Darling, Say Cheese!

Tradition of dairy production in Slovenia

By Slovenian Tourist Board

Konjščica mountain pasture (2015-12-21) by Aleš Zdešar, Arhiv Javni forvod Triglavski narodni parkSlovenian Tourist Board

Imagine this is your working space. No unnecessary phone calls, stressful meetings and overtime. But not to be mistaken - it’s not an easy job. There’s no overtime because you’re there 24/7. 

There’s always a lot of work and waking up early is a must. But what a beautiful 24/7 that is, you’re always breathing fresh air and you're connected with pure nature. It’s peaceful, but you’re not lonely - you have splendid company.

Shepherd in Zajamniki hill on Pokljuka plateau by CJ STUDIO d.o.o., photo Ciril JazbecSlovenian Tourist Board

That’s not only a job, but a lifestyle of Slovene shepherds. Every summer they stay in shepherds' huts on mountain plateaus and make sure that cows are happy and safe.  

They often gladly welcome visitors with homemade dairy products or some other local goodies.

Cheese Trnič (2020) by Mitja KobalSlovenian Tourist Board

At the mountain plateau of Velika Planina, you can find a pretty special traditional cheese, Trnič. 

In the past, the shepherds used to give them to their chosen ones, as Trnič is not only delicious, but also beautifully decorated.

Cows on parade by Marko ŠinkovecSlovenian Tourist Board

When the summer is over, it’s time for the journey to the valley, where the cows spend the colder months. 

The journey is sometimes pretty long and you wouldn’t believe how difficult, steep and tiresome some paths can be. But cows don’t mind any precipices, they are quite capable mountaineers. 

Cows' Ball (2017-10-25) by Andrej TarfilaSlovenian Tourist Board

And what a great welcome they get in the valley! In Bohinj they appreciate cows so much that they dedicated a whole festival to them - Cows' Ball! 

Every year, they celebrate the end of the grazing season.

Cows' Ball in Bohinj (2016) by Mitja SodjaSlovenian Tourist Board

Until the 1950s, it was mainly a holiday for the locals. Now, the festival is more than 60 years old and is one of the biggest events in the region. 

Cow looking at the camera (2016) by Katja JemecSlovenian Tourist Board

Slovenia’s dairy tradition dates back to simpler times, before automatization and factories, where a cow was sometimes a farmer’s most treasured possession. 

Farmer feeding a calf (2016) by Katja JemecSlovenian Tourist Board

The love for cows is something that hasn’t changed even with the changing of the times and the industry, and it is the most important prerequisite for the tasty products that come out of this equation. 

Only happy cows can produce the healthiest and tastiest milk, which everyone in Slovenia recognises.

Farmer feeding cows (2016) by Katja JemecSlovenian Tourist Board

No wonder that an overwhelming amount of dairy products consumed is local. There are even some milk vending machines. 

The milk is unprocessed, so you must boil it if you don’t plan to use it in the next two days. Because of that it’s perfect for making dairy products at home. 

Production of cheese (2016) by Katja JemecSlovenian Tourist Board

The equipment used in cheese production today is much more modern than that of a hundred years ago, while the procedures remain the same as in the past.

Pouring milk (2016) by Katja JemecSlovenian Tourist Board

First, the milk from the collection tanks after milking is poured into boilers, where it is slowly heated.

Adding lactic culture into the milk (2016) by Katja JemecSlovenian Tourist Board

While heating and mixing, lactic cultures are gradually added in, which triggers the natural coagulation of the milk.

Cutting coagulated milk (2016) by Katja JemecSlovenian Tourist Board

Then they cut up the coagulated milk into smaller pieces with the help of a cheese harp.

Grainy cheese pieces (2016) by Katja JemecSlovenian Tourist Board

The small ​​cheese pieces are then slowly stirred to get rid of the excess liquid whey - and become smaller and grainy. 

Getting cheese into a mould (2016) by Katja JemecSlovenian Tourist Board

After the previous step is finished, they collect the grainy cottage cheese into a mould, where the cheese is compressed into its final form.

Soaking the cheese in salt (2016) by Katja JemecSlovenian Tourist Board

The last step before leaving the cheese to age in a cellar is soaking it in large pools of salt water for a few hours.

Cleaning the cheese (2016) by Katja JemecSlovenian Tourist Board

Finally, the cheese is left to rest for a couple of months, only to be picked up and turned over every now and then to be cleaned.

Cheese maturation (2016) by Katja JemecSlovenian Tourist Board

So what you get today doesn’t differ that much from what you got many years ago - cheese that is full of flavour and enjoyed by many across the region. 

Butter (2016) by Katja JemecSlovenian Tourist Board

Slovenes really know how to enjoy life - their traditional breakfast includes locally made butter on freshly baked bread. 

And of course some local honey on top! The most important meal of the day couldn’t be more delicious.

Credits: Story

🐄 Special thanks: 
Pustotnik farm 

🐄 Sources:
Caw’s Ball, Municipality of Bohinj
Milk vending machines 
Pustotnik farm 

🐄 Story by Eva Bizjan

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Slovenian Stories
Discover with us the most densely forested country in Europe, it's natural beauties, intangible heritage, local crafts, people and how they're all connected to nature.
View theme
Google apps