Traditional dairy products in Anatolia

gamze Festivalden Kareler

Traditional dairy products in Anatolia

I would like to start by thanking
Slow food Organization,
City of Bra,
slow food Bodrum
Prof Artun Unsal the author of
when mılk sleeps, ufuk Kamber
and most important of all
you all for giving me the
opportunity to introduce
you to Anatolian Cheeses.
İ also apologize , because of my
Short memory i will be using my notes

I would like to start my speech
by defining Anatolia



When we look at the history of Anatolia begins with prehistoric times,
including Hitite Empire,
Hellenistic period, roman and
Seljuk and Ottoman Empire.

Anatolia was from the beginnings of civilization a crossroads for numerous
people migrating or conquering from
either continent.

Even though we have no idea
how cheese production started,
when looking back in history
the practice is related to
domestication of milk
producing animals,

Primarily sheep which began
8-10,000 years ago.

Both in Greek mythology
and Egyptian tombs evidence
of cheese making has been
found going back to 2000 BC.

Thus shows that Anatolian cheese
production goes back to 2000bc.

According to ass prof UFUK Kamber
more than 130 varieties of cheese
are to be found in Anatolia,
besides cheese,

Yogurt, Aryan are most consumed
products, there is also Cream
and butter.
Obviously it is impossible
for me to enlighten you on
all these cheeses in such
a short time, not only that
even I have not tasted most of them.
However I will like to give you
general idea by dividing dairy
products IN regional bases taken
from the research made by Artun unsal

Central and Eastern ANATOLIAN REGION:


Most cheeses are sheep’s
or goat milk, and they are buried
in the ground to mature.

Reason being most of the
livestock is either sheep or goat

The production is made daily and
buried in ground for aging.


, kasar cheese, white cheese,
mihalic cheese and lor cheese,
animal                                                                                       livestock in this region
is mostly cows, and production
is made in larger factories.


Goat’s milk variety of tulum stored
in animal skin


Process of heating soft curd,
sikma sunme, stretch


These cheeses are first place in
Terms of diversity
both the
Quantity and the variety of
the region’s cheeses are
considerable numerous
varieties of non-fat and (stringy),
stretchy cheeses are to be found.


Goats milk cheese softer spreading

From all these dairy products
Yogurt, Ayran and Butter has
by far the vast usage,
it is known and consumed in
all regions. Besides these
products 5 varieties of
cheeses are common to all regions
white cheese, kashar cheese,
cokelek cheese,tulum cheese
and CURD cheese.

I would like to go in to detail
for 5 entirely different dairy
products that are from Antioch
from which 3 have been applied for geographical indication,
Besides the fact that I produce these products I decided to introduce these products because of the resemblance
of the tastes to fellow speaker’s
countries, Iran, India and Georgia.
It is a common knowledge to us
all that all these different types of
dairy production techniques
came out from preserving fresh
milk in differing in climates.

Antioch is situated in southern
Mediterranean region with its
hot and humid air. Thus allowing
the people performs their unique
techniques to produce dairy products.

Main animal being goats which
were kept mostly on the mountains.
The goat milk would be available
during May till September so the
shepherds would bring the animals
to the city to sell their milk.
Locals would buy the milk
according to their yearly need,
and produce their dairy products.

Salted yogurt: goat milk would
Be heated to 50 degrees and
yeast would be added, it would
be kept for one day to sour then
it would be put in

Copper pots and would be
Cooked on wood stoves and
add salt to it.

The yogurt would be kept in
glass jars covered with oil.

Through this technique people
are able to use this product
throughout winter.

The yogurt would have a
sour taste, unlike normal
yogurt this product would
be used as an ingredient
in meals, such as soups, (
yogurt soup) or put olive oil
mint and red paper and
use it during breakfast etc.

This salted yogurt both tastes
and used similar way as
Famous Iranian Kashk

With no refrigerator, people
came up with different and
healthier storage system
such as clarified butter.

Water is added to yogurt
and with the use of wooden
churner the fat will be
collected to make butter.

To preserve butter for a
long time they would heat it
and get rid of the water and
remains what would be left
would be clarified butter
they would put it in glass jars
and use it all year round.

This is also called ghee in India.
Remains from the yogurt,

would boil it and drain it in bags.

Once dry they would mix it with

Cumin, corriendar, oregano
and pepper paste dry it in the
sun and the wind.
This cheese will be kept easily
for a while, some leave it to
mold liking the taste others
eat it while fresh.
Surk as it is called would be
eaten either with olive oil or put
İn to salads.

