Turkey produces many varieties of cheese, mostly from sheep’s milk. In general, these cheeses are not long matured, with comparatively low-fat content.
The production of many kinds of cheese is local to particular regions. By the tent;
- Beyaz peynir is a salty brined cheese taking its name from its white color (“white cheese”). It is similar to feta but not as strong. This is produced in styles ranging from unmatured cheese curds to a quite strong mature version. It has many varieties due to source of milk, region (Ezine or Thrace) and production methods (classic or cultured). It is eaten plain (e.g. as part of the traditional Turkish breakfast), used in salads, and incorporated into cooked foods such as börek and pide.
- Çerkez peyniri, means “Circassian cheese”. It has two variations, smoked or non-smoked.
- Çökelek is dried cottage cheese. There are many regional varieties of çökelek. Some are eaten fresh while others are preserved, either by storage in goatskin bags or pottery jars or by drying in the sun.
- Kurut and keş are regional names for dried bricks of yogurt made from low-fat milk or from çökelek made from buttermilk.
- Gravyer Kassari (analogous to Swiss gruyere) is produced in Turkey as well. Among others, Kars is famous for its graviera.
- Hellim is salty, firm-textured goat cheese, generally with some mint added, made in Northern Cyprus. In Turkey, it is common to fry hellim in a pan in some olive oil.
- Kaşar is Turkey’s other ubiquitous cheese, a moderately fatty sheep’s cheese similar to the Greek kasseri, sometimes marketed as “Turkish cheddar”, being closer in consistency and taste to mild cheddar-style cheese than other Turkish cheeses. Less matured kaşar, called fresh kaşar, is widely consumed as well. Two varieties are popular Kars and Thrace.
- Kaşkaval is a wheel-shaped yellow sheep’s cheese, similar to fresh kaşar. The name comes from Romanian word cașcaval, which bears the Italian structure of caciocavallo.
- Lor is the other type of unsalted whey cheese, similarly made from the whey leftover from kaşar or strained yogurt manufacture. Lor is used in traditional foods and desserts made from unsalted cheese-like “ekşimik” and höşmerim
- Mihaliç peyniri or Kelle peyniri is a hard sheep’s cheese that can be grated, like Parmesan cheese. Sometimes goat or cow milk is used. It is a specialty from Karacabey, a town in Bursa province which was called Mihaliç during Byzantine and Ottoman period. Mostly it is produced from non-pasteurized milk and processed by salt.
- Örgü peyniri, “braided cheese”, is a specialty from Diyarbakır.
- Otlu peynirVan herbed cheese (“herbed cheese”) is produced in many areas, chiefly in East Anatolia. Traditionally sheep’s or goat’s milk is used, but more recently cow’s milk otlu peynir has been produced. The type of herb used varies by region: in Van wild garlic is traditional; Bitlis otlu peynir contains a damp-loving herb known as sof otu. In other areas horse mint (Mentha longifolia) and Pimpinella rhodentha are used.
- Tulum is a mostly sheep’s curd molded in an animal skin bag called tulum. There are regional varieties of tulum peynir in such areas as İzmir, Ödemiş, and Erzincan. And each of tulum cheese has very different characteristics.