Queso Idiazabal. Designation

  • The main controls that the Mark of Origin carries out are the following:

    • Inspections: Periodical inspections are carried out in the cattle farms, the collection routes, the cheese farms and the points of sale when these are in situ.
    • Analyses: The cheese, once mature, is collected from the cheese farms and undergoes three types of analysis. Firstly, the composition is tested to ensure it corresponds to that of an Idiazabal cheese; secondly, hygiene and sanitary analyses take place to ensure no damage can be caused to human health; and, finally, a rigorous sensorial analysis is carried out by the Tasting Committee of the Mark of Origin.
    • Administrazio kontrola: By means of a complex method of data collection covering the entire chain involved in Idiazabal cheese production, automated control systems ensure no type of fraud can take place regarding the origin and type of milk and cheese. In addition, there is rigorous control of each and every one of the cheeses produced. This takes place through the unit numbering on the rind of each cheese that reveals in any given moment the name of the producer, day of production, type of milk etc.
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    • The production zone of the milk and cheese is the Basque Country and Navarra.
    • Only milk from Latxa and Carranzana sheep can be used and it must not be mixed with any other product or pasturised.
    • The minimum maturing time of IDIAZABAL is two months.
    • The minimum content of MG/ES is 45%.
    • The cheese must pass both sanitary and organoleptic testing.
    • All cheeses must have their rind numbered.

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  • The Mark of origin was born in 1987 to defend the shepherds of Latxas and Carranzanas sheep and the production of IDIAZABAL cheese, and to guarantee for the consumer its origin and quality.

    There are currently a total of around 500 cattle farms and more than 100 cheese farms that have been granted the Mark of Origin, the majority of which only use milk from their own business. In any case, their size guarantees craftsmanship and care in both production and maturing to perfection.


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  • The geographical area of production includes 33 villages of the Ribera de Navarra, being its centre the district of Tudela.


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  • In Navarre, the lands which constitute the axis or corridor of the river Ebro, from Mendavia to Cortes, have been and still are areas which produce vegetables. Among them, the probably most cultivated one is the artichoke, which digs its roots into the far away past. The encyclopaedia of Navarre dates the existence of this cultivation in Tudela in the times of the Arabic domination, although without giving an exact date. The product was being sold until the well into the twentieth century in the local markets. The installation of the canning industry stimulated the expansion of the cultivation, which began to occupy a significant surface among the irrigation crops of the region of Navarre.

    The tenacity of the farmers of Tudela have led them, after successive selection years, to the achievement of a type of artichoke cultivation known as "Blanca de Tudela", which has become the vegetative reproduction material most widely used in Spain. In fact, a significant number of farmers of the area produce, apart from the food item which is the main profitable and common use of this plant (the artichokes as we eat them) the "rootstocks", or plantation material. This material is composed by the cuttings of the underground part of the plant, which can be obtained when the harvest is over, during the summer.


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  • The origin of the artichoke is to be found on the Mediterranean basin, although the exact place is not known. It is just known as a cultivated plant (not wild) and it belongs to the family of the Compositae, with the scientific name of Cynara scolymus L. It is a herbaceous plant with has a powerful root system which provides the plant with all nutrients. On the root, a stem with very short internodes, in each of which, a leaf is formed. This makes up a set called rosette. From the centre of this rosette, the stem which is to produce an inflorescence or head which constitutes the edible part of the plant.

    The artichoke is a typical plant of warm regions. In fact, countries of the Mediterranean area such as France, Spain, or Italy gather 80% of the world production and consumption.


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  • The cultivation of the Alcachofa de Tudela is annual regarding the product destined for fresh consumption and can even be biennial regarding the product destined for canning. In the annual cultivation mode, the plantation must be taken out completely during the summer stop and substituted by a new one. In the biennial cultivations, this removal can be carried out during the second summer stop after plantation. The plantation should be done between the last two weeks of July and the first week of August, using “rootstalks” from the year before, obtained from the cultivation of "Blanca de Tudela". The rootstalk is a portion of the rhizome of the plant, with 2 or 3 cauline tips which are apparent and viable. Theplantation density will range between 8,000 and 12,000 plants per hectare, and the plantation material shall come from producers who are inscribed in the Official Register of Producers, Manufacturers, and Importers of seeds, and plants.

    The harvesting is carried out manually, selecting the artichokes depending on their stage of maturity and with successive harvesting tours, with weekly intervals on average. In the annual cultivation mode, the first fruits begin to be ready at the end of February or beginning or March, although if the biennial cultivation is forced to the maximum, it is possible to harvest something in autumn.


