Oscypek is an absolute must taste when you visit Polish mountains. It is a smoked cheese made of salted sheep milk, produced in a traditional way in little shepherds’ huts. Polish highlanders make it entirely by hand using only wooden tools. Oscypek production is a long process. In springtime shepherds take their sheep to pasture in the mountain meadows. The cheese is made from May to September only and may be purchased until the end of October. The production starts with milking sheep in the morning. The milk is then filtered and curdled. The formed cheese is then put into special wooden moulds that give it a traditional cylindrical form and original ornaments. Later, oscypek is soaked in salt water and after draining it is smoked over pine or spruce wood in the same hut where it is prepared. The colour of the cheese varies from pale lemon to brown depending on time of smoking.
Oscypek owes its distinctive salty taste to the natural ingredients used in its production. It is made from unpasteurized sheep milk. The cow or goat milk content cannot exceed 40 percent.
A perfect opportunity to get to know the traditional production of this famous Polish cheese offers the Oscypek Festival organized in summer in Zakopane, Tatra Mountains. It gives a chance to meet with highlander culture, tradition and folklore. Shepherds present their products and show the stages of cheesemaking process. Other attractions include staging of shepherds’ daily works and habits (among others, sheep farming), as well as local handicraft or regional culinary fairs.
Paying a visit to a mountain hut of cheesemaker-shepherds and tasting a fresh oscypek will be undoubtedly a unique and interesting experience.