The favourite delicacy of the people of this area is Grobnik cheese, in whose honour the Festival of Polenta and Cheese is organised every year. Cheese has a very long tradition and specific way of being made. You can find out more by visiting one of the local Grobnik cheesemakers and check out how this traditional Grobnik dish fits into the 21st century.
Grobnik cheese is an indigenous Croatian cheese that belongs to fatty, hard, sheep cheeses.It is yellowish in colour, full of flavour, has a pleasant smell and is permeated with small and large holes.It is interesting to highlight that the first official observations of the production of Grobnik cheese were made in 1935, and here you can read how the cheese was made at that time.
There were no cheese factories for Grobnik cheese, the cheese was made on the pastures or in the woods.The shepherds had special cauldrons hanging over an open fire to heat the milk during the cheesemaking process or to cook the curds.
Sheep were also milked outdoors, and in all weathers.After squeezing the milk into the cheese cauldron, through a rather thin, single-layer cotton cloth, the cauldron was hung over a fire until the cheesemaker established by hand that the cheesemaking temperature had been reached (31°C).After that, the milk was curdled in a cauldron about one metre from the fire, in a shallow hollow.After about an hour, the clotting of the milk was complete, and the cauldron was again placed over the fire, where the cheesy mass in the cauldron was stirred briskly for about 7 minutes (at a temperature of 42°C) and then removed from the fire.Everything was measured in minutes: the cheese mass was left to settle for about 5 minutes, after which the hardness of the settled lump was checked and for the next 4 minutes it was shaped into a ball by hand, which was then transferred to a small wooden churn.In it the cheese was drained and took on a typical shape.Thereby, the process with the cheese in the mountain was complete, so they wrapped it in a bag, and within a few hours to a day, together with the curd made from the remaining whey, they took it to the valley for salting.
It is interesting to mention that it takes as many as 5 litres of sheep’s milk to make 1 kg of Grobnik cheese!
Salting was done at home, 24 hours after the production of the cheese, by placing it in special wooden churns in which the cheese is sprinkled and rubbed with coarse salt. Sometimes the cheese was sold fresh, after just a few days of being salted or after ten days at the most.Normally the cheese is salted for a month, every third day or so the first ten days it is salted every day, the next ten days every second day and the third ten days every third day.
Curds and whey
The use of sheep’s milk in Grobnišćina ended with the cooking of whey for the purpose of obtaining curds.The whey left after the curds is called “žur” and was left to spontaneously pickle and used for drinking. This refreshing and nutritious drink was eagerly drunk by shepherds.Totally deserved.
Learn about the making of Grobnik cheese
We hope that the story of this speciality has interested you and we invite you to visit the original Grobnik cheesemakers who will be happy to open the door to the world of creating this widely known delicacy.The youngest ones will have the opportunity to see the sheep whose milk is the key ingredient in Grobnik cheese, whilst the adults will enjoy tasting the final product.Likewise, don’t miss the big annual Festival of Polenta and Cheese in Čavle at the end of June and see if the cheesemaking process has changed at all since olden days!