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  • To be able to be included in the Protected Geographical Indication, the fresh manufactured artichokes must fit in the commercial categories of Extra and First Class, being possible to belong to two calibre levels: artichokes between 60 and 90 mm and artichokes of more than 90 mm. The presentation can be:

    • artichokes with stem and leaves
      The stem can measure up to 18 cm and have 1 or 2 whole leaves. They are sold in dozens.
    • artichokes without stem
      The stem shall not be longer than 10 cm and must not have any leave. They are sold by kilograms.

    The wooden, plastic, or cardboard packages must belong to the models authorised by the Regulatory Board and to bear the back labels or bands which guarantee the authenticity of the product.


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  • The fruits destined for the canning industry, once selected by following specific criteria, proceed to the calibration process, whose purpose is to separate the artichokes in several sizes to be able to adjust the blanching process. This is implemented by inserting the artichokes in boiling water or water stem for a period which can last between two and seven minutes (depending on the size) and by refreshing them immediately afterwards.

    After peeling them (1) and removing the hard and not edible leaves, the fruit undergoes a new selection, being discarded those that are damaged, broken, etc., to carry a new classification according to their size (2). Then, the artichokes are weighted and packaged (3), and the process ends with the sterilisation (4) in the autoclave. The use of acidifier substances or additives to correct acidity is not allowed in any moment of the process.

     

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    In the market, we can find jars with whole artichokes and halves, and must always be in glass jars. Each jar must bear a numbered back label with the symbol of the Protected Geographical Indication, which certifies their authenticity, and guarantees that the product has been treated and elaborated in accordance with the Regulations.

  • All cultivation, preparation, packing and final produce certifying processes are supervised by the Regulatory Board, institution in charge of certifying the Designation and assuring that the produce included meet the requirements set by the Regulations. The Regulatory Board has also implemented a quality system in compliance with the European Standard 45011.

    INSPECTION

    The certification system which has been implemented is based upon:

    • • At field level
      It is aimed at guaranteeing the origin of the product, which must originate from the plots of land located in the 33 boroughs of Navarre included in the Regulations. To this end, all the plots of land which apply for registration in the Register of Plantations are inspected. The kind of plant which has been used is also checked. Inspectors also confirm that the yield does not exceed 15000Kg/Ha.
    • At storing level
      It is aimed at guaranteeing that fresh product is being handled in conformity with the specifications stated in the Regulations.
    • At industrial level
      It is aimed at guaranteeing that the canning system complies precisely with the specifications set in the Regulations. The different phases of the industrial preparation are inspected, confirming that no acidity corrector whatsoever is being used. Besides, some random samples are taken for their posterior analysis in the lab.

    QUALITY CONTROL OF THE FINAL PROCDUCT


    PHYSICO-CHEMICAL ANALYSIS

    These analyses guarantee that the canned food complies with the standard on canned vegetables quality and present the characteristics of artichokes (they must be prepared without acidification and the pH of the ultimate product cannot be lower than 5).

    These analyses are carried out by the Spanish National Centre for Food Technology and Safety in San Adrián (Navarre).


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  • The generalised use of rootstalks of “Blanca de Tudela” artichokes as the basis for crops throughout Spain, as well as the relevance gained by this fresh produce in the metropolitan markets of Barcelona and Madrid as well in those in the north of Spain caused growers from Tudela district to pursue an identification only for their produce.

    Consequently, in 1988 they obtained the “Alcachofa de Tudela” Designation of Quality, which only covered the produce for fresh consumption of the harvest from the geographical area comprising the domains of the following municipalities: Cabanillas, Cortes, Fontellas, Fustiñana and Tudela.

    In 1996, the EEC Regulation 2081/92 came into force in Spain, which resulted in the suppression of the concept of Designation of Quality and its transformation into any of the categories specified by the Community Regulations.

    In 1999, the efforts to transform the Designation of Quality started and in June of the same year Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Issues of the Government of Navarre was submitted an application for European registration of the Protected Geographical Indication “Alcachofa de Tudela”.

    The Protected Geographical Indication “Alcachofa de Tudela” was approved by Navarre regional government in July 2000, ratified by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in May 2001 and finally recorded in the Commission’s European Register, according to the Regulation 1971/2001, on October 9th 2001.

    According to the Regulations approved, not only fresh but also canned artichokes are protected by the Protected Geographical Indication. The producing geographical area comprises 33 boroughs of the Ribera de Navarra, with Tudela as the heart of the district.

    The Protected Geographical Indication “Alcachofa de Tudela” can include:

    • artichoke plantations in plots of land belonging to any of the municipalities of the producing geographical area, at the request of their growers.
    • those marketing or storing/wholesaling fresh produce in any of the boroughs encompassed by the producing geographical area.
    • owners of canning industry factories in Navarre who undertake to transform and market this produce, that is, “Blanca de Tudela” flowers and “heads” of crop plants.


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