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Sirene, a white cheese, also known as white brine serene is a popular cheese of Bulgaria and is derived from goat, cow or sheep’s milk. It is a soft cheese with a flaky and rough texture which can be easily cut. Sirene has a mild tangy flavor, is prepared in blocks, commonly eaten in Bulgaria and many other countries of Europe.

Origin and History of Bulgarian White Cheese

The Bulgarian feta cheese, serene or white brine cheese is known for its origination in Trakia region of Southern part of Bulgaria. Traditionally this cheese was only made of goat’s milk but now it is prepared from the milk of sheep and cow and sometimes even by combination milk.

Culinary Use of Sirene Cheese

  • The briny flavor of Sirene makes it pair well with white wines, tomato juice and light red wines.
  • This white cheese is usually served with cured meats, olives and bread.
  • Bulgarian white cheese is often eaten by shredding on fruits and vegetables. Watermelon is one of the fruits that is usually served with white cheese crumbled on it.
  • The cheese also tastes good when sprinkled on desserts.
  • Sirene is also served with salads.
  • The cheese is also used to add taste to many vegetable dishes of Bulgaria and other European countries. Bjurek, a fried pepper dish makes use of this cheese and is one of the most sought after dishes of Bulgarian cuisine.

Method Of Preparation And Ingredients Used- Sirene Cheese

To make this white cheese of Bulgaria, the milk is heated to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and then buttermilk and lipase enzyme is added to it and the milk is stirred continuously for an hour. Liquid rennet is put in the milk and after stirring for a minute, the milk is left for an hour until it gets thick. Once done, the milk is stirred and the curd is scooped and drained into feta molds and left overnight. The cheese is taken out from the molds and divided into pieces and is salted from all sides evenly. The cheese is refrigerated for a week and cut into smaller pieces. If not in use, the cheese is kept in a 7% brine solution.

Popular Sirene Cheese Recipes

  • Shopska salad- It is a traditional Bulgarian salad made by combining vegetables with olives, vinegar and Sirene.
  • Bulgarian potato salad- A tasty potato salad made by adding Bulgarian feta cheese; usually served with fish dishes.
  • Banitza- It is a baked creamy pastry and one of the traditional Bulgarian dishes.
  • Bulgarian Rhodopean Moussaka- It is a meat preparation which combines vegetables, herbs and spices with cheese and meat.
  • Refreshing Creamed Zuccini Soup- Rich in taste and texture, this soup preparation combines vegetables with chicken stock and Bulgarian feta cheese.

Bulgarian Cheese in Different Cuisines

Cheeses similar to Bulgarian feta cheese are produced in many countries, but are known by different names. The similar cheese in Albania is called, djath; Belo Sirjenje in Republic of Macedonia, white cheese is Israel and Turkey, brynza in Ukraine, Panir in Iran, and Naghag in Malta.

Buying and Storing Sirene Cheese

Sirene or Bulgarian feta cheese can be easily bought from the nearby stores. It is advisable to look for yellow stains and molds on cheese. Also the expiry date and date of manufacturing should be considered before buying. Sirene should be stored in a place free of moisture. It can also be stored in salted water in order to ensure a longer shelf life. The Bulgarian cheese can also be stored by refrigerating. If frozen, the cheese should be thawed to bring it back to its shape and flavor.

Trivia- Bulgarian Sirene Cheese

Anthony Worrel Thompson, a known TV chef considers Bulgarian serene cheese as the “best feta cheese in the world”.