Poland’s very own, beautiful and one of a kind cheese! Posted by Kasia on Dec 29, 2021 in Food, Places to visit, Traditions
Have you heard the word OSCYPEK before??? If you have, then you probably tried it as well. One of a kind, absolutely beautifully looking Polish smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk hailing from the highland Tatra Podhale region of Poland.
And when I say beautiful, I mean it! I bet you have never seen cheese that could look so attractive…
Oscypek is an absolute must taste when you visit Polish mountains. It is a smoked cheese made out of salted sheep milk, produced in a very traditional way. Polish highlanders make it entirely by hand using only wooden tools. Oscypek production is a very long process. In the Spring shepherds take their sheep to pasture in the mountain meadows. The cheese is made from May to September only and may be purchased until the end of October.
Per European Union regulations, this golden-hued, spindle-shaped cheese has very specific criteria. It must weigh between 600g and 800g (approximately 1.3 – 1.8lb) and measure between 17 and 23cm (about 6 – 9″). It also needs to be made from at least 60% sheep’s milk (mleko owcze), and can only be produced between late April to early October when the sheep feed on fresh mountain grass (świerza górska trawa). Before that time, any milk they have is needed for the lambs. Any cheese that doesn’t fit the criteria must be sold as serki góralskie (Highland cheeses).
The name oscypek comes from the word “scypać”, which means ‘to split’ in the local dialect. This is related to the moulds which are split into two parts. Others say “scypać” refers to pinching or kneading – another important part of the cheese-making process to make it more elastic and pliable.
You can compare the texture to mozzarella cheese, but the taste is much sharper, brinier and smokier, due to its high sheep’s milk content (as well as the process of first scalding then smoking the cheese).
Oscypki (plural for Oscypek) come in three sizes: small (which are oval), medium (shaped like a barrel), and big (shaped like a spindle, and the only size protected by the EU). You can probably find some other shapes, like heart.
There is even an Oscypek Festival organized in summer in Zakopane! It gives a chance to meet with highlander culture, tradition and folklore. Different shepherds present their products and show the stages of making oscypek.
I personally love the cheese! Let us know if you tried and what did you think about it?
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