Bezde Tulum is a traditional cheese made from raw goat milk produced by the Sarıkeçili nomadic tribe in the Taurus mountains, in alpine pastures as high as 3,000 meters above see level.
It belongs to the family of Tulum cheese – i.e. the ancient tradition of aging cheese in a container – whether sheepskin, cloths, or potteries. This cheese is usually produced in late spring early summer season.
The milk is processed at body temperature right after milking by adding sheep or goat rennet. It takes about 45 minutes for the curd to coagulate. The curd is then strained in a muslin lined colander, and the remaining whey processed into lor (Turkish whey cheese).
The curd is left to drain overnight, and it is then crumbled by hand and salted. The cheese is again wrapped in special handmade cloths named bukme bezi – a special hand waved fabric – and pressed under a heavy stone to further dry out until it almost dry. The cheese is then crumbled again, to add herbs – usually cumin, poppy seed, and thyme. Producers then place from 1 to 5 kilograms of cured cheese into bukme bezi bags and then stored in caves on wooden shelves. In early October it is ready for the market.
Bezde Tulum has a mild animal and herbal smell, creamy colour, coarse, large grain and sharp taste. It is consumed all year around, usually for breakfast, as a snack with warm bread or as an appetizer.
Nomadic peoples are disappearing throughout Anatolia, and their food heritage is generally under threat. Nomadic life is becoming increasingly difficult. Their traditional route is increasingly privatizing and occupying by government for hunting or farming. This is why many abandon their traditional nomadic habits, or move from the mountain areas to the lower plateau, especially amongst the youth. Bezde Tulum’s becoming difficult to find because fewer women waving this type of cloth which is required for this type of cheese.