East European Cheese has been a delight to the senses throughout the ages. Right from the era of Roman Empire to the modern day monarchy, east European cheese has made its way in the everyday lives of people.
Nobody knows the exact origin of Cheese. As legend has it, cheese was first prepared and discovered accidentally when an Arab merchant put milk in a pouch made of sheep belly.
The rennet in the lining of the pouch must have combined with sun’s heat and separated curd and whey. That is how cheese first made its arrival to the world.
East European Cheese
East European region is mainly seen as countries bounded by culture: A cultural entity rather than countries separated by geopolitical boundaries. Having strong Greek, Byzantine, Eastern Orthodox, Russian, and Ottoman cultural influences, Eastern Europe represents a delightful fusion of traditions and styles. Due to the wide range of social, political, cultural and geographical undertones, there is no accord on the exact geographical area the region covers.
East European Cheese is an integral part of the region’s cuisine and the social and cultural identity of the people in the region. While some varieties of the East European cheese are unique to the region such as the Liptauer from Hungary, some other popular cheeses are largely influenced by neighbouring countries. For example, one of the best polish cheese Lubelski is influenced by Mozzarella.
Any traveler visiting this part of the world has got to try their cheese. The choices are many and the flavours varied. Once you have a taste for East European cheese, you will not mind putting on a little holiday weight.
Enjoy the read while we give you a tour of the best of East European Cheese from different countries.
East European Cheese from Croatia– Among World’s Finest
Other than a beautiful coastline, clear waters and sandy shores, Croatia is known to produce some of the finest cheese in the World. In 2016 and 2017, competing with more than 3000 varieties of cheese from across the globe, Croatian cheese collected major prizes for Best Central & East European Cheese.
Cheese is an inseparable part of traditional Croatian cuisine and tasting these should be first on your ‘Things to do in Croatia” list.
|Pag cheese, more commonly known as ‘Paski Sir’ is the most famous cheese from Croatia. It is prepared from a unique small breed of sheep, Paska Ovca – recognized for their salty and limited milk output. From. It is a hard, aged cheese. A perfect company to fresh fruits, honey or olive oil.|
|Usually prepared in shape of cones, Turos is a cheese from the northern region of Croatia. It is made from cow’s milk with the addition of salt and red paprika.|
East European Cheese from Czech Republic– Among the Most Aromatic “Stinky” Cheese
“The worse the cheese smells, the better it tastes” is an old saying that holds true for the stinkiest of the East European cheese, “Tvarůžky,” produced in the Czech Republic. This stinky cheese is so popular that an annual “Tvarůžky” Cheese Festival is held in Olomouc region to celebrate it.
It is a ‘must-try’ if you love cheese. If the smell is too much to bear, try their stinky cheese in an ice cream!
|Abertam cheese||A traditional Czech farmhouse hard cheese made in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), a famous spa town. This east European cheese is made from the milk of richly fed sheep. It has the shape of an irregular ball with thin yellow to orange natural rind. Used as a table cheese or for melting.|
|Olomoucké syrečky||A type of ripened soft cheese, it can be easily detected because of its strong scent, characteristic pungent taste, and yellowish color. Made from Cow’s skim milk, it’s fat content is a mere 0.6% and no chemical additives!|
|Balkánský sýr||It a type of semi-hard white salty cheese produced in Czech Republic and Slovakia. Produced from cow’s milk it is usually used in salads.|
East European Cheese from Hungary – Among World’s Best Artisan Cheese
Known to have one of the most sophisticated culinary styles in Eastern Europe, cheese might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about its food. However, they do make some amazing cheeses, much of which is made using cow’s milk. Hungary is also thought to make some of the oldest East European cheese dating back to the 11th century. Make sure to pick up a few on your trip here.
