Jihočeská niva cheese
The basic raw material used in production of this natural CZO cheese from the Czech Republic containing mould is dairy processed cows' milk. The cheese is made exclusively from milk from the designated area.
- External appearance: The cheese is wheel-shaped, with a diameter of 180-200 mm and a height of approximately 10 cm (weight approximately 2,8 kg); marks of treatment by washing or scraping on the rind, the bluish-green mould growing throughout the cheese and a partly waxy finish on the surface of the cheese are not signs of flaws. The surface of the cheese can be creamy to light brownish in colour.
- Internal appearance: The inside of the cheese is creamy white to buttery in colour with regular green to bluish-green marbling of mould growth in the cheese and recognisable pierce marks.
- Consistency of the cheese: Mild, crumbly, evenly aged; presence of foreign mould not permitted.
- Taste, aroma: Salty, pungent, aromatic, sharp finish, characteristic of cultured Penicillium roqueforti mould.
- Form in which the product is marketed: Besides the above-mentioned wheel shape weighing approximately 2,8 kg, the cheese is also marketed in semi-circular shape (weight approximately 1,2 kg) and as portions weighing 115 g or 220 g.
The geographical area is the South Bohemia region.
Method of production
Dairy processed milk with a fat content of 3,45 % is filled into the cheese-making machine and commonly used cultures, which ensure good acidification of the cheese over the entire production and aging processes, are added. The characteristic taste of Jihočeská Niva is imparted by cultured Penicillium roqueforti mould, which has been used for decades (the culture stock is generally available for use in the food industry). After the rennet has been added and milk curdled, the resulting grains of cheese are put into wheel-shaped forms. Whey is drained off and the micro-flora culture developed at a restricted temperature.
The cheese is salted in two phases: first in a saltwater brine and then by rubbing with large-grain salt. In the past, aging took place only in natural aging cellars that were hollowed out of limestone rock. In 2005, due to the increase in production of this blue cheese, air-conditioned aging cellars equipped with temperature and humidity controls were built. The cheese ages in the cellars for at least four weeks. The surface of the ripened cheese is washed or scraped, and then the cheese is packed in aluminium foil or a special oxygen-permeable wrapper. Part of the production is split into portions and packed in plastic tubs covered with a printed plastic wrapper. The packaging must be intact, clean and properly marked. In view of the biotechnological nature of the product, the blue cheese must be packed directly at the production facility. This is also necessary to maintain product quality, hygiene and cleanliness, to prevent the cheese from being confused with cheese from a different region and, last but not least, to allow better traceability of the product.
Link to the geographical area
Jihočeská Niva blue cheese has been produced at the Český Krumlov plant using the same production method since 1951. The cheese is named after the meadows and pastures of Šumava, where the main ingredient comes from — cows' milk delivered to the Český Krumlov plant from South Bohemia, particularly from the foothills of Šumava. The milk is from one of the least polluted regions. The pastures are located in the protected areas of Novohradské Hory, Blanský les and Šumava, and the area's unique flora has a positive influence on the taste of the milk.
These pastures offer a wide variety of flora specific to the region. Short-stalked plants (nard, fescue, etc.) with high varietal diversity are characteristic alongside certain rare varieties typical of the area. One special endemic plant is Phyteuma nigrum. Other special features include Gentiana pannonica, Ligusticum mutellina, Arnica montana, Gentianella praecox subsp. Bohemica, certain types of terrestrial orchids, etc.
This varied, rugged terrain is characterised by its very clean environment, particularly the Český Krumlov region and foothills of Šumava (Unesco Biosphere Reserve declared in 1990). As proof that the South Bohemian natural environment is highly valuable, a large number of officially protected landscapes have been declared, two of which are protected by Unesco. Of course, local people's experience with producing this blue cheese, handed down from generation to generation, has also had a major influence on the quality and properties of Jihočeská Niva.
Jihočeská Niva blue cheese is very highly appreciated on the Czech market both by the general public and by dairy industry specialists. For many years Jihočeská Niva has ranked among the top cheeses with mould at nationwide cheese exhibitions.
Reference: The European Commission