Mihaliç Cheese

Milk and milk products - Turkey

Mihaliç Peyniri, Kelle Peyniri Mihaliç peyniri or Mihaliç cheese, also known as Kelle peyniri, is mostly produced in city centers like Bursa and Bal?kesir nearby areas in northwestern Turkey. It is called Mihaliç because first production took place in the town of Karacabey (originally named Mihaliç). With 200 years of history, today this cheese is produced mostly by livestock breeders who migrated from Albania during the Ottoman period. Today, Mihaliç peyniri has no standard production method. Cheesemakers traditionally used to produce it with 100% raw sheep's milk (from the local Kivircik breed), but now it is made with 100% cow's milk, or a mixture of cow, goat and sheep's milk. This is due both to consumers' changing taste preferences and the fact that sheep's milk is no longer produced in sufficient quantities to make a 100% sheep's milk cheese. To make the cheese, curds are hung in cheesecloth in balls about the size of a human head. This is where the cheese's other name, kelle peyniri, with kelle meaning head, comes from. These cheeses are put into a saltwater brine for one to two weeks, and are then ready for consumption (or, in some methods, further aging). The final product is pale yellow and hard, crumbly and grainy in texture. In Bal?kesir province, especially in Susurluk and Manyas, salt-free production is also common. There are a number of threats facing Mihaliç cheese. Currently, there are fewer people living in the area who breed sheep for milk. Also, the artisanal cheese is mostly produced in small dairies in Gönen and Manyas provinces, but there are industrial companies selling products named Mihaliç cheese in supermarkets throughout Turkey.