Smoked Circassian Cheese

Milk and milk products - Turkey

Smoked Circassian cheese is produced by Circassian people living in Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Israel and the republics of Adygey, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachi Cherkess in Russia. It is possible to find this cheese in the local markets. While not much known about its history, it has been produced for centuries in northern Caucasia, Circassians' motherland. In Turkey, it is mostly produced in Marmara region on the west coast, in the cities of Adapazar? and Izmit. However, there are also large dairies that make an industrial version sold under the same name. The traditional smoked Circassian cheese is mainly produced from cow and sheep milk on family farms. It is produced with whole milk and is quite rich terms of fat, but it does not have a very long shelf life. The production method involves boiling the milk and then adding cheese or yogurt whey in order to coagulate the milk. Then the curd is transferred into a special cheese basket to drain the whey. It is salted on both sides, and, if it is not destined for fresh consumption, it is hung in the sun and turned frequently. Finally, the Circassian cheese is wrapped in a cloth and smoked on a special plate with a stove. For this step, the use of acorns is crucial to the traditional method, as the characteristic taste of the cheese comes from the smoked acorns. Economic problems for small-scale producers, a lack of interest from younger generations, and increases in European Union hygiene procedures threaten the future of this traditional Turkish cheese.