The Jewish culture of lactic products
The Jewish culture is very partial to lactic products. They are a prominent feature in our rich and varied gastronomic tradition. There are even some celebrations, such as Shavu'ot o Hanukkah (Shavu'ot o Pentecost, is the Feast of the Weeks, and Hanukkah is the Feast of the Lights, whose dates coincide with those of Christmas), where exclusively lactic meals are served.
Keso blanko (white cheese), an emblematic lactic product of Jewish gastronomy
Keso blanko, or white cheese, is a basic ingredient of Jewish gastronomy. A variety of this cheese has been developed in all countries where Jews have lived. As its name indicates, it is white and it has a pasty texture and delicate flavour. Made from sheep's milk or a blend of cow's and sheep's milk, it is produced by way of controlled clotting, where natural rennet or bacteria of the lactobacillus type are added to the milk.
The main types of white cheese produced in Spain are:
: This is the most popular among all the fresh cheese, being mild and digestible. Formerly it had been made from sheep's milk, but now only cow's milk, or a blend of cow's and sheep's milk is used. It is eaten with honey, quince jelly or walnuts (a traditional dessert from ancient times), as well as it is used in salads. As its name already reveals, it is produced in Burgos (Castilla-León).
: Traditional fresh cheese without fermentation. Of soft but compact texture, in some regions it is called "Pata de Mulo" (Mule's leg). It has a very nice and fresh flavour and goes well with raw or tepid vegetable salads. Two varieties are produced: fresh cheese and mature cheese of pressed paste. Traditionally it is made from pure sheep's milk, or mixed with cow's milk. It is a product of the regions of Valladolid, León and Zamora.
: A white, mature cheese of pressed paste, practically without rind, with lactic flavour and a salty taste. It is produced in some regions of Castilla-León.
(In Spain, the kasher brand is Albe Lácteos del Jarama, according to the Rabinato de Madrid).
Also produced in Spain:
Mozzarella: of Italian origin, it has a mild flavour and round shape, without rind.
Quark: of centre-European origin, it is very light and elaborated from skimmed milk .
The production of kasher cheese and other lactic products in Spain is mainly concentrated in the regions of Castilla-León, Galicia, Asturias and Barcelona. The Jewish quarters closest to lactic production in Spain are those of Toledo, León, Segovia, Ribadavia, Oviedo, Girona, Barcelona and Tortosa.