Kajmak from the Sheepskin Sack

Milk and milk products - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Kajmak is a soft creamy dairy product produced in the Balkan region and in the Middle East. In the Balkans, however, the main producers of kajmak are Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. But what is specific for Herzegovina is that producers in this area are producing kajmak in the sheepskin sack. It is always produced in traditional way, in households of mountain areas. Its characteristic flavour is due to the presence of high-quality local cow milk and specific herbal composition of pasture. But also sheepskin sack gives characteristic flavour and aroma to this product. Kajmak is usually produced from cow's milk, but can also be obtained from sheep or mixed milk (cow and sheep milk).Ripened kajmak, usually in form of lumps, has yellow colour and strong taste while fresh kajmak is white-coloured, soft and easy to spread. Its colour and taste depend on how long it matures and on the type of pasture. Fresh kajmak is stored in wooden barrels while aged kajmak is stored in a dried sheepskin sack.The traditional method of production prescribes simmering the milk. When the heat source is shut off, the cream is skimmed and chilled and mildly fermented for several days. The process is repeated with each new quantity of available milk. It has a high percentage of milk fat, typically about 60%. It has thick, creamy consistence and rich, mildly sour taste. Fresh kajmak can go on sale after 10 days of aging.Long time ago, when modern refrigerators did not exist, making kajmak was the only way to utilize huge quantities of the milk produced in the area. Namely, dried sheepskin sack, with aid of salt, has the ability to preserve this diary product for a relatively long period. Kajmak is usually served as appetizer or as a condiment to several dishes. It is best consumed as a starter served with cheese, bread, dried meat and salami and peksimeti (deep-fried dough). Kajmak is an excellent combination with boiled and roasted potatoes.The war, which recently took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina, highly affected rural areas. After the war just a small number of the rural population returned to their homes. Majority sought opportunities in urban areas. So, the number of producers reduced.Another reason for the decline in production of kajmak from the sheepskin sack is because production has not yet been legally regulated which presents a significant problem for its sale on the markets. Producers of kajmak are not connected at all, they don't have association, and they are not resolving their problems. Furthermore kajmak is not standardized as product, and there are great variations in characteristics and chemical composition. Even kajmak is an excellent product with specific flavor and taste, due to all listed problems this product is at risk of disappearing.