Kashkaval is a cheese that is made up of cow’s milk and is known as Kashkaval Vitosha. Another variation of Kashkaval is Kashkaval Balkan which is made up of sheep’s milk. Kashkaval cheese is very popular in Bulgaria. This is referred to as a portion of traditional food and is used in many recipes. It is used in pizzas and many other dishes in the replacement of other types of cheese. One of the most famous dishes using Kashkaval cheese in Bulgaria is Kashkavalka which is full of Kashkaval cheese from the inside and on the top. Apart from Bulgaria, this cheese is also popular in Israel, Romania, Serbia, Moldova, Albania, etc. It is mainly popular in the areas of eastern Europe. It has a semi-hard but creamy texture. Kashkaval is yellow and salty. Kashkaval cheese’s name was derived from Italian cheese namely Caciocavallo.
It is also known with different names like Cassava in Romania, Kasseri in Greek, Ksara in Turkish, etc. This cheese is popularly known as the ‘cheddar cheese of the Balkans’ because its taste is similar to the cheddar cheese of the U.K. This cheese is produced by keeping the curd in hot water for a period of time and belongs to the pasta filata family. It is quite hard so it can be used for different purposes like grating and grilling and can also be used in lasagna and pizza by melting it.
Kashkaval cheese can be prepared at home as well. For the preparation of the cheese, follow these steps:
First, heat the milk to 75-78° C. You can use goat, sheep, or cow milk. However, using cow milk would be a better option. After heating the milk, let it sit to cool for some time. The milk should be cooled to 35-37°C.
After that, add the Kashkaval starter culture in the milk and let it sit for 5 minutes and then, begin stirring the milk up to 30 minutes.
Add the diluted calcium dichloride in the milk and stir it for about 1-2 minutes. The next step is to add 1/4 tablespoon of liquid animal rennet, which must be diluted in the cool non-chloride water. Stir for 4-5 minutes. After this, cover the milk and leave it for 1 hour. By this time, the milk will be formed into curd. However, if the curd is not formed properly, then you may cover the milk again for another 15-20 minutes.
When the curd is formed, the next step is to cut the curd into small pieces and let it sit for 5 minutes so that all the liquid gets separated properly. Now, start heating the curd and keep raising the temperature by one degree every 4-5 minutes. Heat the curd for two hours and continue raising the temperature every 4-5 minutes.
The next step is to drain the heated curd for 2 hours and then cool it.
After cooling the curd, the next step is to shape the Kashkaval. For this, you must cut the curd into thin pieces like strips. Heat them in a container that contains salt and water at 74-75°C. You should cook these pieces for about 3-4 minutes.
Take out all the pieces and stick them together homogeneously. Keep the curd in any container and press it to give it a homogeneous shape. Have the shaped curd cool for a whole night.
Finally, your Kashkaval is ready!