Sabido Rodrigues

Cheese Azoia Cheese

The approximately fifty species of grass that grow in Azóia, especially in Cabo Espichel, in Sesimbra, flavour the milk of the sheep that, there, freely graze, the raw material used in the production of cheeses from Sabino Rodrigues and his daughter Susete.

Estrada do Cabo Espichel, EN 379
2970-181 Sesimbra
How to get there
+351 212 685 328

Mini Mercado Novo Regresso
Como chegar

Introduced by
Luís Barradas

Texto de Patrícia Serrado

For over a hundred years, sheep of the Saloia breed thrived in Azóia, in the parish of Castelo, in the municipality of Sesimbra, and the cheese was made at home. Without a label, but with art and knowledge passed down from generation to generation. “My wife went on a donkey to wait for her mother, who arrived at her career, at night, after selling the cheeses. That lasted for many years! About 35 years ago, the law came to pasteurize milk and cheese, and factories were built.”

This story is told by Sabino Rodrigues, 74 years old, who built a property, where he installed his cheese factory. “The house had all the conditions”, tells us his daughter, Susete Rodrigues. “I put marble stone tables where we worked and we legalized the cheese factory”, continues the founder of Sabino Rodrigues - Queijos da Azóia. The license arrived four decades ago. “It was the 99th in the country”, claims Susete Rodrigues, but the constant demands of the law determined several expansions in the house.

From that time, he remembers buying sheep milk from other breeders. “They were much older than me. They're all dead. Now I am alone with the sheep. There are 700.” Many are native to the region, the Saloia breed. “They give less milk, which little whey goes in, but they make more cheese”, she justifies.

Back in the past, Sabino Rodrigues recalls that milk was milked during the Christmas season until the end of May, and the lamb was sold, served at the table for Christmas dinner. "Now there is milk all year round!" Part of the ewes is subjected to milking for four to five months. "Between January and May, they give a lot of milk, but if it's cold very suddenly, the amount of milk is no longer the same." The same happens on the hottest days. "Milking is done in the morning, around six, then it goes to the dairy, which is 150 meters away." More specifically, to the refrigerator, where the milk from overnight milking is also placed.

The production of buttery cheese is a lengthy process. Once done, the cheese undergoes the first cure for eight to nine days. After this time, it is washed and wrapped around a cloth and placed in the same space for four to five days. On the 12th, 13th day, it is washed again, the fabric replaced and taken to a room, where the second cure takes place, between 20 to 25 days. Concerning the cured cheese, after the fifth or sixth day of the first ripening, it is washed and placed in the space reserved for the second part of this process, which lasts between 20 to 25 days. “Cured cheese is half the work of buttery cheese”, says Susete Rodrigues, who has known this world since her childhood.

The flavour? According to Sabino Rodrigues, there are about 50 different species of herbs found in the natural pasture of Azoia and Cabo Espichel. “In the Cape Espichel beak, the herbs are seasoned with salt from the sea, which then influences the flavour of the milk and also the cheese.”

“Our strong point is fresh cheese. It is produced every day, to be sold the next day”, emphasizes Susete Rodrigues. "Removed from the refrigerator, the milk is pasteurized at 74°C and then goes out to the vat, which is in the production room." Inside this metal container, salt and rennet are added to the milk and the hands that have taken this trade seriously for decades put to work.

"We also make the curd, which takes the whey from the fresh cheese." The whey is boiled between 90°C and 100°C, to form pieces of dough, which, with the help of wise hands, shape the cheese.

Ready-made, the cheeses from Azoia de Sabino Rodrigues are sold in the family mini-market, located next door to the cheese factory, in the Municipal Market of Sesimbra and the Lagoa de Albufeira market, located in the same municipality. “In local commerce”, says Susete Rodrigues.