World Cheese Encyclopaedia - Each Sunday learn all about a new cheese.
This week Trnič from Slovenia.
Region: Kamnik-Savinja Alps, Velika Planina
Made from: Cow’s milk
Taste: Salty, sharp, fresh
Aging: 2 to 3 weeks
Trnič cheese is made in Velika, Mala, and Gojška Planina in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps in Slovenia.
It has a unique pear or breast shape and is made from curd cheese, cream skimmed from the surface of sour milk, and salt. It has a taste and texture a little like parmesan cheese.
The mixture is formed into lumps which are dried naturally, shaped, and imprinted with various patterns (i.e. pictographs) using little wooden sticks. The Alpine dairy farmers used to carve and emboss these sticks with their own patterns while grazing their animals. The cheese is then left to dry and smoked above the fireside for two to three weeks. It is traditionally made in pairs, with each pair of cheeses having the same pattern.
Cheese making has a long tradition in Slovenia. It started first on the Alpine dairy-farms and later also in the valleys. Dairy-farming families took up cheese making for purely practical reasons, so they would have enough food in the winter months.
‘Trnič’ is regarded as an integral part of the cultural heritage of alpine dairy farming and alpine culture in Slovenia. The production and pictographs of the cheese are entered in the Register of preserved cultural heritage.
The herders would make Trnič while up in the alps taking care of their herds. In autumn, on returning home from the alps, the farmers would present a pair of cheeses to their girlfriends as a symbol of their love and as a proposal of marriage. Each pair of cheeses would have the same pattern embellished on it. If she gave him back one cheese it was considered confirmation that she loved him and accepted to be courted by him. If she kept both cheeses, it meant the romance was over.
How to Enjoy It
Fresh Trnič can be grated like parmesan onto pasta, risotto, soups or salads. It can be added to meat dishes or eaten on its own as a starter or dessert. Eat it in thin slices with honey or pepper, or drizzle it with a little olive oil. Being similar to parmesan in flavour, Trnič pairs well with nice dry local reds.
Sources: Slovenia.si,r tvslo.si, visitkamnik.com, rove.me/to/slovenia