We were very excited to have visited the Sierra Crestelina cheese factory in Casares, Málaga province. As they define themselves: “a small family business of traditional goat cheese makers.” And I couldn’t agree more, they make goat cheese the traditional way indeed. The experience was amazing: making cheese from fresh milk, milking the goats, visiting the facilities and the best, being inside with the goats to touch them and feel them. Asking Nico this afternoon what he liked most, he has confirmed what I suspected: milking. I remember when I was a little girl and I milked goats in my home town … those indelible memories … I hope they are so for Nico too.
The visit to Sierra Crestelina cheese factory
The visit to Sierra Crestelina cheese factory began at 9:30 sharp, luckily we were organised and miraculously arrived on time! We began with making the cheese by mixing the rennet with the milk then leaving the liquid to set. Then we went to see the goats. Here we were able to feed them, watch the milking with the machines and manually milk Lola, the most docile goat of all. This has been very cool. The kids enjoyed it very much, petting the goats, the dogs … and soaking up the smell of stable! As well as the germs!
Is there anything more cute than a little kid cuddling a baby goat? They loved it!
Making the cheese at Sierra Crestelina cheese factory
Finally after the visit to the stables we washed our hands and finished making the cheese. In the time that we have been with the goats the milk has curdled. We then drained the rennet and put the curd in the moulds to make the cheese. Maybe this is what the kids have enjoyed most, very manual and very sensory. And of course it wasn’t all work so we had some fun with the hats!
A bit of history: Sierra Crestelina cheese factory back in the day
Historically, these beautifully carved cheese boards were used to press patterns on the cheeses. The cheese makers were going to sell their cheeses in Gibraltar until Franco closed the border in 1969. Firstly because they could sell them for more money. Secondly because they could bring things that in a small town in Andalusia was more difficult to get such as sugar, chocolate, coffee etc … Old times.
Finally we were able to enjoy tasting some of the cheeses, time for the adults enjoyment! First the fresh, then the semi-cured and finally the cured. Delicious!
We have been the whole family. After the tasting session we have enjoyed our lunch in the shade of a wild olive tree nearby with spectacular views of the valley. And we had some freshly made cheese!
Curious facts about the production of goat cheese in the Sierra Crestelina cheese factory
- To curdle the milk should be and stay at 38 degrees which is the body temperature of the goat.
- There are both animal and vegetable rennets, but Juan the chief cheese maker there uses only the vegetable rennet, so his cheese is considered vegetarian.
- Juan’s goats go out every day to graze in the surrounding countryside.
- A Payoya goat , the type they have in this dairy, can give a litre to a litre and a half of milk a day.
- The amount of milk required to make a cheese varies according to the time of year. In spring when the goats graze more fresh grass milk contains more water. In summer, drier grass less water and more fat. Therefore in spring more milk is needed to make the same amount of cheese.
- The Payoya goats and especially this way of livestock are in danger of extinction. It is not as productive as other methods of livestock and is lost, so it is important to support it. Going to the visit and buying your milk is the best way to do it.
Would I recommend it the visit to Sierra Crestelina cheese factory?
Totally. I must clarify that this is not a post sponsored by them, and that they at time of writing are unaware of this post. As constructive criticism that I have also told them there is that there is a lot of talk and the kids can get a bit bored. The problem is that as the workshop is for children and adults. The part of the talk is important for adults. There have been times when Nico asked me to leave however, asking him if he wants to go back with the goats and to make cheese he told me that yes, he does 😉 That’s what matters.
Have you ever made cheese? Or milked some animal?
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