Circassian Cheese

Circassians -- also referred to as the Cherkess -- are the people of northwestern Caucasus. Today they are found chiefly in the Russian republics of Adyga and Karachay-Cherkessia, and in larger groups in Jordan, Syria, and Turkey.

Circassian cheese is a cultural staple for Circassians. It is a very mild type of basket cheese that does not melt when baked or fried, and can be crumbled similarly to feta cheese. This cheese can be eaten by itself or in a sandwich. It is used as a stuffing in several Circassian recipes, including Walibakh (stuffed flat bread) and Haliva (similar to fatayir, samosas or empenadas).


Cheese Components:

  • 2 gallons whole milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp citric acid
  • 1 tbsp. salt, or to taste

* Pour milk into an 8-to-10 quart stainless steel pot. Bring milk to a boil on medium-high heat.

* As soon as milk starts to boil, reduce heat to low.

* Stir citric acid into water until dissolved. Pour the citric acid and water mixture around inside the edges of the pot, causing the milk to separate.

* With a sieve, scoop milk solids out and into a strainer lined with a cheesecloth. Sprinkle cheese with salt throughout this process.

* Cover with cheesecloth and press down with a weighted plate. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

* Remove cheese from mold and garnish with black caraway and sesame seeds, if desired.

- For a sweeter cheese, use less salt.
- Citric acid and water mixture can be substituted with one cup lemon juice or one cup white vinegar.






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