Sirene is a white brine Bulgarian cheese, a basic dairy food. It is made of cow's, sheep or goat's milk. Having a light taste and slightly grainy texture, Sirene is used as an appetizer or as an ingredient for vegetarian dishes, in salads or in cooking, separately as a table cheese or in combination with other products.
Kashkaval is a specific type of Bulgarian hard yellow cheese. It is made of sheep or cow milk. Kashkaval has a specific tangy taste, much distinctive from the other European yellow cheeses. Solid and pliable, without holes, Kashkaval is everywhere in the menu, from appetizer to topping.
Sirene and Kashkaval are matchless in taste, lighter and purer than any other cheeses, because the salt, added to preserve it in the warm climate prevents the development of moulds. Their delicate and fresh taste makes them go equally well with a bottle of fine wine or with your morning breakfast.
In times long ago, 5000 years from now, the tribes of the Thracians lived in the lands south of the Great Danube river, where now is Bulgaria. The Thracians were experienced in breeding cattle. They took a pride in their highbred light-footed stallions, but they were famous afar also for the Sirene and Kashkaval they made of the milk of the cows, sheep and goats.
For the ancients cheese was an everyday food and cheese making was an art. Their herds pastured in the rich and fruitful plains and gave the best creamy milk. It was curdled while still warm and aged for 45 days.
The tradition of cheese making was preserved through the millennia and the ancient skill lives on in Bulgaria.
The ancient tribes found out the way to make Sirene by accident. They used to store milk in the skin of animals and they noticed that it got turned in calf's stomach. That's how people discovered the enzymes that curdle milk.
Nowadays, for the production of Sirene the milk is pasteurized and cooled and then leavened by rennet. When it curdles it is strained and salted. The salt is necessary, because it prevents the development of microbes that may spoil the cheese. Sirene must age for about 45 days at temperature about 12°C. After it's ready, it is stored and packed in brine.
The method for the production of Kashkaval was discovered by the ancients who wanted to preserve the cheese longer and has been perfected for many centuries. The technology consists of curdling, withering in hot ~75°C water or brine and salting. The heat treatment has a conservative effect, preserving the useful lactic microorganisms at the same time. In order to obtain its specific taste and scent Kashkaval must be well matured.
Kashkaval is not unlike the other European yellow cheeses, that are made with ferment. Due to the differences in their production technologies the holes that indicate the high quality of other cheeses must not be present in good Kashkaval.
The modern technology of making of Sirene and Kashkaval is focused on food safety and quality. The production starts with quality control of the incoming ingredients and ends with evaluation of the ready product. The milk is collected from selected and controlled farms, located preferably in the mountain regions. The excellent raw material, the automatic production lines, the well-trained and specialized personnel and the strict inspections applied at every production stage, ensure the admirable quality of contemporary Bulgarian cheeses.
Bulgarian National Association of Milk Processors is a voluntary non-profit, not political organization which unites more than 120 small, medium and large private companies of the national dairy sector.
Their production is exported in many countries in the EU and all around the world and is widely known as delicious and preferred food that enriches and lends variety to the table.
Sirene and Kashkaval are most delicious if you take them out of the refrigerator one hour before serving and allow them to come to room temperature to fully enjoy their rich flavour and creamy texture.
CAMPAIGN FINANCED WITH AID FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA