Brazilian farmers are improving their techniques for making cheese. Last year, Brazilian cheeses won 14 medals at the World Cheese Awards, which took place in Spain. Two of those awards were gold medals: one went to Santa Catarina, in the South of Brazil, and the other went to Minas Gerais, in the Southeast.
The Vale do Testo cheese from Santa Catarina is produced with cow milk by the Pomerode company. Vale do Testo is a semi-hard, washed-rind cheese that is left to ripen for six months. This is the time needed to enhance its flavors of almonds and gravy, as well as its smokiness.
The other winner, Serra das Antas, is a Reblochon type, which is a cow milk cheese with a compact, semi-soft texture and a three-week maturation. Its soft consistency brings a buttery, nutty, and slightly fruity flavor. All the other 12 awarded cheeses are from the Southeast region, which includes products from São Paulo and other parts of Minas Gerais.
Brazilian dairy scenario
Tropical climate, green pastures, and tropical agriculture practices make Brazil the ideal place not only for quality beef but also for remarkable dairy production. Thus, it is not by chance that the country is the world’s largest milk and cheese producer. The quality of the dairy products is linked to the strengthening of Good Agricultural Practices and increasing control of the production process.
Around 80% of dairy farmers are smallholders that, together, are responsible for 40% of the jobs in the rural areas. Today, five local cheese products – Canastra, Serro, Colônia Witmarsum, Marajó, and Artesanal Serrano – are protected by Geographical Indications (GIs).