The only green mold cheese in the Balkans is made in the Bulgarian village of Cherni Vit. It is one of the three kinds of cheese in Europe that develop mold naturally. Although this type of cheese is not very well known and is not available in stores, experts and gourmets of the Old Continent are well aware of its creamy texture, moist earthy aroma, and slightly spicy taste.
The only green mold cheese in the Balkans is made in the Bulgarian village of Cherni Vit
Years ago huge flocks of sheep used to be raised in the Teteven part of The Stara Planina mountain, also called Balkan Mountains. The locals produced and then stored the cheese in wooden barrels until each piece was completely dry. During the summer season, the cheese was stored in the rural cellars, and the obligatory conditions for this were a temperature of 10-12 degrees and enough moisture. After opening the wooden barrels in the spring, thanks to interacting with the cool air and moisture, the cheese has covered with mold. People thought that this was how the cheese spoiled, and in the 1970s they massively replaced wooden barrels with plastic cans. Gradually, the spread of green cheese stopped and the mold began to disappear.
Searching from person to person and door to door, Dimitrov`s finally found a small lump of green cheese
But the Bulgarian Tsvetan Dimitrov, former mayor of the village of Cherni Vit, remembers very well how his grandparents made such cheese. Together with his wife Tsonka, he began an intensive search for the cheese. However, finding it turned out to be a difficult task, as the people in the Teteven Balkans mostly use plastic cans for their cheeses. When Dimitrov’s family asked what the secret of the recipe is, the elderly locals say that there is no secret, and the cheese simply changes color by itself. Searching from person to person and door to door, the mayor’s family finally found a small lump of green cheese in the home of Kolyo and Nenka – locals who had lived high in the mountains for years. The amount of that cheese was so small that it could fit in an empty matchbox. Thanks to the storage in wooden boxes, the family managed to keep the production technology.
Thus, the Bulgarian green cheese from the village of Cherni Vit goes to the World Cheese Exhibition, organized by the international movement Slow Food in the Italian town of Bra. It was presented last at the tastings because of its dense aroma. However, experts have been adamant – the product has no analog in the Balkans. Tsvetan Dimitrov is aware that the composition of milk obtained from local animals is very different from other regions.
The only way to taste green cheese is on-site in Cherni Vit
Teteven sheep are bred, but the animals are few (about 10,000) and the herds are often mixed with Karakachan sheep. Tsvetan Dimitrov does not aim to create mass production of green cheese. His idea is to create a livelihood in the village through the delicacy, which will attract tourists. A dozen locals have already been trained on how to make green cheese according to an original recipe. To this day, the only way to taste green cheese is on-site in Cherni Vit. The tasting of green cheese is the focus of our gastronomic tour “Green cheese, krockmach and apple halva”, which we organize in this part of Bulgaria.