Idiazabal (pronounced ee-dee-ah-ZAH-bahl) is an unpasteurized sheep milk cheese from the Basque and Navarre regions in Northern Spain. The cheese has a firm texture, with very few tiny holes or no holes at all. The cheese is aged at least 60 days. Eaten fresh, it has a nutty, buttery flavor. Aged Idiazabal is harder and is suitable for grating.
Idiazabal comes in both smoked and non-smoked varieties. The smoked cheeses are usually drier and have a stronger, sometimes saltier taste. The rind on smoked cheese is often dark brown. Unsmoked Idiazabal has a yellow rind. The rind is hard and inedible.
The name Idiazabal is protected in Europe. The cheese can only be made in the towns of Aralar, Entzia, Gorbea, Orduna, Urbasa, and Urbia. The milk must be whole milk, with at least 6% milkfat, from the lacha (or latxa) breed of sheep. The carranzana breed may also be used.
The wheels are turned often during the curing of the cheese, and the rinds are brushed with oil. Smoked varieties are smoked near the end of curing, and may be smoked with the wood of beech tree, birch tree, cherry tree, or hawthorne.
Idiazabal is made only on small farms, by many different farmers. It has been a staple of sheepherders whose sheep graze the Pyranees for many generations
Idiazabal should be stored in your refrigerator in foil or wax paper, so it can breath.
If you can read Spanish, the best site for more information on this cheese is here: www.doidiazabal.com/.
Where to buy
latienda.com has Idiazabal cheese
The variety that they sell has been smoked with cherry and hawthorne wood and has been aged 8 months.