Traditional Cheese Recipes from Romanian Villages of Bucovina
Each morning, afternoon and evening, Nicanor and his sons make a cheese of 26 lbs. After milking, the sheep are taken out for grazing by one of the boys. (read more Shepherd Hand Milking Sheep in a Rustic Sheepfold )
The milk is carried to a hut (comarnic) for cheese making. Here, Nicanor and his sons will prepare the traditional cheese recipes.
The boys pour the raw milk into a wooden barrel with a strainer cloth on top (budacă).
To speed up the curdling process, lamb rennet is added while the milk is still warm. It comes from the stomach of newborn lambs, not older than 6/7 days. In 30 minutes, the enzymes will separate the curds and whey.
To remove the whey, the cheese is broken into small pieces with a special wooden tool.
Then, he puts it in the draining cloth and ties the corners around the curd. It is hung to drain in line with the others.
After 24 hours, the cheese is placed to dry on the cheese stand (comarnic).
Then, they get things ready to prepare the goodies. They light a cooking fire in the hut. This way, the cheese from the comarnic gets a natural color and a smell of smoked cheese.
The fumes escape through the spaces between the logs.
Jântiță – A Traditional Creamy Whey Cheese
The whey is drained into a large cauldron.
The cauldron is hung over the fire, on an adjustable stand. Nicanor is stirring the whey with a long tailed stick.
The boiling water evaporates, leaving creamy crumbs behind. That is jântiță, the favorite dessert of the boys.
We ate it with sugar. It has the same flavor as the Croatian cheese pancakes, covered in a sour cream, egg and sugar sauce and baked in the oven.
Balmoș – Cheese Delights made in Bucovina
Balmoșul, a local specialty, is a mixture of polenta and jântiță. The creamy cheese is set again over the fire. To avoid lumps, they slowly add portions of the cornmeal, while stirring. They ladle the mixture continuously, until the butter separates from the cheese, toward the surface. This is it. You can add sour cream, cheese, or a tomato, onion and cucumber salad.
The Romanian Urda is the Italian Ricotta Cheese
The whey cheese (urda) is a light, low-fat sweet cheese and a good dietary choice. Urda is the Romanian shepherd’s version of the Italian ricotta. Nicanor is heating the whey. To prevent it from sticking to the bottom, one of his sons will be stirring constantly, until cheese lumps will be floating on the whey. Nicanor starts gathering them with a strainer, put them in a draining cloth and hang it.
Read also How is Smoked Meat Made in Romania
The fresh air and cheese delights increased my appetite. It was the first time I ever tried these traditional cheese recipes at a sheepfold.