The amazing green cheese from Cherni Vit village, Bulgaria

Тази статия може да я прочетете и на: bgБългарски

Where to taste and buy the traditional Bulgarian green cheese from Cherni Vit 

“The man who makes the cheese lives nearby, the second house to the left, after the bridge”. This we were told by a helpful woman from Cherni Vit village, Bulgaria, while trying to find where to taste and buy the green cheese we had heard of before. But instead of visiting a restaurant or a fancy tasting room, we were directed to the home of Tsvetan Dimitrov, a biologist and former mayor of Cherni Vit who is now dedicating all of his time and effort to revive the tradition of making green cheese at Cherni Vit.

Green cheese from Bulgaria

Green cheese from Bulgaria

But how it all started?

We were on one of those weekend trips without a specific destination, just exploring the beauties of Bulgaria. We had decided to explore the area around Teteven in the Balkan mountains. While researching the route, I read something about some green cheese that was traditionally produced in the village of Cherni Vit. As dedicated culinary tourist, we could not miss this and we headed to the small village, chasing the famous cheese.

Getting lost in Cherni Vit

From what we had read online we thought that the green cheese is some really famous local delicacy, produced in almost every house. So we expected signs saying “Green cheese” on every door, and also in every local shop. However, we found nothing such and decided to go to the local hotel, hoping that at least they know something. However, we got lost and never find the hotel. Instead, speaking to a nice local woman proved completely helpful and soon we found ourselves at the door of a nice private house, not showing in any way that cheese was produced there.

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Заеленото сирене 42.877796, 24.192914

We felt totally unconvenient there – 2 adults and a baby on Sunday at noon, knocking on someone’s door, asking for some strange cheese. However, we were on the right place and the smiling Tsvetan welcomed us in his yard. He served two types of cheese and started to tell the story of the delicacy.

Once shepherds in the mountains kept their white brined sheep cheese in wooden containers. But with the time passing, the brine drained and the cheese was left dry. Later, touching the wet and cool air, the cheese started to cover with green mold. People thought that when it comes to this, the cheese is spoiled. So in the late 70s the production almost died because plastic boxes became available for storage of the cheese. Thus, forming the mold was prevented and the moulded cheese was left back in history.

Green cheese from Bulgaria

Green cheese from Bulgaria

Who makes the cheese and why?

The green cheese was rediscovered by Italian specialists from the Slow Association in 2007. Then started the efforts of reviving the technology of its production. It appeared that the wooden boxes are not the only necessary condition to make the famous cheese. It is very dependent of the quality of the milk. In Teteven area is mainly breeded the Teteven sheep which has now a population of just under 10 000. So the milk is somehow different than sheep milk produced in other areas of Bulgaria. Another important thing for the production of green cheese is the humid and soft climate in the area. And not least, for the good cheese contribute the big amplitudes between day and night temperatures.

Tsvetan Dimitrov spent a few years trying to find the right technology and conditions to produce the original green cheese. He is now making it at his home in Cherni Vit. For now, this is the only place where you can find the green cheese from Cherni Vit. Another option is to write him an email and ask him to send you a portion by post. We do exactly this from time to time – write him and he sends us some cheese.

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