Author Topic: Cheese from Tatra Mountain Regions  (Read 1813 times)

Offline Traditional Goats

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Cheese from Tatra Mountain Regions
« on: June 03, 2012, 09:32:29 AM »

Not sure exactly where I should post this, so I dropped it here! :)

I found this short article and wonderful pictures of the sheep herders and of them making cheese.  So now I really want to go on vacation and take my own pictures!

I was wondering, where can these molds be found?  I doubt I would ever use them but they are beautiful. 

And second, is there any way to purchase cheese like this from a small farmer and have it shipped?  Or if needed, a larger distributor?  I prefer to always buy from the farmer if possible but I really want to try it.  If for no other reason that the process from start to finish is amazing.


Offline Oberhasli

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Re: Cheese from Tatra Mountain Regions
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2012, 12:00:37 PM »

Thanks for posting that article.  Interesting to look through.   Those cheeses do look amazing.

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Offline hoeklijn

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Re: Cheese from Tatra Mountain Regions
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2012, 12:37:53 PM »
Nice post, always good to see ancient handcraft.
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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: Cheese from Tatra Mountain Regions
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2012, 09:47:42 PM »
I don't have any mold or sheeps milk but tried it once with cows milk, not bad but I wish I could try the real thing. Here is the info I found  a few years ago of you want to try making it.

"Oscypek - Poland
Etymologically connected with the production process, the name ‘Oscypek’ can be derived from two words — from the verb oszczypywać, meaning ‘to pinch repeatedly’ in the sense of beating (stage 6 of the production process) and from oszczypek, a diminutive form of oszczep, meaning ‘javelin’, in reference to the characteristic shape of the cheese.
‘Oscypek’ has the shape of a double cone or spindle. It is between 17 and 23 cm in length, between 6 and 10 cm in width at its widest point and weighs between 0.6 — 0.8 kg. When cut it has a light cream colour, darker at the rind, but a shade closer to white is also permissible. The rind has a strawcoloured gleam, light brown, and a soft shine. ‘Oscypek’ is produced exclusively in the period May to September and may only be sold whole.
The chemical composition of the cheese depends on the duration of smoking and also varies depending on the season: water content is no greater than 44 %, dry mass content not less than 56 %, and fat content in the dry mass not less than 38 %.
Geographical area:
In the Śląsk voivodship the area includes:
— Municipalities (gminy) in the Cieszyn district (powiat): Istebna
— Municipalities in the Żywiec district: Milówka, Węgierska Górka, Rajcze, Ujsoły, Jeleśnia and Koszarawa
In the Małopolska voivodship the area includes:
— The entire Nowy Targ district and the entire Tatrzański district
— Municipalities in the Sucha district: Zawoja and Bystra Sidzina.
— Municipalities in the Limanowa district: Niedźwiedź and part of the Kamienica municipality,
which is situated within the boundary of the Gorczańskiego National Park or south of the Kamienica river and the following sołectwa (municipal subdivision) in Mszana Dolna municipality:
Olszówka, Raba Niżna, Łostówka, Łętowe and Lubomierz
— Municipalities in the Nowy Sącz district: Piwniczna, Muszyna and Krynica

Method of production:
Stage 1 — Sourcing raw materials — the milk used in the production of ‘Oscypek’ comes from the breed ‘Polish Mountain Sheep’. Cow's milk, if used at all for production, comes from the ‘Polish Red Cow’.
Stage 2 — Cold maturation (acidification) — the milk is kept at room temperature so as to increase its acidity.
Stage 3 — Warm maturation (acidification) — involves mixing soured milk with sweet milk. The proportion of sheep's milk used in ‘Oscypek’ production must not be less than 60 %.
Stage 4 — Adding rennet — rennet is added to the milk.
Stage 5 — Coagulation — formation of coagulum.
Stage 6 — Beating of the coagulum — using traditional tools, e.g. a ‘ferula’.
Stage 7 — Settling — lumps of cheese settle on the bottom of the container.
Stage 8 — Removal of whey — up to 50 % of the whole.
Stage 9 — Removal of cheese — pressing of grains and removal of cheese.
Stage 10 — Grinding — the mass of cheese is ground by hand, a ball is formed and placed in a container with whey.
Stage 11 — Pressing of the ball — the ball is shaped and then pierced (opened) with a skewer.
Stage 12 — Shaping — the ball is pressed along the skewer until it takes on the shape of a double cone. A ring is placed round the cheese at its widest point.
Stage 13 — Final smoothing — the ring is removed and the cheese is squeezed and smoothed by hand. It is then placed in cold water in order to preserve the shape obtained.
Stage 14 — Soaking in brine — for up to 24 hours.
Stage 15 — Drying — the cheeses are dried over a period of between 12 and 24 hours.
Stage 16 — Smoking — maturation — smoking is carried out using cold smoke and lasts between 3 and 7 days.
The ‘Polish Mountain Sheep’ from which the milk used to make ‘Oscypek’ is obtained is an upgraded variety of the primitive cakiel sheep found in the Eastern Carpathians and Balkans. The breed is closely linked with the history and tradition of the Podhale region and the local population. It is extremely well adapted to the climatic conditions and traditional methods of breeding in mountain areas. Moreover, the Polish Mountain Sheep pastured in Podhale feed on very diverse and unique vegetation, which affects the composition and taste of the milk, and consequently gives the product processed from such milk its particular taste and aroma.
Insofar as cow's milk is used in production, it may only be milk from ‘Polish Red Cows’, the oldest Polish breed of cattle. For centuries the breed has been associated with the Slavs, and until the end of the 18th century the Polish Red Cow was the most common breed found on Polish soil. The first red cattle herds were established in 1876 at Stróża in the Limanowa district. The year 1895 saw the foundation of the Polish Union of Polish Red Cow Breeders, attached to the Cracow Agricultural Society. This marked the beginning of systematic husbandry and consequently led to the formation and improvement of the breed between 1884 and 1934. The cattle became recognised as the only indigenous breed of cattle reared on Polish soil. The particular vegetation found in the area of ‘Oscypek’ production also has a major influence on the end taste of the sheep's milk used in the production of the cheese. The endemic species of vegetation concerned are found only in Podhale, where they make up meadows, pastures and mountain pastures.
‘Oscypek’ is an ancient product of the Wallachian shepherds who tended their sheep in upland
meadows. The cheese was brought to the Podhale region together with the Wallachians' culture, their way of organising pasturage, their traditional bacówka log hut and their way of processing the milk. The first evidence of cheese making in Podhale and the neighbouring areas is found in the charter of Ochotnica village in Gorce. In 1416 Dawid Wołoch (David Valachi) received the right of charter.
The first exact description of how cheese was to be made in the log huts comes from the rules of the ‘Slemieński State’. They were drawn up in 1748, and in 1773 they were rewritten and prescribed for use. In 1830, Ambroży Grabowski, in his description of the highlanders, mentioned that they built log huts for the whole summer in the mountains, ‘to which they bring their sheep from all around, and make their cheese (oszczypek)’. A more detailed description of sheep pasturage, the log huts' equipment and cheese (including oszczypek) production is given by Maria Steczkowska (1858). This was also the first such detailed description of the vessels used by shepherds in the Tatras to make cheese. The production of ‘Oscypek’ cheese is also tied to the specific and exceptional skills of the producers. Their experience and knowledge passed down from one generation to the next enable them to carry out the entire production process in the appropriate manner.