French Moments

Ossau-Iraty – a full-cream ewe’s milk cheese from the Pyrenees.

Ossau-Iraty is a full-cream ewe’s milk cheese with a slightly pressed and uncooked pâte and a natural yellow-orangey or grey coloured rind.
The fat content is at least 50%.


Origins of Ossau-Iraty

Ossau-Irati cheese © French Moments
Ossau-Irati cheese © French Moments

Manech and Basco-Béarnaises ewes have always lived in the lush and often rainy landscapes of the Atlantic Pyrenees. Their milk was used to make a typical handcrafted cheese.

Today, Ossau-Iraty is made traditionally on farms or in cheese factories.

Pic du Midi d'Ossau © Myrabella  - licence [CC BY-SA 3
Pic du Midi d’Ossau © Myrabella – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Ossau-Iraty production area

Produced in an area covering the département of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques and a small part of the Hautes-Pyrénées, Ossau-Iraty has a name which reminds us of its two original provinces: Béarn and the Basque Country where mountains cover much of the land, which elsewhere is hollowed out by deep valleys, in others covered with thick forests.


The production of Ossau-Iraty

Ossau Irati © French Moments
Ossau Irati © French Moments

Ossau-Iraty-Brebis-Pyrénées is made as in the old days solely from milk of the Basco-Béarnaises or Black or Red face Manech ewe breeds.

The curd is kneaded, moulded and pressed by hand or with the help of mechanical presses, and is then salted with coarse salt.

Affinage lasts for at least three months in a damp place.


Selection and tasting of Ossau-Iraty

Shaped like a flat cylinder, it comes in two sizes: 4-7 kg or 2-3 kg.

Ossau Iraty can be eaten at all times, at the end of meals or between them. In its original region, it constitutes lunch for the shepherd or dessert for the farmer.

Being a dry cheese, it can be grated easily and is used as a condiment in a soup or a gratin.

It suits well-structured red-wine and full-bodied white wines from its original region such as Jurançon, Madiran, or Irouléguy.

Ossau-Iraty received the ‘appellation d’origine contrôlée’ label in 1980.

Ossau-Iraty © French Moments


 

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