Parenica is a typical steamed cheese from the Podpol’anie region in central Slovakia, a mountainous, hilly area known for its distinctive folklore and small villages surrounded by terraced fields. The mountains and hills offer the ideal environment for sheep farming, practiced here since the 14th century. Parenica cheese (the name comes from the Slovak word for “steaming”) is prepared using raw milk from the Valaska, Zosl’achtená Valaska, Cigája and Cýchodofrízska Ovca breeds of sheep. It can also be made from a mix of raw fresh sheep’s and cow’s milk, as long as the sheep’s milk makes up at least 50%. The traditional technique involves heating the sheep’s milk to 32°C, then adding rennet and lactic acid bacteria. The resulting curd is broken up using a lyre-shaped tool to obtain granules which are then worked by hand to form a cohesive mass (hrudka). This is left to drain in a cloth before being placed in a mold and left to ferment, at 20-23°C, for around 24 hours. The curds are then cut into pieces weighing about 500 grams each and placed in a wooden container filled with hot water (60-70°C). The curd is pulled and smoothed along the internal wall of the container using a wooden spatula until it forms a ribbon around 4 to 6 meters long and 6 centimeters wide. This is placed in a cold brine and then wrapped to form the cheese’s characteristic spiral shape. This operation requires an extraordinary level of skill from the herders (bacovia in Slovak), and the stretching technique is passed down from father to son. Once dried, the cheese is smoked for two hours. In 2005, it obtained a PGI. Parenica is eaten as is.