There is no visit to Zakopane without trying this regional cheese. The real and original oscypek made from sheep’s milk, smoked, hand-shaped in wooden frames. Salty, so that it survives long storage because initially, oscypek produced only during the pasture of sheep. Cheeses similar to oscypek are also available but made from cow’s milk or with a large admixture.
Firstly cheese gets grinding, and it separates it from the whey. Then the cheese is pressed in a wooden form to make a characteristic pattern on its surface. In the dialect of highlanders, the word “scypiy się” means that the form splits in two to remove the cheese. And the name of the form itself is “oscypiorka.”
First, sheep get milked, then the milk is poured into a bucket. To separate impurities such as grass or straw remains, the milk is filtered through a linen cloth and heated. Then add rennet, traditionally made of calf or lamb stomachs. The curd milk produces a cheese mass, kneaded in the form of balls.
After brewing in hot water, cheese goes into wooden forms. However, this is not the end of the process. Oscypek still needs to get to the salt bath for a whole day. A saltwater solution contains so much salt that it extracts excess water from the cheese and kills bacteria. Thanks to this, oscypek is durable and does not spoil.
Then comes the final stage, smoking. Traditionally, it takes place on the top shelf in the shepherd’s hut. So the cheese smokes in the smoke of spruce or pine. Smoking gives oscypek a characteristic skin color and aftertaste.
Oscypek registered as a Protected Designation of Origin since February 14, 2008. It specifies that the maximum admixture of cow’s milk is 40%, and it can be produced only in specific communes.
Due to the necessity of using sheep’s milk, it can be made from May to September and sold until the end of October. The weight of oscypek cheese should be 600-800 grams and the length 17-23cm.