|Country of origin||Canada|
|Region, town||Laurentians (Laurentides in French), Oka|
|Source of milk||Cow|
|Aging time||1-2 months|
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Oka is a semi-soft washed rind cheese that was originally manufactured by Trappist monks located in Oka, Quebec, Canada. The cheese is named after the town. It has a distinct flavour and aroma, and is still manufactured in Oka, although now by a commercial company. The rights were sold in 1996 by Les Pères Trappistes to the Agropur cooperative. It is also manufactured in Holland, Manitoba, by Trappist Monks at the Our Lady of the Prairies Monastery, which is located 8 miles southeast of Holland.
The origins of this cheese dates back to the 17th century. Born in a monastery in Yugoslavia, it became famous in France in the Monastery of the Port-du-Salut. It then arrived at the Notre-Dame du Lac Monastery in Quebec around year 1890 and took a new rise as the "Oka Cheese" in 1893. Since that time, Quebec has become a major producer of Canadian Cheese. Oka cheese has a pungent aroma and soft creamy flavour, sometimes described as nutty and fruity. The cheese, which is made from cow's milk, is covered with a copper-orange, hand-washed rind. Its distinct flavour sets it apart from more common cheeses such as colby and cheddar, and does not go through a cheddaring process.
There are four types of Oka cheese, regular, classic, light and providence. 'Regular' Oka can be made from both pasteurised and raw cow's milk. It is a pressed, semi-soft cheese that is surface ripened for some 35 days. The 'Classic' is ripened for an additional month. Aging is done in refrigerated aging cellars. The cheese rounds are placed on cypress slats and the cheeses are periodically turned and hand washed in a weak brine solution. 'Providence' Oka is of a much more creamy and soft texture then either 'Classic' or 'Regular', while 'Light' is similar to 'Regular', but with a lower percentage of fat.
Oka cheese was heavily influenced by the work of the monks of the Cistercian Abbey of Notre-Dame du Lac (fr. Abbaye Cistercienne d'Oka). Within a few years, through an affiliation with the Université de Montréal, the monastery created an agricultural school. Frequently called the Abbaye Notre-Dame-du-Lac, the Trappist monastery became well known for its Port-Salut cheese, made from a Breton recipe brought with them from France.
- http://www.911cheferic.net/Cheeses/oka-cheese.html, accessed Aug 22, 2009[dead link]