Brine Cheese

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Feta , brine cheese made from sheep's milk, from mainland Greece
Feta cheese, sheep cheese, goat cheese and other brine cheeses

Brine cheese (seldom also called white sheet cheese ) is a cheese that matures in brine ( brine ).

Brine cheese from different countries

It is made from different types of milk; from cow's milk , sheep's milk , milk mixes made from cow's milk with sheep's milk, milk mixes made from sheep's milk with goat's milk , and less often from buffalo milk .

Brine cheese is often equated with Greek feta in German-speaking countries . An EU regulation from the year 2002 protects the geographical origin from Greece with the name "Feta", whereby the national Greek laws prescribe the production of this cheese in the traditional way. a. includes the exclusive use of sheep or goat milk.

Brine cheese made from cheaper cow's milk was produced or was indeed made from sheep's or goat's milk, but not from Greece, is under names such as white cheese , Balkan cheese or white cheese commercially available.


The brine cheese has a whitish to cream-colored appearance: slightly yellowish when using cow's milk, white with sheep's milk, even lighter with goat's milk, since goat's milk does not contain beta-carotene , which otherwise produces a yellow color. It has no bark.

Brine cheese is a semi-hard cheese . Depending on the fat content, which is particularly high in sheep's milk, it can almost be smeared. When cut, it breaks and crumbles easily. Its surface is moderately moist. The inside is closed, a slight break perforation is possible. If the milk is contaminated with bacteria ( coliform bacteria ), there are cavities in the cheese. Food inspection requires that no coliform bacteria are detectable in 0.1 g cheese.

Its taste is moderately salty-sour to mild or spicy. It has a fresh, sour aroma. The salt content is 3–5%. Its fat content reaches up to 60% fat i. Tr. ( Cream level ) (at least 45% fat in dry matter when made from sheep's milk. This corresponds to an absolute fat content of approx. 22%.) The dry matter is 52–56%. The water content must not exceed 54%.

The brine cheese has a high calcium content. It can be kept for at least 6 months in the brine.

Opened packs quickly become unattractive in taste when they come into contact with air. The cheese ferments quickly and therefore tastes old and sticky. Storage in water or brine prevents the cheese from drying out.

The cheese is sold airtight in foil (with a little brine) or in tin cans . Because of the very high salt content of some brands, the cheese can be soaked in water for a few hours if necessary to reduce the salt content somewhat.

In Greece and Turkey, the brine cheese is often pickled in olive oil , optionally together with various herbal mixtures.


Knife for cutting the curd

The production used to be done in the villages for self-sufficiency in self-production in a very simple way.

The milk is placed in a saucepan and 2-3 ml of enzyme from calf stomach is added as a coagulant ( rennet [Bulgarian мая за сирене "cheese yeast"]: add 20 ml of enzyme (which was previously mixed in water for better mixing) to 10 liters of milk and stir thoroughly). As a result, the milk coagulates completely after about an hour into a gelatinous mass (technical term: thick ), which lies in the partially separated clear whey . Warming the milk up slightly to around 35 ° C accelerates this process. In the case of untreated milk, pasteurization is recommended first (heating to 70 ° C).

The rennet ( rennin , chemically technical: chymosin ) used to be obtained exclusively from calf stomachs . An enzyme preparation that is functionally equivalent to the rennet is now produced microbially and is also known under the name Rennin. The rennet causes coagulation of the milk proteins , the casein , the whey in the remaining egg white begins only to clot once it is heat treated.

All the whey is removed from the curdled mass ( cheese curd ). To do this, the mass is hung up in a cloth for 2 hours and then squeezed out again for 6 hours. The separated whey is collected to make the brine from it. The cheese mass is then cut into cubes of approx. 1 kg and poured with brine (approx. 15% salt content; 200 g salt per 1 liter of whey). The cheese matures in this brine for 45–60 days in the absence of air (it must be completely covered) at a temperature of 10 ° C. The brine for storing the cheese contains only 120 g of salt per 1 liter of whey.

Unlike the feta fermented Bulgarian brine cheese (siren, bulg. Сирене [ siren ]) in the maturation under the influence of Lactobacillus bulgaricus and in developing its sour taste. These bacteria get into prepared milk by adding a little yoghurt .

