It's by visiting the Dealul Sasului sheepfold in the village of Dâmbovicioara that I learned the steps of cheese preparation, one of the culinary specialties of the traditional cuisine of Romania.
It starts at 4 in the morning by milking cows and around 6 o’clock the first round of milk arrives at the sheepfold (15 cans for about 350L of milk). This milk is evenly divided and placed in wooden buckets. In each bucket is added a coagulation measure, allowed to coagulate for about 45 minutess, then once the milk is coagulated, it’s beaten and left again for 10-15 minutes at rest. When the work is finished, it is passed through a cheesecloth and placed in a vat, where it is compressed, demolded and kneaded to extract the milk. To finish counterweights are laid on it for 5-6 hours.
The extracted whey is boiled in 200 liters boilers to obtain the cheese and the whey which is separated with the fermented whey or vinegar. The whey is put in special containers and is beaten at the centrifuge, while the cheese is surrounded by special leaves and left to dry for 1-2 days.
After 5-6 hours when it is compressed, the cheese obtained is put to dry in a cold room for 1-2 days. At the end of these days, the cheese is returned to the sheepfold, fermented in specific wooden boxes between 9 and 14 days, depending on the outside temperature. It is then removed, peeled and chopped, then 15 kg are placed in a bowl where some salt is added. To finish, the cheese is kneaded again and put in baskets, boxes or bags to be deliver to customers.
The cheese that was not sold is put in bags and in autumn it is given back to owners of the cows.
Article written for Est Evasion by Gabriela Mihai, ArtTour Romania