Firm cheese made from yak's milk

February 27, 2002|By Carolyn Jung | Carolyn Jung,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

Had your fill of goat's, sheep's and cow's milk cheeses?

Get your appetite ready for yak's milk cheese.

In Tibet, where no cheese-making tradition existed previously, this all-natural, organic cheese is being made to help improve an ancient way of life.

The sweet, delicate, herbal-tasting cheese is made from the rich milk of those shaggy-haired, big-horned, buffalo-sized animals that roam the plateau at 14,000 feet above sea level.

New York's Trace Foundation, which works with Tibetans in China, has joined with Jonathan White, a former cheese maker at New York's Egg Farm Dairy, to teach the nomads how to turn milk into cheese and cheese into added income.

The firm cheese, named Ragya Metok (flower of Ragya in Tibetan), is made from yak's milk that is heated and ripened in big copper vats, curdled, then drained and molded into 15-pound wheels. The cheese is dry-cured in a coating of Tibetan red salt.

The cheese was featured in January at the 27th Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, where producers showed off their wares to chefs and prospective retailers.

The first shipment of yak's milk cheese was imported into the United States last month. Limited supplies are selling for $25 per pound at www.cowsoutside.com, the Grasslands Cheese Consortium's Web site.

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