Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sheep Cheese from the Pyreneen Mountains

Some things hardly change. The way sheep cheese is produced in Béarn for example. Like centuries ago, beret wearing shepherds still take their flocks to the high mountain pastures in summer, accompanied by their faithful shepherd dogs.
The farms in Béarn and the Basque Country are relatively small: the herds range from 200 to 400 ewes and is conducted on a surface of 20 to 30 ha.
From May, the first flocks move to the pastures . These are the summer pastures. The sheep come down in the fall.
Conditions for the shepherds have changed over the years. Mobile phones, solar powered elictricty in far off areas and housing that is a long way from the picturesque stone sheds of a century ago.
Sheep farming plays a major role in the maintenance of 145,000 hectares of mountain land. The production season begins with the lambing. Lambs for meat are sold after 3 weeks under the red label "lamb from the Pyrenees". Most sheep are of old local breeds.
Then begins the period of milking, twice a day. Each sheep gives approximately one liter of milk per day or 100 liters per milking season.
Once the deals done, the cheese comes into play, either on the farm (by the shepherd – or his wife) or in a cheese factory.
Click here for a detailed web site full of information and pictures of Pyreneen sheep cheese making.

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