Belorechka Kozya Izvara
Белоречка Козя Извара
Kozya izvara a dairy product that is made in the area of Bela Rechka (in the Montana Province of northwestern Bulgaria) from goats’ milk. Goats are the prevailing livestock animals in the area, and this cheese is prepared in late summer, at the end of the lactation period, when the milk is thickest. Kozya izvara is prepared in a large, 10-liter jar. Initially, the milk ferments into yogurt, and fresh milk is added to the jar each day. Fermentation and additions continue until the jar is full, after about a week. Then, the fermented milk is put into a pot and boiled very slowly until the water evaporates and the mixture caramelizes slightly from the melting of the lactose. The izvara is strained overnight, and in the morning placed into small jars (usually 300-800 g) and sterilized for further storage. Kozya izvara can be stored for up to a year, until the next milking period.
This traditional product dates back to a time before refrigeration as a way to collect and preserve milk throughout the year for periods when it would not be available. It should not be confused with curd that is made in the process of cheesemaking that is popularly called izvara in Bulgaria. The use of this term for Kozya izvara possibly refers to the process of boiling down (from the word izvaryavane/изваряване) used in the creation of this product. Kozya izvara has historically been produced in Bela Rechka, but also in neighboring villages. It is mainly made for personal or family consumption, but since the early 2000s has also been promoted on a small scale particularly at the recently created Goat Milk Festival. However, depopulation and the abandonment of villages in the region threaten the traditional know-how connected with making typical foods like Kozya izvara, and if not passed on to future generations, this dairy product may be lost.