Ġbejna (plural ġbejniet) is a small round cheese made in Malta (commonly associated with the island of Gozo ) from sheep's milk, salt and rennet. Most sheep's milk produced in Malta are used for the production of these small cheeses.
Preparation and Varieties
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
- The safety of agricultural food
- Anton F. Attard, "Gozo's Traditional Crafts & Delicacies"
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