|Trappista or Monk Cheese||It is a traditional Hungarian, Bosnian and Serbian cheese. It is semi-hard and is made using cows milk. Traditionally prepared by monks it has mild flavors and melts easily. Used in cooking and also served with fruits and wine.|
|Orda/Urda||It is made from the whey of cheese using milk of sheep, goat or cow milk. It is relatively high in protein and low in fat and is often made into molds to the shape of a half sphere.|
|Pálpusztai||It is a type of cow’s milk cheese, known for its pungent smell. It is soft and almost runny.|
East European Cheese from Romania – Among World’s Freshest
Romanian cheese is probably among the freshest of all East European cheese. It comes straight into the markets from countryside farms and is an indispensable part of every Romanian table. Made using ancient traditions and the best of organic local ingredients, they have no harmful additives or chemicals.
|Telemea||This traditional white cheese is made with sheep’s milk and is the most popular in Romania. While fresh Telemea is soft and varies in the degrees of saltiness, the preserved one is almost identical to Greek Feta cheese. It is used as a table, snack, or salad cheese.|
|Cascaval /Kashkaval||It is a semi-hard yellow cheese made of sheep’s or cow’s milk. It has a smooth texture and tangy, spicy and slightly salty taste with a slight hint of olive oil. This east European cheese is called “cheddar cheese of the Balkans”|
|Brânză de Burduf||Creamy, rich, and salty, it is made from sheep’s milk and is One of Romania’s most beloved culinary specialty. Mostly used for cooking, it is mild, with a sweet, aromatic character.|
East European Cheese from Ukraine– Offering Tours on Types of Unusual Cheese
Although Ukraine is not that renowned for cheese production, it is home to some of the best East European cheesemaking brands. Cheese is one of the most favoured foods in Ukraine which is reflected by the numerous events and festivals held celebrating cheese making in the country and around the world.
|Quark/Syr||A type of fresh cottage cheese, it is incredibly popular in Ukraine and Ukrainians They put it in almost everything.|
East European Cheese from Poland- Among World’s Healthiest
Polish cheese is not only one of the most renowned east European cheese but it is also celebrated worldwide. The Polish cheese making history dates back to 5500 BC when cheese similar to mozzarella was produced in Kuyavia region in north-central Poland. The Polish produce a variety of cheeses with different flavors and textures.
|Redykolka||Popularly known as the ‘Younger sister of Oscypek Cheese’, Redykoka finds its origins in Podhale region in Poland. It is often made into shapes including those of animals, hearts, or decorative wreaths.|
|Bundz||Enjoyed massively in the Podhale region of Poland, Bundz is cheese prepared from sheep’s milk. A famous drink “żętyca,” is also produced from the whey created in bundz production.|
|Tylzycki||Yellow in color and smooth in texture, Tylzycki is Polish cheese made of cow’s milk. It is semi-hard and semi ripened.|
|Oscypek||Oscypek cheese is an extremely famous variety of Polish smoked sheep cheese. Not only is this golden-hued cheese delicious as it is beautifully shaped into spindles. Considered to be the best polish cheese, it ’s an absolute must taste!|
|Bryndza||Bryndza is cheese made from sheep’s milk and is enjoyed in the Podhale region of Poland and Slovakia. The standard cheese is salty and crumbly but some forms may be soft and spreadable.|
East European Cheese from Bulgaria– Among World’s Briniest
If you are not ‘that into cheese’, after returning from here, you will be! Bulgarians love their cheese and serve it with almost every meal. Be it salads, deserts, or pastries, cheese is an integral part of all Bulgarian signature classic cuisines.
|Sirene||Sirene is salted cheese similar to the one made in the Balkan region. Also called the Bulgarian Feta, sirene is slightly grainy in texture and is used as a table cheese, in salads, and in baking.|
|Kashkaval||Kashkaval is a type of yellow cheese made of cow milk, sheep milk, or both. It is medium hard and similar to Dutch Gouda cheese.|
|Brinza||This is one of the most popular varieties of east European cheese. It is made from sheep’s milk and is similar to feta cheese.|
East European Cheese from Slovakia–Among World’s Creamiest
The history of cheese making in Slovakia goes back to the 14th century when people from Walachia in Romania moved here along with their sheep. Traditionally cheese in Slovakia is made in farms using sheep or cow milk.