Interestingly the herbs used ,
Cumin,coriander red paper
are all good for digestion,
reduces food born infection
and has antioxidant effect.

Which makes surk not only
cheese it is also natural
healing product.

Fresh unsalted cheese kunefe:
Milk has to be raw 36 degrees
rennet is added

When it is ready the cut the curd

Put the curd in a cloth to
drain the water with a pressure
When no water is left leave
the cheese for the next day
in room temperature for the
pH to drop once pH is
app. 5.1 then the cheese
is ready to stretch with the heat.

This cheese is used with
deserts. During old days
when the house produced
Cheese they would leave some
Till the next day to make desert
kunefe,which is made with
shredded wheat, syrup and
a salt-free curd cheese,
Kunefe cheese

Since this cheese would
only stay in this content for
one or two days, you can only
eat real kunefe desert in the Antioch .

To make rest of the cheese
last longer it will be cut
into piece, boiled, kneaded
and brined it is called sunme (
stretch cheese)
And has a similar taste to
Sulgini from Georgia.

Cara cheese

Fresh goat cheese is made
same way as kunefe cheese
Salt is added to the cheese
and leave it under pressure
for couple of days until it
is very dry.

Cokelek made from cows
yogurt will be mixed with
black sesami
one layer is put in an
earth waven jar next layer
is fresh salted goat cheese
this is repeated till the jar is full.

The jar is turned upside
down for ten days till all
the water is out, then the
remainder will be filled with
cokelek and cover it with
zahter (mountain oregano)
and earth and buried in the
ground upside down for at
least 6 months.Again this type
of cheese was made for
winter usage. Unfortunately
this cheese is not made
much anymore and it seems to be disappearing.

As for simple question there
are at least 130 cheeses
and many more dairy
products are they known
they are not known as I
mentioned previously
only 5 varieties of cheeses
are common to people.

Main reason for this is
because traditional cheeses
are mostly produced in villages,

there is no food safety or
Standards to the products.
They have no means to reach
end users through national
markets. What are sold
nationwide are mostly
industrialized products.

Cities municipalities,
chamber of commerce etc
does not give any support
for advertising these products
so small producers are left to
their faith.

As for my story how I over
came all this,
Antioch is an agricultural
city with vast amounts of
production land.

City because of where
it is situated has many
special and different food
culture, however because
there is no standard nor
food safety it is not widely
known in the national market.

I moved to Antioch 4 years
ago my husband, whose
family has been a farmer,
ended up with 15 cows
not knowing what to do
with their milk; I came up
with the idea of making
traditional dairy products.

I decided to combine tradition
with science; went to MKM
University and started
working with Prof Yahya
kemal avsar, whom had
believed and had been working on geographical indications for 17 years.

We planned a small
production plant with
the capacity of 3000 lt milk
per day. I also started to work

with a Traditional cheese
producer trained all the
employees on how to make
handmade cheeses the old way.

Once we standardized every
product and had food safety,
we trained our employees. We
Also build small machinery
According to our needs.
I then started to market
our traditional products in
the national market,
first I went to Metro gross
market, where they had
started a new Project, and
they were selling traditional
From that point one
and a half years ago we
now sell our products in
all of the national markets
in traditional goods corner.
By all means national grocery
stores do realize what an
important role they are
playing by selling traditional
Most people especially
living in big cities have never
tasted traditional products
nor have tasted real cheese,
because of industrial products.
We have yet to overcome
some problems, such as

Milk is one of our biggest
problems, since we produce
with raw milk we have to control
the quality of the milk even
though most of the milk comes
from our own farm we get milk
from different farms,
the quality of the milk has to be
İn a standard CLEAN AND

All our production is handmade,
so we tend to have more
employees than other
industrial producers have
which raises our cost.

Laws that are passed are
determined by big industrial
factories, they are no special
laws for traditional production;
obviously we tend to straggle
with the high expectations from the government, or those who come
to audit our factory.

Besides, production and
cost, our products are not
known by end users since
the city has no means to
advertise traditional cheeses
we need to take the matter
to our own hand and try
to introduce our products
to end users, organizing
tasting, attending fairs etc.
Unfortunately I am the only
producer in Antioch with
such standards so I am
alone in introducing these
products in the national
and international markets.
Looking from another aspect
I started with 250 let milk
per day now I am producing
and selling 1000 lt per day
over a period of 18 months,
Not only am I selling our
products in the national
market I am also able to
introduce Antioch’s traditional
cheeses in the international Arena.
I obviously have a long road to go
However this was my dream
and am for filling it slowly,