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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » June 3, 2015
Regional and Traditional Products
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Bryndza podhalańska
June 3, 2015   
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Bryndza podhalańska (sheep’s milk cheese from the southern Podhale region), one of the most recognizable Tatra Mountain cheeses, in 2007 became the first Polish regional product registered by the European Commission. Bryndza podhalańska is a soft rennet cheese made in the Podhale region from sheep’s milk or sheep’s milk mixed with the milk of the Polish Red cattle breed. It is made in shepherd huts during the summer sheep-grazing season.

The bryndza-making tradition dates back to the 16th century and is connected with the culture of Wallachian shepherds who wandered through the Carpathian Mountains. Making sheep’s milk cheese was of key importance in sheep farming in the Podhale region over the centuries. Shepherds taking their sheep to mountain pastures to graze would spend several months there. During this time they subsisted almost exclusively on sheep’s milk and its products. The knowledge and skills related to making bryndza podhalańska were passed on from generation to generation and today this is an art known only to producers from the region. The production of this unique cheese is made possible by a combination of natural factors, special skills and sticking to the traditional recipe.

The traditional production method guarantees that the final product is of the highest quality and has the required unique flavor. The name bryndza, from the Romanian brinze, comes from Wallachian shepherds grazing their sheep in mountain pastures. The cheese was made by the wandering Wallachian tribes that reached Poland traveling along the Carpathian Mountains.

The quality of the final product is due to the special place where it is made. The region has rich and diverse vegetation, with many species found only in the Podhale area, growing in the meadows and pastures there. Sheep feed on this unique mixture of plants in the grazing season. The area where bryndza podhalańska is made is one of the cleanest regions not only in Poland but in the whole of Europe. This area stretches between four national parks: Gorczański National Park in the north, Tatrzański National Park in the south, Babiogórski National Park in the west and Magurski National Park in the east. A fifth one, Pieniński National Park, lies in the very heart of the bryndza-making region.

The cheese owes its special flavor to the raw ingredients that go into it. Bryndza podhalańska is made with milk from Polish mountain sheep, which are closely linked to the history and tradition of the Podhale region and its inhabitants. Sometimes milk is added from Polish Red cows, a native breed.

Apart from traditional production methods, the cheese also owes its unique properties to natural factors. The unique flora of the Tatra Mountains and Podhale on which the local sheep graze has a huge impact on the final quality of the sheep’s milk used to make bryndza.
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