When we say "cheese" in Macedonia, we think of white cheese, while you probably think of yellow cheese, the one you put on pizza maybe and other types of yellow cheeses. With this article, I hope I'll give some explanation on what I mean when I use white cheese as an ingredient in my recipes.

Macedonia abounds with ecologically clean pastures, and it is precisely the specific flora of the pastures that gives a special taste and aroma to the white and yellow cheeses that are produced in this territory.

For centuries, cheese has been an important part of the traditional diet in Macedonia. It is white, similar to feta cheese, and can be made from sheep's, goat's or cow's milk, and is often made from mixed sheep's and cow's milk. As for the cheese, the most famous is the one produced in Galicnik and Lazaropole.

White cheese is also known as white brine cheese. This type of brined cheese is made in the Balkans and is especially popular in Macedonia and neighbour countries. It is made of the milk of goats, sheep, or cows, or a mixture of these. It is slightly crumbly, with at least 46–48% of dry matter containing 44–48% of fat. It is commonly produced in blocks, and has a slightly grainy texture. It is used as a table cheese, in salads, and in baking.

White cheese on shopska salad

Due to its uniqueness, cheeses are produced from three regions - Mariovo, Berovo and Galicnik. These cheeses represent a rarity and a national landmark of Macedonia. Their quality is due to the natural and healthy environment in which they are produced.

Mariovo "bieno" cheese, Maleshevo milk specialties and Galician sheep's cheese are an inevitable part of the Macedonian table and haven't left anyone indifferent. They are distinguished by a specific and excellent taste, and a special aroma. Cheeses can only be made by qualified masters, who keep the age-old recipes for the still unsurpassed traditional way of preparation.

White cheese and ajvar are the perfect combo

When you taste the cheeses - you will feel the taste of the mountain and the eternal greenery, but also of the tradition, the deepness and the secret passed down from generation to generation by the experienced masters.

Whipped (beaten) cheese - Bieno sirenje 

Beaten cheese or whipped cheese — an autochthonous Macedonian type of cheese that originates from the area of ​​Mariovo and was made from sheep's milk. Whipped cheese used to be made exclusively from sheep's milk, but today it is made from a mixture of sheep's and cow's milk, as well as from cow's milk only.

A piece of bieno sirenje

Whipped cheese from cow's milk compared to sheep's milk has a lower nutritional value, while in terms of organoleptic characteristics it does not deviate much. The habits of the population acquired in the past to consume whipped cheese, as well as the high selling price, require a day-by-day increase in production. Whipped cheese is a very interesting product because the production technology and consistency are close to the technology of hard cheeses, while according to the method of ripening and storage, it is included in the type of sour-salty brine cheeses, i.e. cheeses that ripen in salt.

The production of whipped cheese used to be conditioned by the diet of the population, so during production, the milk fat was separated and consumed as cream, while the skimmed milk was processed into cheese that was stored in a concentrated salt solution. This product was very important for the diet of the poor population, because it was consumed in smaller quantities, and as a result it was excessively salty (5-7% salt in the cheese dough). This way of making whipped cheese was also domesticated in the plains where large cattle - cows are mostly raised, so this type of cheese started to be made from cow's milk.

Bieno sirenje in Zovic, Mariovo