The Finest Cheeses in Croatia
The Finest Cheeses in Croatia
The well-known soft and mild, strong and aromatic Croatian cheeses are a must-have on any special occasion, as well as in regular daily meals.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner, a snack accompanied by fine wine, or a short break with a tasty bite – these are all cases where cheese is the food of choice. You can find true delicacies produced by both small and large local cheesemakers, whether you are looking for appetizers, a final course in a formal dinner, or a little bite to satisfy your needs for distinct aromas. Croatia traditionally produces cheeses that very often win international awards and recognitions. Delicious specimens that are always a welcome sight on Croatian tables range from the mild škripavac to the impressive Pag cheese. Have you tried any of these five Croatian cheesemaking classics?
Pag cheese is an award-winning and highly regarded Croatian cheese, which is mainly the result of its unique flavour. This type of cheese is made from sheep’s milk which is naturally salty because sheep on the island of Pag graze on pastures that are often full of salt carried on by the bora wind from the sea. Normally, this cheese that bears the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) should be aged for a year, but it is just as delightful after only a few months of ageing.
Going to the market to buy cottage cheese and cream is a well-liked ritual in Croatia, as is the delicate taste of the creamy white soft cheese. Farms produce cottage cheese mostly through the process of spontaneous souring of unpasteurised cow’s milk. This is why the cheese has a relatively short shelf life and mild acidity. This type of cheese is part of a traditional breakfast in Zagreb and its surrounding areas, and the region of Hrvatsko Zagorje.
Prgica cheese has a distinct conical shape and spicy flavour, and is an essential part of any well-prepared table in inland Croatia. This interesting cheese is a traditional speciality of the Bilogora-Podravina and Međimurje regions, and is also known as prga, trdek, međimurski turoš or sirel. It is still produced from fresh cow’s milk that is left to ferment for a few days. The resulting cheese is then strained through a thick cloth to remove the whey, after which salt and ground sweet or spicy red paprika are added. After the ingredients are mixed, the strained cheese is shaped into cones and left to dry.
The soft cheese škripavac is a traditional, full-fat cheese made in the region of Lika, in villages at the foot of Velebit and Velika Kapela mountains, and in the Gorski kotar and Kordun regions. It has been included in the List of Protected Cultural Goods of the Republic of Croatia. It is usually made from cow’s milk, but it may be substituted by sheep’s milk in order to get a more intense flavour. Škripavac is the freshest cheese available because it is made from raw, fresh milk strained through a cloth and slightly heated, just enough to dissolve the rennet that coagulates it. In addition to a delicate aroma, a young škripavac has a distinct rubbery texture that squeaks when chewed, which is how it got its name (in Croatian “škripati” means “to squeak”).
Sir iz mišine
Sir iz mišine is an aromatic cheese made from sheep’s milk. It is a traditional cheese prepared in the mountainous areas of the regions of Zadar, Šibenik, Split and Dubrovnik. It is specific in that it ages in lambskin sacks ( mišina) that give it its distinct strong flavour. It is transported to marketplaces in the same sacks it is made in, and because of the unique ageing method, it comes in irregular lumps, rather than a specific shape.