Tenili Cheese

Tenili cheese (Georgian: ტენილი ყველი) is Meskhetian cheese made in Georgia’s Samtskhe-Javakheti and Kvemo Kartli regions from sheep or cow’s milk. The milk used must have a high fat content. Because it is difficult to make it was usually only made for celebrations. The technique for making this type of cheese was nearly lost but has been revived.

Tenili cheese - Copy

Traditional cheesemaker Galina Inasaridze from the village of Andriatsminda in the Akhaltsikhe municipality of Georgia’s Samtskhe-Javakheti region demonstrated how Tenili cheese is made at a cheese festival in Tbilisi.

Galina Inasaridze - Copy

Only sheep or cow’s milk with a high fat content is used to make Tenili.

Cheese used to make Tenili - Copy

Pieces of cheese are added to boiling water to soften it and make it pliable.

Cheese placed in hot water to soften it. - Copy

The pieces of softened cheese are then pressed together.

Removing the cheese from hot water - Copy

The cheese is then repeatedly stretched into thinner and thinner strands.

The cheese is repeatedly stretched - Copy

The stretched strands are dipped into boiling water several times during the stretching process to keep them pliable.

Stretched cheese is dipped in hot water to keep it pliable - Copy

The stretching process is done quickly and continuously.

Cheese is repeatedly stretched into thinner strands - Copy

Once the cheese has been stretched into very fine strands it is immersed in cold, salted water (“Tsatkhi”) and left for at least 15 minutes (some cheese makers leave it for several hours).

The thin strands are soaked in cold salted water for 15 minutes - Copy

The strands are then squeezed to removed excess liquid.

The thin strands are soaked in cold salted water - Copy

The strands of cheese are then hung to dry on a pole.

Hanging the cheese to dry

Drying Tenili Cheese - Copy

The cheese is then placed on a wooden board and left to completely dry. Once dry, the cheese is dipped in heavy cream and pressed by hand into large pots (from which the term “Tenili” comes) and covered with a cloth. After 2-3 days, the cheese is turned inside the pots and pressed again to remove any liquid. After a further 1-3 days the cheese is pressed again and the pots are turned upside down and placed on a layer of ash. The cheese is then stored in a refrigerator or cool place.

tenili cheese_3

Tenili Cheese!

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