Throughout South-Eastern Europe, in countries like Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and Greece cheese mongers work fervently every day to produce an array of artisanal cheeses and give the world an abundance of cheese varieties that range from milk’s to goat’s and sheep’s or a combination of milks.
Not just in France, but cheese is produced everywhere in Europe
We often associate France with cheese production and indeed, alongside Germany and Italy, France is one of the major producers in the world while the United States produces about 29% of the world’s cheese.
We can’t tell just how many types of cheeses exist across the globe simply because there are hundreds of them, but what we can do is present some of the best varieties, and considering that Europe produces more than 56% of the world’s cheese, it is here that we find a rich cheese culture.
The Balkans particularly produce some of the best cheese in the world with varieties that sprang across regions and autochthonous products that vary from a simple semi-hard or soft cheese to delicatessens with figs, chocolate and cherries.
Cheeses of Bulgaria
- Bulgarians are renowned for their feta-style cheese, which in Bulgaria is known as sirene. Characteristics: is made from either pasteurized or unpasteurized goat, cow or sheep milk; it’s a type of soft cheese with crumbly texture, white in color and lemony flavor.
- Kashkaval is a type of semi-hard cheese, yellow in color and is typically made from unpasteurized cow and sheep milk. The taste is salty, the texture creamy and the aroma smokey. Greeks call this cheese kasseri and the Turks refer to it as Ksara.
Cheeses of Croatia
- Croatia boosts a number of hard cheeses among which Kolan Extra Mature that is aged for a minimum of 6 months and is made from pasteurized cow milk.
Characteristics: hard and has dense texture; is full-flavored with a buttery aroma; considered one of the best cheeses in the world, has won the Super gold at World Cheese Awards in 2014.
- Tezacki Sir stands out as an artisan cheese with firm texture, yellow color, rich and strong aroma; won the bronze medal at the World Cheese Awards in 2012 and the gold medal in 2014.
- Another artisan but this time semi-hard cheese is Mladi Trapist. This is made from pasteurized Dalmatian cow milk and is aged only 21 days. The resulting cheese is white in color, has a crumbly texture and a grassy, savory flavor.
Cheeses of Serbia
- Manur is made from either sheep or cow milk and is a type of hard cheese with 40% fat content. It is produced by heating the milk to a boiling temperature, then cooling and mixing with buttermilk, fresh whey and rennet.
Characteristics: has a salty flavor, a creamy texture and is hand-made.
Cheeses of Israel
- Jibneh Arabieh is found throughout the Middle East and it was initially made from sheep or goat milk. Today, this semi-hard cheese is made only from cow’s milk.
Characteristics: has mild flavor, firm texture, white color, and is great for making savory pastries.