Green mold cheese is the culinary treasure of Bulgaria’s Cherni Vit

Photo: greencheese.eu

The technology for making green mold cheese that exists in the village of Cherni Vit in Stara Planina has not been forgotten, say followers of the Slow Food international movement in Bulgaria. They hunt "gastronomic treasures" and turn them into small business opportunities for the community that produces them. This way Bulgarian cheese covered with green mold has gained recognition worldwide thanks to connoisseurs who tried it at culinary exhibitions. Bulgarian consumers are not acquainted with the green cheese from Cherni Vit and even if people have heard about its qualities, they do not know where to buy it.

In Cherni Vit locals say that producing the green cheese does not require much human intervention and the fungus occurs naturally on the mature cheese. The story of the dairy delicacy of Cherni Vit is very old and tells about the lifestyle of the local people from the times where flocks of thousands of sheep grazed across the mountain. During the summer people used to make cheese and store it in wooden casks. Gradually the brine drains and the cheese dries. In late summer shepherds stockpiled the cheese in their basements and blue-green mold appeared after the casks are open because of the wet and cool air. People in the past used to scrape the mold off the cheese, which is surprising today because we know that the mold is actually what turns the cheese into a delicacy.

Green cheese already has a reserved place on the map of European culinary treasures. Bulgaria is actually the country of origin of one of the three types of blue cheese on the continent that are naturally cultured. Mayor of Cherni Vit told us more about the plans to protect the cheese. He supports the views of the Slow Food Movement and believes that everyone is responsible for preserving delicious and unique local products.

"When I was a child I gladly consumed this green cheese. I remember the taste and I associate the smell from my childhood. After that the green cheese disappeared for a long time. Then I began asking about it. One day the Slow Food international organization called me with an offer to participate in an expedition that was to discover interesting dairy products produced locally. I found only one small lump of cheese in the village, but when I presented it to specialists, they were delighted. Curiously, the green cheese has never been offered on Bulgarian market. Just one citizen of Cherni Vit still produces it. Penicillium roqueforti is the mold that grows on this white cheese with low water content. The cheese is made only from sheep's and goat's milk unlike other types of blue cheese produced in Europe.”

English: Alexander Markov


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