Excellence from Andalusia, The Payoyo Cheese
Discover one of the highest quality cheeses made in Spain.
In recent years, Payoyo cheese has won awards at international events, and it can now be found in world-renowned restaurants. It is one of the highest quality cheeses made in Spain.
Is Payoyo a type of cheese or a Protected Designation of Origin?
Well, neither of these are correct. Payoyo cheese is produced the Payoyo S. L. factory, established in 1996. It is made with milk from native breeds of the Sierra de Cádiz in Andalusia, Spain.
The Payoya goat and the Merina Grazalema sheep (often erroneously called Payoya sheep) are two species that freely graze the Natural Park Sierra de Grazalema, and Sierra de Ronda. Both are classified as endangered species at risk of extinction.
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So, is there only one Payoyo cheese producer in the area?
Not at all! Many cheesemakers use only Payoya goat milk to make their cheese and the number of small cheese producers in the area is increasing.
Worldwide recognition of the quality of this cheese has favoured Payoya goat breeders to expand their activity and set up more cheese factories. Selling specialty cheese is often more profitable than selling milk at market price therefore more producers are opting for the former.
So, how are they allowed to label their cheese?
As we previously explained, cheesemakers from the area cannot label their cheese as Payoyo, simply as a registered business name. However, they can label it as cheese made from Payoya goat milk, in Spanish, raza autóctona 100% Payoya.
The Payoya Goat
Payoya Goat breeding provides the livelihood of many families in the region. The name Payoya finds its origin in the municipality of Villaluenga del Rosario, in the province of Cadiz, one of the birthplaces of the breed, where locals are called “Payoyos.”
Types of cheese
Local milk farms make three types of cheese:
Pasteurized milk is used for both the first and the second, but not for the third, which is sometimes made with raw milk. Additionally, other types of cheeses (soft paste, with herbs, pepper, etc.) and other dairy products (cottage cheese, yogurt, etc.) are beginning to be produced and sold more successfully.
The place to visit
The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park stands in front of the Mediterranean Sea, like a massive wall pictured with beautiful small white villages.
Its serious picks receive the generous storms that arrive from the Atlantic, storms that make this massif the rainiest place in the southern Iberian Peninsula. The climate contributes decisively to the beauty of this place that boasts rivers, reservoirs, and waterfalls, as well as lush forests and wide valleys. A perfect spot for hiking lovers.
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