Draa Oases Goat’s Jben

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Goat’s Jben from the Draa Oases is a fresh goat’s cheese that is part of the gastronomic heritage of the Moroccan oases. Its production, preservation and consumption are tied to the ancestral practices of nomads in Morocco. Jben from the Draa Oases is prepared by the women of the community for certain occasions, and particularly during the month of Ramadan and other religious celebrations. It is produced with unpasteurized milk fermented for 24 hours at most. The fermentation is sometimes helped by the addition of the extract of local flowers. The curds are salted, warmed, and drained in muslin fabric. There are various differently shaped molds in which the cheese can be stored. The resulting jben is kept for a maximum of seven days at a cool temperature before being served. It can be consumed as it is, or served with olive oil, honey, dates or date syrup. It is sometimes sprinkled with aromatic plants, like thyme, before being consumed.   It should be noted that two races of goats are used to produce this cheese: the local race (Draa) and an introduced race (Alpine). Increasingly, jben is being made with Alpine milk over Draa milk. Production of the cheese is quite low, and especially jben produced with Draa milk is mainly produced at the family level. However, this cheesemaking tradition is being revived by women-run cooperatives in Skoura, Ighrem and other areas. These cooperatives can produce about 50 kg of jben a week, often with Alpine milk, which is usually made to order and sold to inns and hotels. 

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