Serra da Estrela is a cheese from the mountainous region of Serra da Estrela, in Portugal . It is one of the most famous, not only in Portugal but also among appraiser all over the world. The region is now demarcated. The production of this cheese is very controlled to ensure high quality. They are only made during certain months of the year - the first cheeses arriving from the towns higher up and later from the towns lower down t, where the frost arrives later. Its production has very rigorous rules and the region is subdivided in the regions of Nelas, Mangualde, Celorico da Beira, Tondela, Gouveia, Penalva do Castelo , Fornos de Algodres, Carregal do Sal, etc. This is a VERY rich cheese produced in the Serra da Estrela Mountains. It's made from the milk of local sheep that graze in these mountains and live on wild herbs. Anything else cannot be called a Queijo da Serra.
Serra can be eaten when it's runny at which point its buttery and reminiscent of Brie. Or it can be eaten ripened and firm. It is made of sheep milk, mostly during the months of November to March. Its maturation period has specific norms and must last thirty days at least. According to its maturation it becomes creamy pouring out or thicker. It is a cured cheese from artisan work with half-soft paste, creamy, white or slightly yellow, uniform (without holes or just a few) obtained from slow draining of curdled-milk, after raw sheep milk coagulation, with Cynara cadunculus thistle. The shape is a low cylinder with side camber and a little in the upper face, not having precise tacks. It shows a soft well formed rind, smooth and thin, with an uniform straw-yellow color. Its scent is intense and the savor reveals a soft, clean "bouquet" lightly acidulous
The are is the highest rang in mainland Portugal, where shepherds follow ancient grazing paths that predate the Roman invasion. Shepherds actual held off the Romans for more than a century. Thus the production of cheese is a way of life as much as anything else – and the world of serra cheese may in fact be one of the oldest in the world.