Cheese is a word denoting a product obtained from curdled milk, the curd, but for yellow, hard cheeses a word kаčkаvаlј (Caciocavallo ) is often used. When we in Serbia say cheese, most often we think of chunks of white, cottage cheese, the sort that has been produced in the region for ages. White cheese can be of cow, sheep, mixed or goat, the last one being especially valued. Cheese is made in the way that first milk is warmed up in a pot and then rennet is added, a curdling agent. When milk curdles and whey is separated, the curd is cut with a knife and left onto a piece of gauze to drain off the whey. This first product is called the curd (grušа or grudа) and is also considered a delicacy. When the curd is drained, it is then pressed and left to rest for a while. Afterwards cheese is cut into chunks which are then salted and placed in a wooden bucket. Thus made cheese can last for months. The most important thing in making cheese is good hygiene, as only the unsoiled cheese can preserve. Depending on the time it is left to rest, we can get new or mature (old) cheese. The new cheese can also be unsalted and there is a sort of white cheese made without the rennet or any salt; the curd is crumbled and it is called Swabian (švаpski) cheese. The whey, left after cheese making, is also a very healthful product.
The Serbian white and soft cheese in chunks is mostly made around the Morava region. Famous are the mature, the hard ones: of Zlаtаr, Sјеnica, Hоmоlјe, Vlаch. Every year on the Zlаtаr slopes, there the “Cheese Festival”, competitions of masters in making cheese and other dairy products (curded cream, yogurt, cream …) The Zаsаvicа reserve near Srеmska Мitrоvica makes a unique sort of very exoensive cheese made of donkey’s milk.
Cheese was made in Asia thousands of years B.C., in Egypt it was 4,000 B.C., and the oldest pictogram about cheese making dates back to Mesopotamia to 3,500-2,800 B.C. In the Mediterranean, cheese making was developed by the Greeks and the Romans. In Serbia it dates to the Middle Ages (the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries), when this country was renowned for cheese production.