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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » September 28, 2012
Regional and Traditional Products
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Ser koryciński / Korycin Cheese
September 28, 2012   
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This August, another Polish foodstuff gained legal protection. The European Union’s list of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications now includes ser koryciński swojski, or “rustic cheese from Korycin.” This means the EU registers now list 35 Polish products.

Korycin cheese is a ripening cheese made from raw whole milk, which gives it the special aroma of fresh milk. It has a flattened spherical shape and a corrugated texture on the surface, created by the strainers it is made in. The cheese is moist and elastic, with numerous evenly spaced small holes. Depending on how long it is left to mature, the cheese can be fresh, matured or ripe. There are also several variations of Korycin cheese depending on what spices and fresh or dried herbs have been added, for example pepper, paprika, basil, lovage, mint, dried mushrooms, garlic or olives.

Korycin cheese—a local rennet cheese—is made in the Korycin district in Podlasie, a region in northeastern Poland. In the traditional production method, the rennet came from dried powdered calf stomachs. Local legend has it that Korycin’s residents learned to make cheese from the Swiss, whose regular military units, fighting on Poland’s side during the Polish-Swedish war in 1655-1660, took part in battles in Podlasie. Afterwards, wounded soldiers stayed at the Kumiała manor farm near Korycin to recuperate and some of them might have remained in Poland for good and shared the secrets of cheese making with the locals.

Korycin cheese can be called simply swojski (a word meaning rustic, local). It is formed into a flattened ball around 30 cm in diameter and weighing about 2.5-5 kg. It takes 25 liters of milk to make that amount of cheese.

Traditionally, the cheese was carried in wooden molds and placed on flail-threshed rye straw in cellars where it ripened for many weeks. These days, ready-made rennet is used instead of powdered stomachs and the ripening time is also much shorter. The flavor of Korycin cheese depends both on the herbs and other natural additions used and on the ripening time; it can even depend on the time of year.

This latest Polish specialty to be registered in the EU is made in Podlasie province, a region traditionally specializing in milk and dairy production. Mainly raw milk was sold in the past, but many farms made butter and swojski cheese for their own needs and for sale. Cheese making was mainly a way of using up all the milk a farm produced and ensuring a varied diet. Today Korycin cheese is becoming more widely known and is sought-after, especially in northern and central Poland.

In 2005 swojski cheese from Korycin was entered on the list of traditional products at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The Association of Korycin Cheese Producers has around 30 members.
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