The near-extinction of a 14th-Century Spanish cheese

Various shapes and sizes of stamped Casín cheese

The near extinction of a 14th Century Spanish cheese Credit: Monchu Calvo Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Casín is believed to be Spain’s oldest cheese but its popularity has diminished of late, leaving its survival in question. 

Casin cheese is made in the northern Spanish region of Asturias but only three Casín producers remain, as the product competes with more popular Spanish cheeses like Manchego.

The Casín cheese name comes under a protected designation of origin (PDO) meaning only very specific methods and producers can make true Casín. it is made from unpasteurized milk from Asturian Mountain, Asturian Valley and Friesian cows.

The three remaining producers include Queseria Redes, who played a significant role in reviving Casín production in the 1980s. Amongst cheeses, it has a unique method of production.

Starting with coagulated cow’s milk dried into large slabs, and then left for over a week to develop a crust and holes, they are then passed through a machine, producing curds with a strong, distinctive taste and a slightly unsavoury aroma.

These are salted and moulded into various shapes and imprinted with a stamped logo as traditional in this cheese’s long history.

Its distinctive flavour (and smell) are a product of its milk source. Asturiana de la Montaña cows (Casína) are agile mountain creatures, living more like goats, and produce a robust and fatty milk.

Casín cheese faces challenges despite its long history and numerous awards including scarcity of the specific milk types, specialised equipment, as well as the varying and changing methods of production. These complications  see new cheese-makers choosing an easier product to make, leaving only a few specialists to survive this now rare cheese.

Suggested adaptions such as offering different levels of maturity or experimenting with variations like ‘blue’ versions might expand the market but would impact the authenticity of the brand. But Casín makers are known for being adaptable and can change according to changing source products and market conditions.

Casín makers are determined to reach a wider global audience through the few remaining, but very obnstinate producers of the Asturias region, with traditional producers like Queseria Redes, Queseria La Corte and Queseria Ca’ Llechi determined to keep this traditional and historic cheese alive.

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Written by

David Laycock

Dave Laycock has always written. Poems, songs, essays, academic papers as well as newspaper articles; the written word has always held a great fascination for him and he is never happier than when being creative. From a musical background, Dave has travelled the world performing and also examining for a British music exam board. He also writes, produces and performs and records music. All this aside, he is currently fully focussed on his journalism and can’t wait to share more stories from around the world and beyond.