Produced in the southern eastern region of Portugal’s Regione di Alentejo, Casa Lusa Ovelha is a version of the more famous cheese Azeitão.
Raw sheep’s milk is sourced from various local flocks of dairy sheep that graze the flat land in the area surrounding the cheesemaking facility.
Between five and ten women work in the dairy depending on the season.
Similar to several other Portuguese cheeses, production of Casa Lusa involves the use of a thistle rennet to coagulate the milk.
Local thistle stamens are gathered during the summer months and dried for use throughout the year. As needed prior to cheesemaking, a small quantity is steeped in water to make a kind of “tea”. This is then strained through a cloth and the liquid added to the milk.
Between 45 minutes and an hour later, the milk coagulates and becomes curd-like, at which point it is removed from the vat using a large cloth and placed into individual molds where it is allowed to drain under its own weight.
After unmolding, the cheeses are washed with water to encourage the development of the rind and aged for approximately four weeks prior to release.
The texture of Casa Lusa is smooth and velvety when ripe, becoming harder and drier as the cheese ages. The rind is a rust-brown-colored, sometimes dotted with patches of white mold. The interior paste is ivory-white and yielding.