Ġbejna

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Selection of fresh and cured Ġbejniet

Ġbejna (plural ġbejniet) is a small round cheese made in Malta (commonly associated with the island of Gozo [1]) from sheep's milk, salt and rennet. Most sheep's milk produced in Malta are used for the production of these small cheeses.

Until the early 20th century, ġbejniet made from unpasteurised milk were one of the causes of the spread of Brucellosis which was so prevalent as to be called "the Maltese fever".

Prior to Malta's accession to the European Union, the EU accepted Malta's request to protect the ġbejna along with the traditional variant of ricotta.[2]

Preparation and Varieties[edit]

Ġbejna is shaped in a cheese hurdle made of dried reeds, although now plastic ones are also used. They are traditionally dried in small ventilated rooms, with windows protected by a special mesh mosquito net. It is said that in the past sea water, rather than rennet, was used as a curdling agent.

Ġbejniet are prepared and served in a variety of forms: fresh (friski or tal-ilma), sundried (moxxa, bajda or t'Għawdex), salt cured (maħsula) or peppered (tal-bżar). The fresh variety have a smooth texture and a milky flavour and are kept in their own whey in a similar manner to mozzarella. The sundried variety have a more definite, nutty almost musky taste, and are fairly hard. The peppered variety are covered in crushed black pepper and cured, after which they may be stored in oil or pickled in vinegar. Their sharp taste becomes more piquant the more they age and they also develop a crumbly texture.

In Maltese cuisine[edit]

Ġbejna is an important element in a number of dishes such as soppa tal-armla. It is often added to pasta dishes or soup to enhance flavour,[3] as a pizza topping or the filling for ħobż biż-żejt.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://aboutmalta.com/gozo/folklore3.html
  2. ^ The safety of agricultural food
  3. ^ Anton F. Attard, "Gozo's Traditional Crafts & Delicacies"

Categories[edit]