Tushuri guda is a cheese produced from sheep milk that ripens in a “guda” (bag made from skin of sheep, goat or calf). This cheese has no crust, the color of the paste is yellow. It is dense and elastic, and has eyes of various sizes. This cheese has an intense aroma, and a distinctive slightly spicy, moderately salty pleasant taste.
The milk is heated to 35-37°C. When the curd is formed, it is cut and heated attain to 33-36°C. The mass is removed from the whey and pressed in cloth bags before bing moved to the guda skin-bag. The guda may contain 4 or 5 cheeses alternating with salt layers. In the guda the cheeses are aged for a minimum of 60 days.
It is typically enjoyed with a simple hot cornmeal flatbread. The Tushuri guda making process was thoroughly described in Giorgi Bochoridze’s book "Tusheti" written in the 1920s.
Sheep breeding is main activity of Tushi people, who live in Kakheti during the winter, when roads are closed, and return to Tushetia in the summer to graze their sheep in the Alizavi river valley and produce this cheese. The milk comes from a native breed of Tusheti sheep, called for the ethnic group (Tush) who have long raised animals in this area. Milk yield from this breed is relatively low, with only about 1 glass of milk each day.
This cheese’s popularity has led to many poor-quality imitations made with plastic bags or from different sheep breeds’ milk or cow’s milk. So the cheese can take on an unpleasant odor, and poor quality productions have given this cheese a poor reputation. Tusheti farmers have joined together in an association to safeguard traditional Tushuri guda production.