The cheese produced in the rock-carved caves of Güzelyurt in the district of Aksaray in the Cappadocia region,which is famous for its underground cities and fairy chimneys, is popular with domestic and international tourists.
Manager Hacer Özkaya learned how to make cheese from local people four years ago. She then began producing cheese in the rock-carved caves, keeps the cheese she produces from sheep and goat milk in ceramic containers and buries them under special sand for at least one year. The more that Özkaya’s exclusive cheese is stored in the bacteria-free cave, the more its value increases.
In a statement to Anadolu Agency, Özkaya said she only produces cheese with goat and sheep’s milk during July and August. Stressing that during these months the animals only feed on green plants, Özkaya said: “We only take the milk after July 15 since the animals get rid of the silage in their bodies during that period. We ferment the milk ourselves. Following the production, we bury the cheese under the sand in ceramic containers. The sand removes the bitter taste of the cheese over time.”
She explained that cheese produced in this way has a special taste and flavor. “The cheese is protected from insects in the cave as it is stored under the sand.” According to Özkaya, the cheese should be stored for at least seven months “because the bacteria in cheese only dies after seven months following the fermentation process,” she said. Özkaya keeps the cheese waiting in order to let blue mold grow on the cheese. “We then uncover the ceramic containers a year or a year-and-a-half later,” she said.Saying that they have cheese that has been buried for almost four years, she stressed: “The more they wait, the better they get. The local and natural tastes are forgotten. By producing cheese in a cave, we want to protect local tastes while paving the way for other producers.”
As the cave in which Özkaya produces cheese does not receive sunlight and the humidity is low, cheese production is easier. The sand that they bury the cheese in is volcanic sand that Özkaya collects from Mount Hasan, which is an inactive volcano. In addition, the ceramic containers that are used to store the cheese are brought from the famous town of Avanos. Özkaya highlighted that her cheese is a bit more expensive than others on the market. “Producing cheese requires hard work,” she explained. “We produce it from natural milk.” As Özkaya produces cheese mostly from goat’s milk, which can be hard to get, it is no surprise that goat’s milk cheese is rather expensive compared to others. “We produce a kilogram of cheese from 10 kilograms of goat’s milk. We want to continue our natural cheese production despite all the hardships. We want all our guests to taste our local production.”
Source Daily Sabah