The Ossau-Iraty PDO is a semi-hard paste cheese, produced with whole milk from sheep of Bascobéarnaise, Manech black head and Manech red head breeds. Their lactation is seasonal.
The production area of Ossau-Iraty PDO covers part of the area of the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques and three municipal areas in the department of Hautes-Pyrenées, in the regions of Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrenees.
Ossau-Iraty PDO's name comes from the valley of Ossau in Bearn and the forest of Iraty in the Basque Country, which are famous for breeding and sheep-rearing. Different Latin authors confirmed its existence in the Toulouse markets. This cheese originates from the need of farmers to transform the milk rapidly, immediately after milking, and to not transport it along the devious roads of high mountains.
Ossau-Iraty PDO is the result of an ancient pastoral tradition of the Basque Country which tells us that to obtain high-quality milk suitable to produce the cheese, the milking period must not last more than 265 days a year.
Ossau-Iraty PDO has a slightly pressed paste, uncooked and salted. It has a cylindrical shape and a straight or slightly hollow trim. The sizes vary depending on the type: the standard shape measures 26 cm of diameter, 9-12 cm of height and weighs 4-5 kg; the small measures from 18 cm to 20 cm of diameter and 7-10 cm of height and weighs 2-3 kg. On the contrary, the fermier cheese measures 24-28 cm of diameter, 9-15 cm of height and can weight up to 7 kg. The paste is homogeneous and fondant, has a ivory colour, with a few holes. The rind is hard, and has an orange-yellow colour tending to grey. It has an aromatic flavour with soft notes of walnut and traces of vegetables.
Ossau-Iraty PDO must be conserved in the least cold compartment of the refrigerator, wrapped in its original package or in a sealed box. Before eating it, it is suggested to leave it at room temperature for about one hour. It is tasted cold or used to prepare different warm dishes. It can be eaten in every moment. For example, shepherds eat it as a snack. When dry, it can be easily grated and is used to season soups and dishes au gratin. It is ideal with bodied red wines and spicy white wines from regions like Jurançon, Madiran or Irouléguy.
PDO (Protected Designation of Origin)(ES). Protected designation of origińe (PDO) stands for a product for which the principal steps for production are done following a well-established technique within the same geographical area, which gives the product its characteristics. Year of registration 2003
442 kcal per 100 gr.
25 gr. per 100 gr.
33 gr. per 100 gr.
45 - 50 %
0.5 - 1.4 gr. per 100 gr.
1.6 gr. per 100 gr.
21 gr. per 100 gr.
670 mg. ( – 17% )*
*(the difference from the average value)
5,4 - Individual visits per month (average)
130 - All individual visits
16 01 2017 - Date of publication of this article