The Queijeiras of Serra da Estrela and the Aldeias de Montanha are true ambassadors of this very particular and special territory. These women are guardians of centuries of knowledge that perpetuates the unique characteristics of one of the most appreciated cheeses in our country and, we would venture to say, in the world.
The cheese produced in the Serra da Estrela region is considered one of the best-kept regional treasures, with roots in the long past of its people. We can undoubtedly say that the artisanal methods that survive today have their roots in a remote past. There are testimonies of this product from prehistoric times, which tell us that handicraft production was always essentially domestic and by women’s hands. The playwright Gil Vicente reveals in several of his works that it was women who made cheese from milk by night, by candlelight.
Several factors contribute to the excellence of this cheese produced from sheep’s milk: the specific conditions of the magnificent Serra da Estrela mountain range which is used to graze the traditional breeds of sheep, considered to be the most suitable for milk production, and a set of procedures that never fail. The shepherds leave in the morning with their flocks and carefully choose the pasture for their sheep, excluding some grasses because they make the milk taste bad. They only return in the late afternoon. For the cheese to achieve the desired quality, it must always be made from the same milking.
The project in numbers
Well, then it’s a whole ancestral ritual that has been going on for hundreds of years: women and daughters make the cheese according to the techniques that their predecessors bequeathed to them. A recipe that passes from generation to generation, with the magic and uniqueness that only the passage of a treasure can have.
With this project we want to help empower these women to transition into a successful businesswoman context, offering them the opportunity to enhance themselves professionally and incorporate management practices into their cheese dairies.