Mariovo “Tepano” (beaten) cheese
The beaten cheese is an autochthonous product from the region of Mariovo, which, in the past was solely made of sheep milk. It got its name after the specific and hard-working process of production, meaning the conditions for the diet of the poor people in Mariovo. With the “beating” the milk fat was separated from the milk, and it indeed was an expensive and wanted product. The rest of the fat-free milk was elaborated into cheese in very hard manner, which can be even nowadays seen in some places.
In a big, wooden barrel the rennet milk is placed and it is “beaten” with “stirring spoon”. For the cheese making process of the milk they used rennet in the past, i.e., an enzyme which one gets from the lamb’s stomach, and the “stirring spoon” is a fat wood which has a circle of branches on the lower end. Then, in the barrel there are two bigger hot stones and the “beating” continues. Due to the warmth of the stones and the “beating” on the surface, some curds of cheesed milk (cheese) start being created, which are collected in balls and are left on a cheesecloth to extract the “whey”. To the extracted “whey” we add fresh milk and rennet and the practice is repeated on 5-6 days. The formed curdsare poured with warm water soas to harden, thenthey are salted and exposed to sunlight to become ripe. The surface of the cheese gets this waxy yellow colour which is the reason why it is known as “yellow” cheese. Next, it is cut into pieces which are left for some more time on the sun and eventually they are put into wooden barrels with brine.
The sheep fat is produced in a similar way, meaning by mixing equal quantities of “whey”and milk, which are left to “ripe” for4-5 days. Then, they are poured in a deep wooden bowl called “butin” and they are “beaten” with a stirring spoon. In this way, the surface creates a foam substance which is collected in a barrel and poured with water.
In the past the beaten cheese was made only from sheep milk. With the expansion of the technology in these regions, the cheese started being made from cow, mixed (sheep and cow) and even from goat milk.
The traditionally made beaten cheese is solid, quite salty, with tiny holes, waxy yellow colour, strong scent and taste. As the time passed by, the traditional and hard-working way of production is replaced with a new, more sophisticated manner, which produces higher quality of cheese, with less salt in accordance with the consumers’ demand.