cheese food gastronomy dairy
Photo: by Norbert Mészáros

When we think about Hungarian gastronomy, cheese might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Wine, sure, paprika, sure, lángos, absolutely, but cheese? Well, as it turns out, there is much potential in the Hungarian cheese-making industry, and there are award-winning Hungarian cheeses out there. Let’s see three of them.

Even though Hungarians consume about half the amount of cheese as the French do, we still love this particular dairy product. If you go into any supermarket in Hungary, you will see a pretty wide selection of all kinds of cheeses. However, most of those cheese are not Hungarian, and even most of the Hungarian ones are usually just the rip-off versions of popular foreign cheese types.

A little bit of history

In Hungary, cheese making as we know it today started in the 18th century. However, Hungarians have been making cheese way before that. An early form of cheese making was already present in Hungary as early as the 13th century, and we mainly used sheep milk for the production. By the end of the 18th century, there were many dairy farms in Hungary that produced and processed milk on a regular basis. At first, the cheese was made from raw milk only, resulting in a puffy cheese with lots of holes. The maturing technology arrived later, which resulted in the introduction of many new cheese types.

In 2018, Hungarian quality cheese making is on the rise. In the summer of 2017, three Hungarian kinds of cheese were chosen to be amongst the best cheeses in the world at the world’s most prestigious cheese competition: Mondial du Fromage held in France. In the hard cheese category, the first and the second were both Hungarian cheeses: Ranolder and Pater. The cheese called Panarella finished third in the semi-hard category. We review these three important Hungarian kinds of cheese in the rest of the article.

1. Ranolder

cheese food gastronomy
Photo: by Norbert Mészáros

This particular cheese was named after János Ranolder Bishop of Veszprém, who helped to boost the area’s agriculture, especially the viticulture and winemaking. The ingredients that Ranolder is made of are all locally produced.

The cheese’s special aroma is due to the very high quality milk, bacterial flora and the long maturation process.

This cheese does have an extraordinary flavour and aroma, after all, it won first place in the hard cheese category at Mondial du Fromage, where it had, amongst others, French and Italian competitors. Ranolder is an artisanal, full-fat matured hard cheese that has a light ochre colour.

Ranolder is produced by the Sümegtej dairy that has been in business since 1993. The same dairy produces the next cheese as well.

2. Panarella

cheese food gastronomy
Photo: by Norbert Mészáros

Panarella is an Italian style cheese produced by Sümegtej dairy. It is a semi-hard cheese with a short maturation process (only 6 weeks). The dairy only introduced this product in the spring of 2017, a few months later it already won third place in the semi-hard category at Mondial du Fromage. The Panarella cheese gets its special taste from the white moulds on its wrinkled rind and its creamy texture from the unique bacterial flora and curing process. The cheese has a sweet taste to it.

3. Páter

Magyaralmási Agrár Ltd produces Páter. The dairy was established in 2014. Páter is made by using instructions from the 19th century. Páter is a full-fat, semi-hard cheese with holes.

cheese food gastronomy

The cheese goes through a long ripening process (6-18 months) placed on top of pine boards. The cheese has a straw-yellow colour, it is easy to cut, flexible and it melts in the mouth. This particular cheese fits well into the Hungarian gastronomy; it goes well with meats or vegetarian dishes, it is ideal to fry and good in sandwiches.

Featured image: by Norbert Mészáros


1 comment
  1. Mom used to make a sweet cheese around Easter I believe. I don’t know the name of it, unfortunately. It had raisins and a hint of cinnamon. I believe it was traditional from the upper east provinces of Traditional Hungary (Zemplen, Ung provinces)

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