5 Most Popular Lithuanian Cheeses
Lithuania is famous for its beautiful green landscapes, flatlands, lakes, amber, and dunes. With agriculture being a big part of the Lithuanian economy, a number of natural products are made there.
The milk industry is quite large, with a few big dairy food companies, as well as many local small farmers. Each of them produces many types of cheese. In fact, small farmers offer a wide variety of handmade cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses, inspired by the best cheesemakers.
Lithuanians are proud of their cheese, and in this list, you will find the 5 of the best Lithuanian cheeses that you can buy in the supermarkets.
1. Kietasis Sūris Džiugas (Dziugas Hard Cheese)
Lithuania is not as famous a cheese producer as France or Italy, but they have at least one cheese to be proud of: Džiugas. This is a Lithuanian parmesan-style cheese that has achieved Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.
Depending on the ripeness, the color varies from yellow to creamy. In the supermarkets you can find four levels of ripeness: mild (12 months), piquant (18 months), delicate (24 months) and gourmet (36 months).
The Džiugas Cheese House offers even older cheeses. The speciality store offers different snacks and cakes, as well as chocolates, containing this cheese. Džiugas is used for various dishes or can be served on its own.
Džiugas is an excellent gift to take home with you.
2. Varškės Sūris (Soft Curd Cheese)
One of the most common dairy products in Lithuania is curd cheese. It is used in many Lithuanian desserts and breakfast dishes. The most typical Lithuanian cheese is this soft curd cheese, which often appears on breakfast menus.
Typically, it is eaten with rye bread and honey, a combination that is a Lithuanian classic. The cheese is usually made by pressing the curd cheese, which is soft, smooth yet firm to hold. You can find it in any supermarket, and many farmers’ markets offer handmade version.
3. Varškės Sūris su Priedais (Curd Cheese with Flavorings)
There are many varieties of curd cheese. First, it can be made by boiling sweet milk, which makes it more firm and solid.
But most interestingly, curd cheese can be covered with spices and it can be smoked, baked or dried. The cheese itself might contain many flavorings. The sweet ones are dried cranberries, dried fruits, poppy seeds, raisins, and jelly. Savory ones can contain caraway, garlic, chili, herbs, pumpkin, sunflower or cannabis seeds and many more. Lithuanians are very creative with the combination of flavors in cheese.
These types of curd cheese can be found in supermarkets, but a wider variety is available from fairs or online. Make sure to try at least one of them!
4. Memel Sūris (Memel Cheese)
Memel is a type of hard cheese. Memel refers to the Nemunas river, although it can also be called Klaipėda, the Lithuanian port city. This hard cheese is matured on traditional Scandinavian spruce boards using a special technology.
The cheese maturation period varies from 2 to 18 months. Memel Prussia is matured for 3 months and has a mild aroma and creamy taste with a fantastic nutty aftertaste. Memel Reserve is matured for 12 months, when it develops a special fruity aftertaste and a crumbly, brittle structure. Grand Reserve is matured for 18 months and is characterized by a very impressive combination of hazelnuts, dried apricots and sour cream.
Cheeses that are matured for 2 months contain piquant flavorings, such as sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and jalapeno peppers.
Lastly, the most popular soft blue cheese in Lithuania is Memel Blue. It is a great snack that combines well with various fruits, such as pears, melon, and figs, and also with jams. Cheese is ideal for accompanying sweeter wines such as Porto or sweet Eiswein, made from Riesling grapes. It is often used as an ingredient in gourmet dishes or condiments.
5. Obuolių Sūris (Apple Cheese)
The last on this list is the sweet, matured apple cheese, which contains no dairy products. Lithuanians love eating this cheese in the autumn, when the apples are ripe, and they even prepare it at home. It is made by boiling diced apples with a little sugar. It can contain different flavorings, such as nuts, dried fruits, cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, cloves, or muscat, as well as citrus peel.
The cheese is very sweet, chewy and has a unique taste. It is perfect to snack on with your tea or coffee, especially on cloudy autumn days, and is perfect to bring home as an edible souvenir.
These are the most known Lithuanian cheeses of Lithuanian origin that are typically eaten there. There are many more, of course, including the most popular world cheeses, such as mozzarella, brie, cream cheese etc. In the end, there is never enough cheese, right?