Although Poland is not among the European leaders in exporting cheese, cheese is very popular in Poland and grocery stores sell many types of cheeses in variety of flavours. There are as many as 60 varieties listed on The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Poland website on the List of Regional and Traditional Products made in Poland. The most famous – oscypek - has been recognized by the European Union and is a protected trade name under the European Union’s Protected Designation.
Eating cheese is seen as absolutely essential in a healthy diet. In Poland, most popular are artisan cheeses made from organic ingredients in small quantities on family farms. Polish cheeses together with breads are considered to be very unique and of high quality. Cheese is also a crucial ingredient of many traditional dishes, for example the filling of pierogi ruskie - stuffed dumplings, contains white cheese called twaróg, potatoes and onion.
Because Poles love “slow” and organic foods, there are many varieties of Polish artisan cheeses. They may be soft or hard, made from cow, sheep or goat milk, but the flavor is always rich and exquisite. Food festivals and workshops are often held in various regions of Poland where attendees learn the secrets of artisan cheese making. Every June, a very popular cheese festival,“Czas Dobrego Sera” (“Time for Good Cheese”) is held in Lidzbark Warminski, in Warmia-Mazuria region of Poland.
Here are our choices of small artisan cheese producers from around Poland, whose products are really worth tasting!
When heading to Greater Poland region, one should try Kreuzer cheese, made by awarded producer – Ekosery. Kreuzer cheese is made from fresh milk, rennet, spring water and rock salt. In Dutch forms the cheese ripens for at least one month. It is served plain or with basil, oregano or caraway seeds.
In Warmian- Masurian region, sheep’s milk cheese can be sampled in Sorkwity. If you like famous French Roquefort, you’ll probably love hand-made blue sheep’s milk cheese which you can taste in Ranczo Frontiera
For those who like cheeses with herbs and garlic, Sery Gradzkie (Greater Poland region) offer garlic cheese made from cow and sheep milk or other rennet.
If you’re in Bieszczady Mountains (Subcarpathian Voivodeship), try exquisite sheep’s milk or goat’s milk cheeses, which are considered to be the healthiest. Visit Family Organic Farm “FIGA”, where all products are hand-made. You may try bryndza (traditional goat cheese) quark or Vallachai goat smoked cheese. To find out more about artisan cheeses from “FIGA” Farm visit their English website http://www.serykozie.pl/rge_eng/index.htm
Poland is also famous for its white cheese called twaróg. Twaróg or twarożek is made of soured milk. It is usually served with chives, garlic or radishes. What’s more, twaróg cheese features as a basic ingredient of various foods: appetizers, cheesecakes, sweet crepes, dumplings or pasta. There‘s a whole range of twaróg cheese sold in grocery stores throughout Poland.
Of course the best known Polish cheese is oscypek made in the southern, mountainous region of Poland. Oscypek is smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk. The recipe is strictly protected and even the shape can’t be changed. Oscypek is produced exclusively in the Tatra Mountains region of Poland, and is considered to be Polish delicacy. Similar to oscypek is gołka cheese however, it’s made of cow’s milk and has a different spindle shape.
Traditional yellow cheeses, for example, tylżycki are also very popular in Poland. Commonly sold sliced, yellow cheeses are used on sandwiches or kanapki.
Cheese is the basic ingredient of one of the most favourite Polish cakes – traditional cheesecake or sernik. There are many variations and recipes of this dessert but Poles prefer traditional cheesecake with thin crust and fresh cheese topping. It may be flavoured with raisins or covered with chocolate.
If you want to bake traditional, Polish cheesecake, try this easy recipe:
4.5oz or 125 gram of margarine
3.5oz or 100 gram of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
10.5oz or 300 gram of baking flour
2.2lb or 1 kg of white cheese
2 glasses of sugar
Lemon juice (from one lemon)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a bowl knead all the dough ingredients until smooth. Roll the dough. Grease a spring form pan and press ¾ of the dough into the bottom .
Mix well cheese filling ingredients and cover the dough. On top of cheese filling add the remaining ¼ of the dough. Bake in preheated over for 60 to 70 minutes. You can use sugar or chocolate glaze for topping.
Many of Poland Culinary Vacations trips include visits with artisan cheese makers and hands-on cheese making in various regions of Poland. Learn more and view pictures from past trips on our website: www.PolandCulinaryVacations.com