeses
Credits: Story

Photos — Victor Lamberto, José M. Bicho, Teresa Da Rosa

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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