Protected Designation of Origin

The Designation

From ancient times farms were structured in farmhouses which were self-supplied through crops and products derived from mutton and beef livestock. It was the surplus of the milk obtained that allowed the elaboration of these cheeses. Once the production for their own use was obtained, the excess cheeses were taken to be sold in the weekly markets where all the other cheeses of the area converged, and where the gradual advance of communications allowed a small commercial expansion.

From the 1980s, due to the requirements of the sanitary hygienic regulations, the first professional cheese factories dedicated to the production and commercialization of this type of cheese were founded.

The evolution of this cheese over time had a definitive impulse in 2003 with the award of the Protected Designation of Origin "Afuega'lPitu", through which its elaboration is promoted and protected in those geographical areas which have been traditionally producing it and where they have kept the most deeply rooted elaboration techniques.

Description and presentation

Afuega'lPitu is a fatty cheese that can be fresh or matured, made with whole cow's milk from the Friesian or Asturiana de los Valles breeds and their cross-breeds, with a soft crust formed by lactic coagulation, and which is white or reddish-orange if paprika is added.

The physical characteristics of Afuega'lPitu cheeses are as follows:


Truncated cone

Its shape is acquired by using moulds with a truncated-cone shape.

‘Trapu’ or courgette

This shape is acquired by using a cloth, ‘Trapu’ in Asturian language, which is tied at the top by its ends. Therefore, its folds are imprinted on the surface of the cheese.



Between 5 and 12 cm.


From 200 to 600 grams.


Between 8 and 14 cm. (at its base).

They have a natural crust and variable consistency depending on the degree of maturity and the addition of paprika.


As a result of the two shapes described in its elaboration, and whether paprika is added to the curd or not, they are given the following traditional names:

Atroncau Blancu

Truncated-cone shape, unkneaded, with a white colour.

Atroncau Roxu

Truncated-cone shape, kneaded, with a red-orange colour.

Trapu Blancu

Courgette shape, kneaded, with a white colour.

Trapu Roxu

Courgette shape, kneaded, with a red-orange colour.


The chemical characteristics of the cheeses are as follows:


minimum of 45% over dry stratum


minimum of 35% over dry stratum

Dry Stratum

minimum of 30%


between 4.1 and 5.0

Their sensory characteristics are:

They have a white colour with a tendency to turn yellow, or orange-red if paprika is added, as they mature. Fresh acidic and lactic flavours and aromas are appreciated, with a hint of butter, which evolve into some yeast touches. In the first stages of their ripening there is also a rather soft and adherent texture that does not allow an easy clean cut with a knife.

In the case of cheeses that have been ripening for longer, the evolution of yeasts is more remarkable, developing flavours that remind of mushrooms or a slight bitterness which is perfectly integrated into the rest of flavours and aromas. As for the texture, it presents a harder crust that crumbles easily.

In the case of the varieties of red cheese, known as "roxu", all these characteristics are enhanced and combined with an intense spicy sensation, provided by the paprika that is added to the curd during their elaboration.


The Regulation for the Protected Designation of Origin Afuega ‘l Pitu was approved in a Resolution of August 6th, 2003 by the Ministry for the Rural Environment and Fisheries of the Principality of Asturias and subsequently ratified by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in June 2004.

Finally, on July 26th, 2008 the Specification for the PDO Afuega'lPitu was published and the PDO was officially inscribed in the register of Protected Designations of Origin and Geographical Indications of the European Union.

Specifications for Afuega'lPitu cheese

Historical link

Dairy and cheese productions are intimately linked to the history of Asturias. In the absence of previous testimonies, Afuega'lPitu cheese has appeared in written documentation since the 18th century as a tax payment currency, although until the 19th century, it was also called called ‘queso de puñu’ or ‘fist’ cheese. Félix Aranburu y Zuloaga describes it at the end of the same century as the "primitive fist cheese or Afuega’l Pitu that is common in almost all the areas of Asturias". On similar dates, the work ‘Asturias’ written by Octavio Bellmunt and Fermín Canella insists on the extension of these cheeses, naming them as "the most common ones everywhere, called Afuega’lPitu or with other names".

In the riverside regions of Narcea and Nalón, where it is most abundant, the name Afuega'lPitu is given to a set of cheeses with quite diverse characteristics and peculiarities of shape, in ripening times and flavours. In general, two fundamental varieties of Afuega'lPitu could be pointed out in this area, defined by the type of curd (first phase of cheese making) and the ripening time of each of them.

