9 Popular Macedonian Cheeses
One of the things tourists mostly associate Macedonia with is the mouth-watering food. This small Balkan country is astonishingly rich in delicious foods, including meat, vegan, and fish dishes, desserts, and cheese.
Cheese in Macedonia is highly valued and many variations are crafted. The two most common are traditional Macedonian cow’s and sheep’s cheese, though, of course, there is goat’s cheese, which, according to some, is of higher quality, although that’s a matter of taste.
Wherever you sit down to enjoy a meal in Macedonia, be it a local restaurant or when visiting a friend, you’ll probably be offered at least a few types of cheese.
Here are 9 of the most popular types of cheese in Macedonia.
1. Macedonian Cow’s Cheese
This is the most common and basic type of cheese in Macedonia. Most people eat it; most people enjoy it. It’s a typical white cheese with moderate salinity and caloric value. In structure, it’s semi-soft, a fresh white cheese. It’s very similar to the Greek Manouri cheese.
This cheese comes in softer and firmer varieties and the salt content depends on the manufacturer. However, it tastes fantastic and never disappoints. It is consumed in combination with bread pastries or as an addition to dishes, salads, and the like. If you come across farmers selling their cow’s cheese directly from their farm, be sure to buy some. You won’t regret it. Doctors even recommend this cheese as a food rich in nutrients good for your well-being.
And, if you get your hands on freshly baked bread and ajvar and pair them with this cheese, your taste buds will be forever grateful.
2. Macedonian Sheep’s Cheese
As the name implies, this cheese is made from sheep’s milk, but in terms of composition and nutrition, it is very similar to cow’s cheese. The only difference is that it has a slightly more bitter taste and a more intense aroma. It goes well with the famous Macedonian ajvar.
Urda is the Macedonian version of cottage cheese. It is the most often used cheese in pastry production, so you won’t miss it when trying different foods. It’s used in the famous Macedonian cheese burek.
But this type of cheese is also used in many other popular foods such as main dishes like pasta or roasted vegetables. It’s also part of many Macedonian salads and meat dishes, and even in some desserts.
High in protein but affordable in price, this cheese is adored by everyone.
Kajmak (or kaymak) is a cheese that is rightly considered one of the most valuable and nutritious dairy products. In everyday speech, kajmak means something most valuable and supreme. It’s produced from the milk crust, made when the boiled milk cools down.
According to Macedonian tradition, kajmak is first given to the youngest children to make them stronger, and what was left was eaten by the adults. The taste of kajmak is something that must be experienced. It goes great with a portion of kebab.
5. Shar: Mountain Cheese
The name states that it is produced only on one mountain in Macedonia, Shar-Mountain. It’s made from the milk of domestic animals fed on the vegetation of this mountain.
This cheese is a type of cow’s cheese, but it differs in that it has a higher density, hardness, and its own unique smell and taste that can’t be created artificially. The exciting thing about this cheese is that a specific type of parsley is added while it is produced. It goes incredibly well with another dish, the Shar-Mountain burger, a big beef patty with infused cheese. It tastes as good as it sounds.
6. Bieno (Beaten) Cheese
Another very popular cheese is mainly produced in the Galicnik region of Macedonia. It’s highly popular and is considered a rather elite cheese. It is harder and firmer than other cheeses and has characteristic holes inside. It also has the highest salinity of all cheeses. This cheese is a must as an accompaniment to wine or rakija.
Apart from white cheeses, Macedonia has a tradition of producing and using several types of yellow cheeses. The most famous yellow cheese is kashkaval.
Depending on the production technology and local traditions, there are many types of kashkaval: cow, sheep, goat, softer or harder, wet or dry. They are primarily used for sandwiches and burgers. Think cheddar cheese, but with a richer taste that doesn’t resemble anything artificial.
8. Zholto (Yellow) Cheese
Zholto in Macedonian means yellow. The cheese is slightly yellowish due to the production technology, which, unlike white cheese, is closer to kashkaval cheese. This cheese is a kind of cross between kashkaval and bieno cheese, which is why some people confuse them.
It’s just as hard and firm as bieno cheese and a shade saltier than other cheeses. If you find it difficult to decide between bieno and kashkaval, yellow cheese is always the right choice.
9. Goat’s Cheese
Goat’s cheese is much more expensive in the markets in Macedonia, the reason given that it is more elite and tasty. It’s true that, unlike other cheeses, it is more challenging and has a nice, strong consistency. But the real reason for the higher price is that there aren’t many goats in Macedonia.
This cheese also has a rich and juicy taste, especially when fried or grilled.
Macedonia has a wide variety of food specialties, and cheese is one of them. Be sure to check out the dozens of varieties, each one tastier than the next.
Related: Most Popular Macedonian Desserts