Ġbejna is a small round cheese made in Malta from sheep milk, salt and rennet. Most sheep’s milk produced in Malta are used for the production of these small cheeses.
Milk in Malta was traditionally sold by milking goats on the streets and sold immediately as is.
Preparation and varieties of Ġbejna
Ġbejna is shaped in a cheese hurdle made of dried reeds, although now plastic ones are also used. They are traditionally dried in small ventilated rooms, with windows protected by a special mesh mosquito net. It is said that in the past sea water, rather than rennet, was used as a curdling agent. The cheese is available both from pasteurised and unpasteurised milk.
Ġbejniet are prepared and served in a variety of forms: fresh, sundried, salt cured or peppered. The fresh variety has a smooth texture and a milky flavour and is kept in their own whey in a similar manner to mozzarella. The sundried variety has a more definite, nutty almost musky taste, and is fairly hard. The peppered variety is covered in crushed black pepper and cured, after which they may be stored in oil or pickled in vinegar. Their sharp taste becomes more piquant the more they age and they also develop a crumbly texture.
Recipe of Gbejniet
Video Credit: Smokin Vilo
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