Litovsky ('Lithuanian') Cheese

The popularity of Lithuanian cheese was mentioned by Frantishek Bogushevich in St. Petersburg weekly newspaper "Krai" on September 18, 1888: "The current "Industrial and agricultural exhibition" introduces 270 exhibits, among which... there are 8 dairy products (mainly cheese, the so-called Lithuanian cheese, whose production was started by Brakhotskaya 29 years ago in Gorodea town)". If we substract 29 years from year 1888, we get the date of the beginning of the tradition of Lithuanian rennet cheese making - 1859. It turns out that Brakhotsky sisters took up cheese-making immediately after their father's death in 1858. This is indirectly confirmed by the report of the officer of the Russian General staff, I. Zelensky, who wrote in 1864: "A lot of attention is paid to the maintenance and breeding of cows by landowners, especially in Novogrudok, Slutsk and Pinsk counties. In the first of them, namely, in the estates of count Hreptovich (Shchorsy) and landowner Brachotsky (Gorodea), excellent cheese is produced, which is sold in cities for 20 kopecks per pound. Brachotsky's cheese is known for its wonderful qualities even in Vilnius.

According to Bogushevich's information, Lithuanian cheese production spread from Minsk province to Vilna – just like that, and not the other way round! This, of course, is pleasant to hear for the fans of our litvinism, but in fact there is no connection with the mythical “Slavic-speaking Litvins of Vytautas". However, there is a certain regularity and historical logic in the fact that Novogrudchyna - the land of Reitan and Kosciusko, Mickiewicz and Syrokomlia - was the first in long-standing historical Lithuania to introduce the new technology into our region. So gradually, applying the production to the local climatic conditions and microbiological features, a new type of cheese emerged, which we could be justly proud of, but... Lithuanian cheese is no more here, so we are proud of other things.

The production of Lithuanian cheeses has never been a "folk art" — cheese-making in the European style was technologically too complex not only for post-reform peasants, but also for the old-world noblemen. New cheeses were produced only by professional (or semi-professional) cheesemakers and were intended exclusively for sale. Calling them Lithuanian, buyers in distant capitals either did not know that they came from Western Belarus, or did not see the difference between it and ethnic Lithuania - at the hight of Lithuanian cheese-making, the name "Belarus" had not yet spread so far to the West. Later, in the 1930s, Jan Chislnersky wrote:

"A certain type of cheese was made, which was different from Edam and possessed certain original features. The shape was spherical or barrel-shaped, the weight was about 2 kg; the crust was kept moist, covered with ointment; the flesh of cheeses was juicy, tasted more like Gouda cheese than Edam cheese, elastic, with a few holes of the size of peas. The maturation was faster than that of Edam cheeses, because it was made from fat local milk (more than 3.8% fat), and not from rare milk, as later became customary.

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This website was updated and maintained with the financial support of the European Union in the frame of Project Nr. ENI-LLB-1-016 "Preservation and Promotion of Culinary Heritage and Traditional Skills" (BELLA CULTURE).
Its contents are the sole responsibility of Belarusian Association of Rural and Ecotourism "Country Escape" and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.