ORDU, Turkey (AA): Demand has increased in recent years for Mesudiye gilik cheese, which is created by aging it 50 meters (164.04 feet) inside a cave in the Mesudiye district of Ordu in Turkey’s Black Sea region for three to six months. The cheese is just one of the multitude of tasty Turkish cheeses.
Created from the milk of bovine animals fed on the plateaus of the district at an altitude of 1,700 meters, it is processed in the workshop set up by the Mesudiye Municipality and then pressed into earthenware cubes of various sizes.
The cubes are then brought to a local cave, which is about 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) from the district’s center, by teams of cheese producers and left in sections at about 50 meters deep inside a cave.
The cheese is kept in the cave for three to six months and then put up for sale after it reaches sufficient maturity. Mesudiye Municipality has started the process of registering the local cheese and obtaining geographical indication.
After learning about its production process, many fans are often tempted to refer to this particular type of cheese as “cave cheese.”
‘Being stored in a cave adds flavor’
Mesudiye Mayor Isa Gül told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they have increased the production of gilik cheese, which is unique to the district, with their efforts and investments in recent years.
Explaining that leaving this type of cheese in the cave dates back to ancient times, Gül said: “Our ancestors and grandfathers especially used the soil and caves due to the lack of adequate cooling back then. Thus, they both added flavor to this cheese and ensured its longevity.”
Emphasizing that they, as the municipality, continued the same method in modern times, Gül explained: “We also continue to produce our local gilik cheese, which we obtain from the milk of our animals fed with thyme grass grown in the highlands.”
Gül pointed out that they have provided employment for locals at the facility they established about three years ago. “The cheese produced in this facility is pressed into earthenware cubes. Then we put this cheese in the cave for a minimum of three, a maximum of six months. Having the cheese stored in the cave adds a special flavor to the taste of the cheese that we offer to the citizens.”
Some 50 tons of cheese annually
Gül stated that they sell the cheese, together with its earthenware cube, after it reaches the desired consistency in the cave conditions, at various retail points for between TL 50 to TL 60 ($3.72 to $4.47).
Stating that approximately 50 tons of gilik cheese are produced at the facility annually, Gül underlined that the interest in the cheese is increasing every year and therefore they want to increase their production even more.
Gül reiterated that they aim for the cheese to be recognized as unique worldwide. “We are continuing our applications on this matter. We believe that we will also get results on this in the near future,” he said.