The Lactobacillus bulgaricus gives it its specific taste and aroma. Lactobacillus bulgaricus also gives it its typical tendency to break and its mushroom-like consistency , because bubbles with carbon dioxide form in the cheese. Compared to yoghurt, cheese ripens ( fermentation ) very slowly, as the temperature for ripening is only 10 ° C.

The brine continues to remove water from the cheese, making it hard and giving it its semi-soft consistency. The brine also gives it a strong salty taste and preserves the cheese (see also salting ). The maturation process can be shortened by increasing the salt content in the brine, but this makes the cheese very salty, which speaks for its poor quality.

This type of siren production ("sheep cheese" production) was well suited for self-sufficiency in the Bulgarian villages. The farmers had milk from their own production (mostly sheep, fewer cows, never goats), only the crops had to be bought. One liter of milk makes about 200 g of brine cheese.

Dry milk

Since Bulgaria 's accession to the EU and the entry into force of the EU hygiene regulations, the amount of hygienically perfect milk is not sufficient for cheese production in Bulgaria, this milk is partly made from dry milk. However, this has no negative impact on the further production process and quality.


The excess whey is a waste product in the making of brine cheese. The organic components from the excess whey can be extracted and reused, e.g. B. as pet food. Sometimes in Bulgaria the whey was illegally discharged into the sewage system or rivers, where the high proportion of organic components and the resulting putrefaction caused severe environmental pollution. The putrefaction processes reduce the oxygen content in the water, which led to the death of fish in smaller rivers .



Brine cheese is traditionally made in the Balkans and Turkey and is used in many Balkan cuisine recipes. It is traditionally mostly made from sheep's milk. In the course of tourism in southern countries from around the 1950s, Greek feta , but also Bulgarian sheep cheese , enjoyed increasing popularity in Central Europe and especially in Germany. This led Danish and German dairies to produce brine cheese as well. Although these were marketed as feta , they were made from cheap cow's milk and had Greek-style packaging. In 1997 Greece applied to the European Union for protection of the name Feta , which since then has only been allowed to refer to brine cheese, which is traditionally made from sheep's milk in the traditional way on the Greek mainland.

Bulgarian brine cheese

In the GDR (until 1989) the Bulgarian brine cheese ( Bulgarian бяло саламурено сирене Bjalo Salamureno Sirene ) was known from vacation trips to Bulgaria. It was known as "Bulgarian sheep cheese" and "Schipka cheese" - another name was "Schopska cheese", as was the Bulgarian Schopska salad  . Shipka (a mountain pass in Bulgaria and an important place in Bulgarian history, site of an important battle) was the only brand name for Bulgarian brine cheese until 1990 (the beginning of the market economy in Bulgaria, after the rule of the Bulgarian communists ). The brine cheese is called siren in Bulgaria ( сирене ; pronunciation: sharp "S" as in Szeged , emphasis on the "i", short "e"), while another word ( kashkawal ) is used for semi-hard cheese . However, the word siren (in combination with the word topeno) is also used for processed cheese and smoked cheese. The root of the Russian word сыр Syr is very reminiscent of siren. However, it generally refers to all types of cheese.


Beyaz peynir from Turkey .

Brine cheese is just as widespread as in Greece in Bulgaria, Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia and the other Balkan countries. In Turkey this cheese is called beyaz peynir ' white cheese ' , in Macedonia сирење sirenje , in Serbia сир sir , in Bulgaria сирене sirene , in Romania brânză and in Russia брынза Brynsa . A well-known brand of brine cheese is made in Israel בולגרית called bulgarit , which literally means 'Bulgarians'. In France, the Valbreso branded brine cheese comes very close to the Bulgarian brine cheese in taste. In Georgia the brine cheese is called Sulguni , in Albania djathë .

Individual evidence

  1. Regulation (EC) No. 1829/2002 of the Commission of October 14, 2002 amending the annex to Regulation (EC) No. 1107/96 of the Commission with regard to the designation "Feta" . In: Official Journal of the European Communities . L 277/10 DE, October 15, 2002.