cheesenotes

cheesenotes:

Culture.pl, the “comprehensive source of knowledge about Polish culture”, has a nice piece about Oscypek, a traditional smoked sheep’s milk cheese with a unique appearance:  

Food Fundamentals: Osycpek

Oscypek (os-TSEH-peck) is a decorative traditional spindle shaped smoked sheep’s cheese from the Podhale region.

Since 2008 the cheese is a protected trade name under the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin geographical indication. Two things are needed to create the regional speciality: a special breed of sheep called Polish Mountain Sheep, a shepherd, a small mountain hut with a hearth, a shepherd’s apprentice and a pastureland. This seasonal cheese is produced from May to September during sheep milking season (sometimes small amounts of milk from a special breed of cow - the Polish Red Cow is added).

The sheep of the Podhale region feed on a variety of vegetation. What they eat can be tasted in their milk and therefore the cheese. The shepherd apprentices, who look after the sheep the entire season and rarely leave the mountains in that period, have a demanding job. The animals require milking three times per day. And sheep herds have a couple hundred specimens. The milk is poured through a linen cloth into a wooden bucket, then dried rennet is added. The curdled substance is squeezed from the whey and shaped like a spindle. The decorative elements are made by putting the cheese in a wooden mould. The 17 to 23 cm long oscypek is then dipped in brine and placed under the roof of the mountain hut. It is smoked in cold smoke coming from a small fire inside the hut. The cheese matures for a period between a few to a dozen or so days. It becomes flavoured and golden.

Read the full post.

(Photos ©2014 culture.pl)