|Bryndza||Brynza is product of a sheep milk cheese made mainly in Slovakia, Romania and Moldova.|
|Liptauer||Liptauer is a spicy cheese spread made with sheep milk cheese, goat cheese, quark, or cottage cheese.|
|It is a traditional smoked Slovak cheese made from sheep milk.|
|Parenica||Another traditional, Parenica is semi-firm, non-ripening, semi-fat, steamed and usually smoked. This east European cheese is easily recognized as it is produced in strips, woven together into snail-like spirals.|
East European Cheese from Latvia– Among World’s Homespun
Although not that renowned for cheese, Latvia produces a special east European cheese that you cannot taste elsewhere-theJānu Siers (Jāņi cheese)
|Jani Cheese||Jani is a Latvian sour milk cheese, traditionally eaten on Jāņi, the Latvian celebration of the summer solstice. It has the longest tradition attached to it|
10 Strange Facts About East European Cheese
|GOOD FOR TEETH As odd as it may seem, cheese is actually good for your dental health. Cheese increases the production of saliva in your mouth, neutralizes the toxicity caused by some foods and hence prevents enamel disruption.|
|VEGAN CHEESE CONTAINS DNA iGem has discovered a way to prepare cheese proteins on the genomic level. Some of the DNA strands used in the preparation were from human beings.|
|CHEESE CAN CURE HANGOVER Next time you come home drunk from a Saturday night party, try a piece of fresh cheese. It will literally nibble away all the hangover.|
|MICE HATE CHEESE Contrary to the popular belief, mice do not prefer eating cheese. Instead they like things that are sweet to taste like fruits and grains.|
|COSTLIEST CHEESE COMES FROM A DONKEY The world’s most expensive cheese comes from the milk of Balkan donkeys in Serbia and is called Pule. It is currently priced at $576 a pound.|
|EAST EUROPEAN “CHEESE WARS” In 2012, amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Russia imposed a ban on Ukrainian cheese imports. In 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea, European nations put several sanctions on Russia. Russia in retaliation to this blocked the import of European dairy products. This resulted in an overnight growth of Russian Cheese Industry.|
|EUROPEANS LOVE THEIR CHEESE… HOW MUCH? An estimate suggests that on an average, a resident of the European Union ate 14.2 kilos of cheese (2017), The figure is only expected to increase!|
|WHY ARE EAST EUROPEAN CHEESE BLOCKS ROUND? European cheesemakers realized that rolling the heavy blocks of cheeses would be much easier than carrying them. Hence the wheels of cheese are round!|
|MOST STOLEN FOOD ITEM ON EARTH IS? Yes, according to a story published in the TIME magazine, 4% of all cheese being sold end up stolen, making it the most stolen food item in the world.|
|WHAT IS THAT THING WRIGGLING IN THE CHEESE? This Sardinia in Italy has a type of cheese with live maggots! Although it’s illegal, it’s still available in the black market.|
Food Guide: 10 Best food Items containing East European Cheese
|Bryndzové halušky||One of the national favorites of Slovakia, this is made using one of the most popular East European cheese Byrndza.|
|Cașcaval Pane||A Romanian dish made by stuffing Cașcaval cheese in bread crumbs and then frying it. It is garnished with fried or mash potatoes.|
|Cocoloși||A traditional grilled and barbecued Romanian dish. The balls of mămăligă (porridge made out of yellow maize flour) are filled with one of the East European cheese|
|Pierogi/ varenyky||These are stuffed dumplings popular in Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. Mostly the fillings include potato, sauerkraut, meat, quark cheese, and fruits.|
|Zagorski Štrukli||This is a traditional Croatian dish made using a thin pasta layered with creamy cheese.|
|Međimurska Gibanica||It is a layer cake very popular in Northern Croatia. It has four main contents: nuts, fresh quark cheese, poppy seeds, and apples, along with many additional ingredients. BEWARE: Full of calories but very rich in flavors!|
|Scovardă||It is a type of stuffed pastry crumpled around the filling usually consisting of different types of east European cheese, including urdă.|
|Mažený Sýr||It is a popular Czech and Slovak dish extensively consumed in these countries. Guess what? You will find it everywhere in these countries as it is a common street food. Fried cheese is usually served with tartar sauce and a side salad|
|Túrós Csusza||It is a traditional Hungarian savory noodle dish. It is made with small home-made noodles or pasta and quark cheese.|
|Vatrushka||It is an East European cheese pastry consumed mostly in Ukraine and Russia. Looks like a ring of dough with quark cheese in the middle.|
Top 10 Places in Eastern Europe you cannot miss!
