Magnificent Menorcan Mahon

Magnificent Menorcan Mahon

by CountryBred Staff
by CountryBred Staff

Luscious, tangy, delectable Mahon. The words just seem to flow from the mouth when describing the creamy goodness of this treasured Spanish cheese. Born from the rugged, unspoiled Balearic Island shores of Menorca, it’s no wonder that an actual land of milk and honey could produce such a golden goodie.

History of Mahon Cheesemaking

Produced exclusively on tiny Menorca, the cheese was named after the Port of Mahon, located on the eastern side of the island. Its origins can be traced back nearly a century ago when a new class of expert cheese artisans would emerge on the island, establishing the cheese’s signature production process. Underground caves were carved for the purpose of storing and ripening the cheese, as these expert cheese artisans, known as “los recogedores-afinadores,” would use the caves to control temperature and air levels in creating the optimal cheese. Such carefully controlled production techniques would eventually lead to a superior quality product much sought after throughout Spain, and eventually the world. Today, Menorca’s exceptional cheese production is due in part to a thriving stock of cattle, which produce milk at over 600 farms on the island.

Mahon Varieties

Made from cow’s milk, Mahon is known for its sharp and savory taste. The cheese can be either soft or hard, varies in color from ivory to golden depending on aging, and comes in two different types. The first type is referred to as Artesano, and is produced from raw cow’s milk, while the second type is simply called Mahon, and is made from milk that has been preserved either through refrigeration or pasteurization. Artesano Mahon and Mahon can be aged from one month to more than five months, resulting in three variations: “tender” or “mild”, “semi-cured”, and “mature.” The tender version is a young cheese that is soft in texture, tangy and slightly savory, while the semi-cured variety is firmer, more yellowish in color, and exudes a nutty and buttery flavor. The mature cheese is hard and crumbly in texture, golden in color, and salty and piquant in flavor. While Mahon will undoubtedly gild any cheeseboard in its au naturel state, the traditional method for enjoying the cheese involves thin slices sprinkled with black pepper and extra virgin olive oil drizzled atop.

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