STA, 25 July 2022 - The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food has temporarily protected at the national level a type of sheep milk cheese from the Istria region, Istrski ovčji sir/Istarski ovčji sir, using a protected designation of origin. The move was initiated by Slovenian and Croatian sheep breeders.
The Istrian cheese is made from raw or pasteurised sheep milk produced by sheep bred in Slovenian and Croatian Istria, including the Croatian islands of Cres and Lošinj, the smaller islands of Unije, Ilovik, Susak, Vele Srakane and a number of uninhabited islands.
The sheep are bred in semi-extensive type of farming, which involves grazing on pastures with typical Mediterranean plants, the ministry said.
It noted that the Istrian sheep milk cheese was a hard, full-fat cheese, cylindrical in shape, with a diameter of between 16 and 22 centimetres. It is between 6 and 9 centimetres high and weighs between 1.8 and 4.5 kilograms.
The cheese must be matured for at least 60 days. It is characterised by its high dry matter content (60%) so it can be stored at higher temperatures as well.
The rind is smooth, lemon-yellow to dark yellow, uniform in colour. The cheese is straw to golden yellow in cross-section, usually without holes, although it may have irregularly spaced openings of up to 4 millimetres in size.
The cheese must be not only produced but also packaged in Istria and must carry a special label.
Before producers start producing Istrski ovčji sir/Istarski ovčji sir, they must obtain a certificate that their production is in line with the specification, the ministry added.