Quesos Ugala farm

by admin on 06/10/2014

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Going south from Bilbao towards the small village of Zaballa, the landscape changed from more or less fertile to quite dry. Having arrived at the village of Zaballa, it seemed like time stood still with stone houses looking like they were built in the Middle Ages. Having met Mila, she invited us into her house. There, she told my guide that she and her husband are both veterinarians, they had studied in another part of Spain, but had decided to come here to live and work. There was also one other couple, both veterinarians, who had joined them.

After a short break, we headed out towards the barn with the young goats, all of them brown and black. After a quick look and having met Mila’s husband, Xabier, he let them outside. Then, he walked in front followed by a long row of goats and his wife behind. After having covered a short distance, the animals were let inside a pen where they could do whatever they wanted.

Having released the young ones, we passed the pig Porky on or way back. Obviously, he was fond of Mila who caressed him like a dog.

Then, we went to the barn with the adult goats, 3 males and about 80 females. The females were pregnant and they were about to stop producing milk. Of course, they would start producing milk again when the kids are born in February and March. A room next to the barn was equipped with a milking machine and the farmhouse dairy was about 2 minutes drive away.

The adult animals were also let out. Xabier brought his backpack and led them in a single file across some fields in order to let them eat grass, but also lavender, juniper, and gorse, all of which add taste to the milk. However, since this is a dry area, they aslo have to be fed cereals.

Instead, we went to the farmhouse dairy where we met Berta who was busy making cheese. Inside were various metal tanks containing milk, one of which was being heated. Having obtained the correct temperature, she added vegetable rennet in order to separate the curd from the whey, but the milk needed to rest for 24 hours before she could start separating them. In any case, the farmhouse dairy, the tanks, and the utensils all looked squeaky-clean, a requirement for all food producers.

They produce the following: aged cheese, cottage cheese, and cream cheese besides yogurt. They are sold direct from the dairy shop, various food fairs, and select shops in Bilbao.

 

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