Gamonedo is a Spanish cheese from the Asturias region on the northern coast of Spain.
It is made in two villages, Cangas de Onís and the nearby village of Onís. Both are on the edge of the mountain range called “Picos de Europa.”
The cheese is lightly smoked, with a thin, dark reddish, inedible rind that forms during the smoking process. Just under the rind, mould develops that gives that outer edge of the cheese a greenish or bluish hue.
Inside, the cheese is crumbly, semi-firm to firm. It is white or yellowish white inside, with some small holes, with greenish-bluish streaks of Penicillium at the edges just under the rind. It has a nutty aftertaste. The smokey taste comes out more as the cheese ages.
It is made in varying-sized cylinders 2 1/2 to 6 inches (6 to 15 cm) tall, 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 cm) wide, and will weigh between 17 1/2 oz and 15 1/2 pounds (.5 and 7 kg.)
The cheese is made using raw milk from cows, sheep, goats, or any combination of milk from them.
- cows are Friesian, Asturiana de los Valles and Pardo Alpina breeds or crossbreeds of these;
- sheep are Lacha, Carranzana and Milschalfe breeds or crossbreeds of these;
- goats are Lacha, Carranzana and Milschalfe breeds or crossbreeds of these.
The cheese has to be made in the Cangas and Onís areas, with milk from those areas. You can use milk from your own herds, or buy it from other farmers in the area.
There are two varieties of the cheese. One is made up in the mountain passes; the other is made lower down, in the valley.
The version called ‘Gamonedo del Puerto’ or ‘Gamoneu del Puerto’ is made up in the mountain passes in small cheese making huts. It is only made from June to September, and by only a handful of families, so consequently this Puerto version is rarer and harder to find. It costs about 38 euros a kg (2010 prices.) The milk used will be a minimum of 10% sheep or goat’s milk: the rest of the milk can be sheep, goat or cow.
The second version, called ‘Gamoneu del Valle’ or ‘Gamonedo del Valle’, because it is made lower down in the valley, is made year round.
In making either version, the milk is heated to between 75 F and 86 F (24 and 30 C.) Rennet and enzymes are added, and the milk is let stand for at least an hour to coagulate. The the curd is cut into pieces .2 to .6 inches (5 to 15 mm), and let drain for 1 1/2 hours.
The drained curd is packed into moulds. Some makers will press it in as well. After 24 hours, and again after 48 hours, the top and bottom of the cheeses are salted. The cheeses are then removed from the moulds, and smoked slowly over 10 to 12 days with smoke from ash, heather, or beech wood.
By law, the aging of the cheeses must occur in the Cangas and Onís areas, but it can take place either in caves or cellars. The minimum aging period allowed is two months. Some makers will age the cheeses for up to 5 months. The cheeses are turned and cleaned during this aging.
The mould found in Gamonedo Cheese develops naturally during this aging period. It is neither added to the milk or injected into the formed cheeses.
This area of Spain was making cheese back in the 1100s, according to a 1641 record prepared for King Philip IV. The makers of Gamonedo Cheese invite you to believe it was Gamonedo Cheese, though there’s no way to know for sure, and it’s highly doubtful.
The makers of Gamonedo Cheese applied for a European PDO for the cheese in October 2007. The cheese received its PDO in July 2008: EC No: ES/PDO/005/0308/20.08.2003
Literature & Lore
At the annual fall fair in Cangas de Onís, there is a day dedicated to the cheese.
Official Journal of the European Union (English). 9.10.2007. C 235 / 13 – 17.