Though you would never think of Poland as a cheese country, when you give it a second, you’ll actually realize that cheese is entangled with Polish culture as much as soup is. And that’s saying a lot.
Twaróg with eggs for breakfast, cottage cheese with lunch, a cheese strip for when you’re on the run, and a nice Oscypek to go with dinner… Then, there is ‘’yogurty’’ dessert that has little to do with cheese called - serek (little cheese) for the in-between. A cheesecake is a staple food, and there is even a thing like Polish cheese sausage!
Yes, cheese in Poland is inevitable.
Official ‘’cheese history’’ traces the beginnings of cheese making to the Middle East and first civilisations, finding its way into Europe through the Balkans. History also says that traces of cheesemaking have been found on Polish territory, dating back to centuries before Poland even existed. With the recent discovery of cheese making tools, speculations are that this European country has the longest cheese making history. What is known is that it took some time and practice to learn how to ferment milk and it was in the Middle Ages that cheesemaking became an important segment of food production, along with other dairy products. Today, Poland is the sixth largest cheese producing country in the World.
Say (Polish) Cheese!
Cheese in Polish is called ser (IPA: /ˈseɾ/). Then there is diminutive - serek - sometimes used for soft cheese or dense yogurt desserts (usually manufactured by Danone).
It’s good to mention that cheese in Polish is used to describe both white, soft cheese and hard, yellow cheese - it is not the case for all cheese-loving countries.
Top Polish Cheese to Try
There are quite some varieties of cheese in Poland to try. From those loved internationally (mozzarella), to local ones, you won’t go (cheese) hungry.
Here is a list of the top few traditional Polish cheeses to try!
1. Oscypek Smoked Cheese
Polish cheese Oscypek is a very traditional, smoked cheese made of sheep milk in (exclusively) Tatry region in Poland, which is why it’s sometimes called Polish mountain cheese or Polish grilled cheese. It has been registered under the European Union PDO.
Its taste is quite strong, something that kids might hesitate to try, and is not considered an everyday food in most of Poland, rather a delicacy. Oscypek Polish cheese comes in wonderful designs and patterns, making it a great choice for a casual gift. If you would like to try it, there is a variety you can find online.
And, along with Oscypek, the following types of cheese are worth a mention:
Gołka, a type of cheese often mistaken for Oscypek because of its similar presentation, but unlike sheep’s milk cheese, this one is made from cow’s milk.
Redykołka cheese of a funny name, also made from sheep's milk, is often made in different shapes other than circular, representing animals or hearts, and it comes from the Polish region Podhale, another mountainous area.
2. Twaróg White Cheese
Twarog cheese is also known as being Polish farmer’s cheese,not to be mistaken for cottage cheese. It is a Polish white cheese, sometimes served as it is, with eggs or a salad for breakfast, and sometimes with added dill or other fresh herbs. Of all Polish cheeses, this one is the most commonly found in Polish households.
Its soft consistency makes it a great spread, while its neutral taste helps use it in preparation of both sweet and sour dishes.
You can also try and make your own Polish Twarog cheese, following the link here.
3. Serek Wiejski White Cheese
Though traditionally not Polish cheese, cottage cheese is a very popular food in Poland, consumed usually during breakfast or as a side dish. It is a cheese you are likely to find in every household’s fridge, produced by the company Piątnica.
As for a typical farmer’s cheese, there is
4. Brydza White Cheese
Bryndza is a soft, white, sheep milk cheese with a strong (well, sheepy) taste and smell. This cheese from Poland is not very popular as an everyday cheese, but definitely one that is marketed as being healthy to consume, due to its origin.
Brydza Podhalańska is one of the varieties of Polish cheeses preserved under the European Union’s PDO.
5. Bursztyn Mature Cheese
Bursztyn cheese (with name translating to ‘’amber’’) is a type of a premium, mature cheese made by Skarby Serowara company. It is the best choice for a cheese plate if you’re hosting a Polish inspired dinner party.
6. Yellow Cheese or Ser żółty
Though not being the actual name of a type of a cheese, yellow cheese is used to describe all (yellow) cheese that you can cut into plasters. And there is a special place for Polish kanapki - sandwiches that are difficult to imagine without a nice, soft, tasty plaster of ser żółty.
This goes for varieties like Polish Edam (Edamer), Masdamer, Ser Łowicki… and all other standard and loved cheese from Europe.
And when in Poland - chances are you will also come across Polish blue cheese varieties, like Rockpol. In short - all you love about cheese, trust Poland to have it.
Hope you liked learning about Polish cheeses - now make a stop to our shop for some cool Polish kitchenware to glow up your cheese presentation.
And for those lactose intolerant, here is a consolation prize - a little video to put a smile on your face: 8 Polish Foods of Christmas. No cheese involved.