|LOCATION||REASONS TO VISIT|
|Prague, Czech Republic||One of Europe’s most fascinating cities, Prague offers an insight into Czech Republic’s rich historical culture. The medieval Gothic architectural treasure, cultural delights at every corner, and a foodie paradise, it has something for everyone. Almost forgot- BEER here is cheaper than water!|
|Krakow Poland||While Warsaw is the capital of Poland, Krakow has always been the capital of kingdoms and their dynasties over the centuries, making it the cultural capital of the country. Very few cities can so palpably transcend through time like Krakow does. A city that has been the nucleus of myths from time immemorial, Krakow holds close to its beautiful traditions and tales. Plus there is a dragon that breathes fire!|
|Dubrovnik, Croatia||Beautiful beaches, Island Hopping, culture offerings are not the only reasons to visit this place. Local wines and snack sized treats are others. And other still is for the love of GAME OF THRONES! A 2-hour Game of Thrones walking tour will take you to Dubrovnik’s Old Town where many of the scenes from Westeros and King’s Landing were filmed.|
|Budapest, Hungary||The capital of Hungary, Budapest is well known for its architectural beauty and diversity. The festivals celebrating traditional (Finger licking good) food and drink, to music festivals, cultural festivals, film festivals, and more are a must attend. And if you just want to relax, there’s always a traditional Thermal Baths waiting for you!|
|Bratislava, Slovakia||Beautiful castles, amazing music festivals, wonderful art galleries and the mesmerising Danube river are the reasons enough to make you want to visit Bratislava. Also, they make the best use of East European cheese in their traditional cuisines!|
|Bucharest, Romania||Located in the south of Romania, this capital city has a beautiful Belle Époque style architecture that reminds you why exactly it’s called the “Little Paris.” Also you get to visit Curtea Veche Palace, home to Vlad the Impaler- the inspiration for Dracula!|
|St Petersburg, Russia||Called the “Venice of the North” because of its canals and the Neva River, travelers to Saint Petersburg can indulge in the rich culture. Enjoy the Theater, immerse in the city’s history and art at the State Russian Museum.|
|Ljubljana, Slovenia||This ancient 2,000-year-old Roman outpost will impress you with its environment-friendly ways instantly. The city center is exceptionally green and filled with pedestrian-friendly paths. It is known for one of the most progressive modern-art scenes in Europe today. The best part is the town is a backpacker’s ecstasy with budget-friendly bars, restaurants, and cafes!|
|Riga, Latvia||Riga is no less than a fairytale land with its splendid combination of gothic buildings, shaded plazas and gingerbread homes. Stroll around the Markets tasting the locally made bread, many famous east European cheese, visit the museums and churches, or wander around the expansive parks If you love water activities- you are in for a treat!|
|Sofia, Bulgaria||The capital of Bulgaria it’s every history lover’s paradise. The 2,000 years of human history is echoed in every aspect of the city- streets, art, and architecture.|
Plan a trip to East Europe soon and experience different varieties of East European cheese that will be a treat for your palate. Pair them up with wine, salads, fresh fruits or include them in your favorite European cuisines.