Ivrindi Kelle Cheese

Ark of taste
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Ivrindi Kelle Peyniri

Ivrindi Kelle is a semi-hard cheese aged in brine that ows its name to its round headed shape (or kelle in Turkish language) produced in the Marmara region of Anatolia in the spring season, usually from both sheep (60-65 %) and cow milk (35-40 %).

Fresh milk is processed at body temperature (35-37° C), when rennet added. The miolk is left to coagulate for about 1 hour before the curd is broken into rice-grain pieces. When the process is completed, 90° C pre-heated water is added to the cauldron with the curd and the whey. When the overall temperature reaches 40-45 degrees Centigrade the fragmented curd thickens and sinks to the bottom. The curd is then placed into draining cloths and left to hang on hooks (a method called tulumlama in Turkish language). As the whey drains off, the hanging cheeses take the rounded head-shape that gives the name "Kelle" (“head” in Turkish language) to the cheese. Ensuring that the remaining moisture drains off evenly throughout the cheese is a crucial aspect of this stage of production. So while the fresh cheese is still hanging inside the cloths, it is repeatedly pierced with long slender steel skewers in a process called şişleme. Next, the cheese mass, which weights 20-25 kg, is divided into five parts and placed in cotton draining cloths, which are hung for a further 12 hours. Once they have lost sufficient moisture and are firmly shaped, the cheeses are placed in 14 percent brine and left for 1 week to develop pores. Then it is moved to cold rooms, where it is placed in brine containing 18 percent salt. İvrindi Kelle cheese is semi-mature in 5 months and fully matured in 12 months. When it is cut, the oil that fills the pores runs out, which is why it is also known as “weeping cheese”.

This cheese is produced across Ivrindi district, within the Balikesir province in the Marmara region of Turkey. Within the district, the village of Kocaavşar is particularly well known for the ability of its cheesemakers, whose skills are well known across Turkey. Here, the know-how needed to prepare this cheese are passed from generation to generation. However, less and less people want to become shepherds and cheesemakers, and there is a strong risk that this cheese may be lost in only one generation.

Kelle cheese has a sharp flavour and a dry texture. Since it melts very well, it is excellent on pasta and as the filling for börek (phyllo-dough salty pastries , on toast, and in gözleme pastries. With its aromatic flavour, people in Turkey prefer it for breakfast.

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Marmara Bölgesi

Production area:Ivrindi district

Other info


Milk and milk products

Nominated by:Nedim Atilla