Sulguni (Georgian: სულგუნი, სულუგუნი sulguni, suluguni; Mingrelian: სელეგინ selegin) is a brined Georgian cheese from the Samegrelo region. It has a sour, moderately salty flavor, a dimpled texture, and an elastic consistency; these attributes are the result of the process used, as is the source of its moniker "pickle cheese". Its color ranges from white to pale yellow. Sulguni is often deep-fried, which masks its odor. It is often served in wedges.
A typical sulguni cheese is shaped as a flat disc, 2.5 to 3.5 centimeters thick. It weighs 0.5 to 1.5 kg (1.1 to 3.3 lb) and contains 50% water and between 1% and 5% salt. Dry fat content averages 45%. Sulguni is produced only of natural ingredients: normalized cow milk by clotting by rennet with pure cultures of lactic bacteria.
The name is etymologized as Mingrelian: სელეგინ IPA: selegin.
There is a false version, that the word "sulguni" is etymologized as Ossetic (Digor dialect) «сулугун» ("sulugun") adding Georgian nominative formant "i", where sulu means Whey, and formant -gun means "made of". However, this version does not explain real etymology, as initially cheese was produced in Samegrelo region of Georgia in the western Georgia Sulguni, which doesn't border to other regions of Georgia where partially Ossetian language is used. At the same time, initially in Megrelian language the name sounds as "selegin" ("sele" - verb. "to knead", "gin" - cattle family (buffalos, cows) whose milk is used to produce the cheese). Kneading of the primary cheese is the key stage of the final cheese production process. Thus, all these excludes etymologization on the basis of "sulu" (osset.). It is assumed that "selegin" was transformed into "suluguni" as a result of migration of the name into Georgian and to Eastern and other regions of Georgia.
A folk etymology posits that the name sulguni comes from two Georgian words - suli (which means "soul") and guli (which means "heart").
According to the 1970s sources, sulguni accounted for around 27% of cheese production in Georgia. It was the third most popular pickled cheese of the Soviet Union, with 16.5% share in 1987 (after bryndza and Ossetian cheese).
Sulguni may be produced from normalized milk of cow, buffalo, or a mix of these milks. It is a "quick cheese" maturing in just one or two days. The mix of normalized milk and bacterial starter is scalded at 36-38 °C or, alternatively, renneted without scalding. It is then cheddared in whey at 34-35 °C for up to five hours, reaching titratable acidity of 140-160°T.
The cheddared mass is then diced into pieces 1 to 3 centimeters long. They are heated to 60-80 °C in a rotating mixer, either directly or with added whey or brine. Plasticizing of raw mass takes five to seven minutes. Direct dry plasticizing yields fatter, drier cheese with superior taste. Plasticized cheese mass is then cooled and drained of whey, and shaped by hand. Shaped cheeses are cured in cold (8-12 °C), mildly acidic brine for 6 to 48 hours.
For a long time, sulguni rennet cheese was only produced by local Georgian farmers, but in 2012 the Georgian dairy company "LTD Sante GMT products" started producing packaged "sulguni" cheese. They are utilizing a fully automated production process, with minimized manual operations.
- Gudkov, p. 296.
- http://www.100best.ru/Catalogue-English/Products/249818/ "Rennet briny cheese "Sulguni"
- V. I. Abaev. Историко-этимологический словарь осетинского языка. V. III. P.197. Syly|sulu — свежая молочная сыворотка, остающаяся после створаживания молока. <…> Несомненным заимствованием из дигорского sulugun является мегр., груз. suluguni, sulguni…
- Gudkov, p. 298, citing 1974 and 1975 sources.
- Gudkov, p. 295.
- Gudkov, p. 298.
- Jones, Evan (1984). The World of Cheese.
- Gudkov, A. V. (1999). Cheeses of the former USSR, in: Fox, Patrick P. (1999). Cheese: Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology: Major Cheese Groups, volume 2. Springer. ISBN 0-8342-1339-7, ISBN 978-0-8342-1339-5.