Vlašic Cheese

Milk and milk products - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Vlašic/Travnik cheese is a white cheese that matures in brine. Traditional Vlašic/Travnik cheese is made with raw sheep milk. However, it is also possible to use a combination of cow and sheep milk for its production. It is produced in the mountain Vlašic, in shepherds ''huts' (katuni) and usually kept there during ripening period.It is being produced in central Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the slopes of the Vlašic Mountain. Standardised technology of production Vlašic/Travnik cheese is very simple. Ripening period is in wooden vats and it last for at least 60 days. During this period cheese seeks adequate care and ripening conditions. It is salted before and during filling of wooden vats. The cheese is white to pale yellowish in colour, depending on the milk used. It is of a homogenous consistency, lightly sour and salty, giving out a slight acidic odour. It is usually sold in blocks and sometimes even in wooden vats. Vlakicki sir is traditionally produced using raw sheep milk from 'pramenka' breed, and was usually produced in the summer period when sheep were grazing high mountain pastures.Cheese is prepared twice a day, in the evening and in the morning. Milk is processed at a room temperature of about 28-30 degrees, in inox steel containers. Traditional local rennet is added - named 'Vlašicka maja' and is produced in the area of Travnik - and coagulation lasts for about 120 minutes. The curd is then cut into 10cm cubes, left to rest for some other 10 minutes for the curd to drain, and then it is places in fabric bags hanging on sticks. The cheese is left in the bags for 30 to 60 minutes before the bags are closed, and the cheese slowly takes the form of a round ball. Cheese is then cut into thick slices and it is left on a wooden table to settle, and It is then placed in fir barrels (Picea Abies), usually filled with 5 to 50 kg of product each. The wooden barrel is then closed and pressed with increasing weight, to ensure additional whey is removed from the cheese. The cheese is so preserved for nearly 2 months at a room temperature of 13 to 15 degrees. Vlašic Mountain is well known for its cheese. It is considered as one of the best cheeses in central Balkan. It is believed that the technology for this cheese was brought by nomadic herders, people coming to this area from the East who called themselves Vlasi. This name is also in the stem of the mountain's name. Technology of Vlašic/Travnik cheese was later transferred to other mountains in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but these type of cheeses are known under other names (mainly are taken names of mountains where the cheeses are produced).Main market place for this cheese trough history was always town Travnik and that is the reason why this cheese is also known as Travnik cheese. 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.