A first variety would be composed by the cheeses obtained from an acidic or spontaneous curd; a type of curd obtained by accentuating the natural fermentation of milk by means of heat. The second group of cheeses would be those made from freshly milked milk kept on hold for a certain time until acid coagulation begins, and then adding a small amount of rennets (substances extracted from the stomach-curds of ruminants).

Depending on the type of curd, two different containers were used to make the cheese, a gauze or cloth and a perforated clay vessel called ‘barreña’ or ‘quesera’. The acid curd required, due to its lack of consistency, a more closed container than the ‘barreña’ -through whose holes it could be drained – therefore, a cloth was more favourable. The curd obtained by acidification and small amounts of rennet, on the other hand, was compact enough to be dried in the ‘barreña’.

For both types of cheese moulding, there are different ripening times. The first seven or eight days, it gives rise to a fresher cheese called ‘cuayau’, with hardly any crust.

In the central area of Asturias, in the surroundings of Sierra del Aramo, fresh cheese was mixed with paprika, producing the so-called ‘cuayau roxu’.

On other occasions, the cheeses were cured somewhere ventilated and sheltered such as an ‘hórreo’ (traditional Asturian construction supported by columns that served to store grains and other agricultural products) or the house gallery for three or four months. The cured product was a dry and hard cheese, with little crust and a whitish hue.

All these peculiarities in the cheese elaboration, which were developed over time, gave rise to a unique product with four traditional varieties, differentiating these, only in the red or white colour, according to whether paprika had been added or not, and in the shape obtained, according to the moulding system used; ‘atroncau’ being the one moulded in the ‘barreña’ and ‘trapu’ the one which was moulded in cloth.

Linked to nature

The climatic conditions of the delimited territory are defined by persistent and mild rain (‘orbayu’ or drizzle), high clouds, low sunlight and moderate thermal fluctuations with mild temperatures.

As for the composition of the soil, it is an area of a slightly acidic nature (pH 6.9-6.5), and with a high content of organic matter, which allows a natural diversity in the pastures, with the meadows presenting the greatest diversity of botanical composition, in species of agronomic interest.

These climatic and soil characteristics are shown in the product through the basis of animal feeding, the key of dairy production.

Due to this diversity, the dairy production of the area is very abundant. In addition to its high quality, it presents a determined composition, especially with regard to fatty and organic acids, which are developed into specific organoleptic characteristics in the final product.

The climatic conditions of the area also influence the development of the cheese making process itself, adapting the time-consuming coagulation, draining and ripening to these specific climatological characteristics of the area (high humidity and mild temperatures), which contributes to its special texture.

As for the topography of the area, there are steep slopes located within the short distance between the coast and the watershed, which may give rise to two well-defined spaces.

These characteristics have led these areas to the orientation towards livestock production, as a means to get the most out of the excellent natural resources in the steepest lands, which are therefore less suitable for agricultural activity, and of the wide plains in the valleys crossed by Nalón, Narcea rivers and their tributaries.

The mountainous landscape meant that historically, communications were difficult, so self-sufficiency was promoted, favouring spontaneous acidifications in the surplus milk, which would evolve to the acid coagulation cheese that we know today as Afuega'lPitu.

Geographical Area

Traditionally the areas of influence of Afuega'lPitu cheese were located between the basins of Narcea, Nalón and Caudal rivers, where this cheese had always been maintained thanks to the weekly markets. In this way, when the Designation of Origin was created, the natural scenario around Nalón and Narcea rivers, the largest ones in Asturias, was protected along with Sierra del Aramo.

The municipalities that make up this area are: Morcín, Riosa, Santo Adriano, Grado, Salas, Pravia, Tineo, Belmonte, Cudillero, Candamo, Las Regueras, Muros del Nalón and Soto del Barco.



Polígono de Silvota, parcela 96, 33192 Llanera (Asturias)

P.: (+34) 985 264 200

F.: (+34) 985 265 682

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Logotipo Denominación de Origen Protegida Logotipo Consejeria Desarrollo Rural Recursos Naturales Principado Asturias Logotipo Alimentos Paraiso

Su experiencia en este sitio se mejorará al permitir las cookies Aviso Legal