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19 Jun

The Green Cheese from the Bulgarian village of Cherni Vit

The village of Cherni Vit is located in the Teteven part of the Balkan mountains, where the mild climate, the humidity along the Cherni Vit river valley, as well as the great differences between the temperature during the day and the night, help create the unique Bulgarian Green cheese.

The Green Cheese is soft with a dense and spicy flavour and has a specific scent. It is covered with a noble, green, mouldy crust, naturally developed. In the renowned and established cheese producing countries – Switzerland, Italy and France – most of the cheeses are artificially infected with fungus. However, in the Green Cheese from the village of Cherni Vit, the noble mould is self-infested in the wooden containers where it is stored.

Cherni Vit is a village with a population of ca. 800 people. The former Mayor, Mr. Tsvetan Dimitrov, is a biologist in education and has embraced the uneasy task of reviving the production of this interesting and specific cheese and showing it to the world.

It is not known exactly when the Green Cheese came in, but the story is roughly as follows:

At one time the shepherds in the Balkan kept their white brindled sheep cheese in wooden pots. Gradually, however, the brine drained and the lumps of cheese remained dry. After opening the pots, so far with the humid and cool air, the cheese began to cover with a greenish mould. For a long time, people considered this cheese to be spoiled, and only a few dared to try it.

The green cheese began to disappear at the end of the 1970’s when people replaced the wooden buckets with plastic ones and the birth of this particular mould became impossible.

For the production of the Green Cheese, it is not only necessary to have wooden pots and a suitable climate, but the quality of the milk is also important. The area is known mainly through the growing of Teteven Sheep, the number of which has gradually decreased to under 10 000 animals. Thus, the milk from which the Green Cheese is produced is different from that obtained in other regions of this country.

Tsvetan is excited about the history and authenticity of the Green Cheese and decides to revive its production. In 2007 representatives of the international organisation SLOW FOOD, in search of unique products, tried it at a tasting of domestic products from the Teteven Balkan, organised by its reviver. Trying it, they are stunned by its unique taste qualities.

Tsvetan then decided to present the Green Cheese at the World Cheese Exhibition in the city of Bra in Italy, where it was also highly appreciated.

Undoubtedly, the Green Cheese of Cherni Vit is a native culinary treasure that we can enjoy with a nice, light red wine.