Balkan cheese is similar in many ways to its Greek version, feta, but there are still some fundamental differences. What kind? You can read about that in this article!
At the same time, you will learn how to best enjoy it, and you can also learn two perfect recipes with this delicious cheese!
What is Balkan cheese?
This cheese is often confused with feta, which many people associate with Greece, and rightly so, as feta has been made here for thousands of years.
However, many Balkan countries and many others (such as France, Israel and the United States) also produce feta, although they are not allowed to use the term feta itself under the EU protected label regulation.
So it is a white salt cheese from Bulgaria. It is sometimes called Bulgarian feta cheese, but it does not contain the right ingredients.
What is the difference between Balkan cheese and Greek feta?
The main difference between Balkan and Greek cheese is the type of milk used in its production.
While Balkan milk is made from various mixtures of sheep’s, goat’s and cow’s milk, Greek milk must contain only milk from goats and cows.
Cheese from the Balkans is softer, creamier and earthier than Greek feta, which is sharper, firmer and more crumbly.
If you want to know more about real Greek feta, read this article , which covers it in detail!
How is Balkan cheese made?
Cheese is made by adding cultures of bacteria to milk and then cooking it. Enzymes are then added to aid clotting.
When the milk solidifies, it is broken and placed in molds, where the resulting cheese mass is allowed to drip and solidify. The resulting block of cheese is cut into pieces, salted and allowed to harden at room temperature.
After an initial one-day curing at room temperature, the cheese is stored in a cold place for another 5-7 days.
Nutritional values of Balkan cheese (per 100 g)
|Calorie||Carbohydrates||Sugars||Fats||Saturated fatty acids||Proteins||Fiber||Salt|
|260 calories||1 g||0 g||22 g||16 g||16 g||0 g||1.4 mg|
What to prepare from Balkan cheese?
|This cheese is mostly used crumbled in Šopska salad with tomatoes and cucumbers (be inspired by our Balkan salad recipes )|
|Wrap it in dough, bake it in the oven or fill red peppers with it, which you then fry|
|You can also serve it separately sprinkled with paprika, drizzled with olive oil and drink rose wine with it|
|Enjoy it for breakfast with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, salami and boiled eggs|
|Bulgaria’s traditional katak dip is made with roasted red peppers, yogurt and lots of garlic to dip the cheese into|
|Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs, chilli or cracked pepper and serve as a starter with fresh bread|
|Mix it with hot pasta like this Spaghetti with Spinach|
|Add it to an omelet or scrambled eggs|
|Serve it with watermelon or as part of a fruit plate|
Recipe for pickled Balkan cheese
- 200 g of Balkan cheese
- 1 teaspoon of oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 clove of garlic, sliced
- 2 pieces of lemon peel
- 150 ml of extra virgin olive oil, approx.
- Put the cheese and all the dry ingredients in a jar
- Drizzle with olive oil so that all the ingredients are submerged
- Close the jar and let it marinate overnight
- It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks
Recipe for baked pasta with Balkan cheese
- 500 g of cherry tomatoes
- 4 cloves of garlic (halved lengthwise)
- 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of salt
- 200 g of Balkan cheese
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 350 g of pasta
- Fresh basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 200°C
- Mix the tomatoes, garlic and 40 ml of olive oil in a roasting pan
- Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat
- Place the cheese in the center between the tomatoes and garlic, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle the whole dish with chili flakes and a little black pepper
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until the garlic and tomatoes are soft
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta al dente (read our article on how to properly cook pasta )
- Then drain, but reserve 1 cup of the pasta water
- Mash the cheese and tomato mixture with a fork and mix until combined
- Add the pasta and toss again, adding pasta water as needed
- Serve the pasta in bowls and garnish with plenty of basil
What to replace Balkan cheese with?
Greek feta – traditionally made from sheep’s milk, although sometimes a little goat’s milk is mixed in. It has a salty and sour taste, with lemon undertones. The texture is usually rich and creamy, although versions with more goat milk tend to be crumblier.
French feta – most often made from sheep’s milk and is typically soft, creamy, drier and more sour.
Israeli feta – has a full, not too salty taste and is made from sheep’s milk.
American feta – can be made from sheep’s, goat’s or even cow’s milk. Usually, the sour taste predominates and the texture is less creamy and more crumbly.
How long does Balkan cheese last?
It’s a great cheese that you can always keep in the fridge because it rarely goes bad.
Store it in brine in a covered airtight container and it will stay fresh for weeks or even months.