La Setera - Artisan Cheesemaker in the Arribes Del Duero
La Setera is a Cheese & Wine company based in Spain in a cute little town called Fornillos de Fermoselle. We met Sara (cheesemaker) and Pachi (winemaker) and asked them a few questions.
Here is the first part: La Setera - Cheese Making.
Meet the Maker: Hola Sarah, can you tell us more about your story? Because if I am right, you were not born in Spain, what brought you here?
Sara Groves-Raines: The project is joint between my husband Pachi Martinez and myself. Pachi is Spanish from Leon and I am British born in Brussels and brought up all over Europe.
We are both biologists interested in conservation and came to the Arribes area in 1993 where we decided to make goats cheese as a way of living here as we loved the area. We saw the potential back then as there were no small producers, only people making cheese for personal consumption in their homes.
The area is a natural park and has a very rich birdlife.
The "Alimoche" or "Egyptian Vulture", typical in the area
Understand the project: When did you start making cheese? Can you tell us more La Setera?
Sara Groves-Raines: We started making cheese in 1994, basically taught ourselves with a 5 day course in Santander.
La Setera is the valley which leads down to the Duero and where the goats traditionally would graze. We have always bought the milk from the local goat herds although we did have up to 120 goats during a few years to try to diminish the seasonality of the milk production, but difficult to find someone to help with them.
The milk is very good quality as the goats are feeding outdoors every day of the year.
The Cheese: How many types of cheese do you make? During which season?
Sara Groves-Raines: We make four types of cheese: the pressed kilo cylindrical goat cheese, the fresh and matured kilo and half rulo goats cheese (“chèvre type”), and in the winter months a blue kilo cheese made from goat and ewes milk and a small goat pyramid cheese (250 gams) also matured with a mouldy rind.
There is a lot of milk production in spring and nearly none at all in autumn.
You use goat milk, is it a choice?
S.GR: There is now more sheep milk in the area, but traditionally it was more of a goat milk area.
Or is it due to the area you are producing in? Are you using milk from a special breed?
S.GR: There is a local breed called “agrupacion de la meseta”, it is well adapted to the area although produces less, but better quality than other breeds.
Wanna make cheese? To give an idea of cheesemaking to our reader:
For a kilo of fresh goat cheese, how many liter of milk do you need?
S.GR: Depends on the time of year, the temperature and grazing greatly affect the richness of the milk, in spring 4l in winter 3l for the fresh rulo cheese
For a kilo of cured goat cheese, how many liter of milk do you need ?
S.GR:10l in spring summer, 6l in winter.
For our readers that want to become Cheesemaker would you have 3 pieces of advice or more?
Think small (don´t make huge investments go little by little).
Make a cheese similar to the traditional local cheese.
Buy second hand machinery and do as much yourself as possible.
Join small cheesemakers association they have a lot of good advice when you're starting out.
if you want to check out their website click here