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Małopolska Oscypek Route

Małopolska Oscypek Route

formowanie oscypka
Oscypek, the famous smoked sheep’s cheese from the Podhale, Pieniny and the Beskids, once a delicacy served only for special occasions (e.g. highland weddings), today became a specialty appearing on dining tables all over Europe. It is the second Polish regional product registered in the European Union, after bryndza (another kind of sheep’s cheese from the Podhale).

The Oscypek Route, which combines 31 shepherds’ huts (“bacówki”), offers the opportunity to taste fresh products made from sheep’s milk (oscypek, bryndza, bundz, żentyca and redykołek), as well as to learn about the methods of their production. The tradition of oscypek production dates back to the Middle Ages. In the 14th century the Vlachs, who grazed large flocks of sheep, journeyed along the Eastern Carpathians and came to the pastures of the Tatra Mountains and the Beskids. Their original folklore and pasture methods gave rise to the folklore of the highlanders from the Podhale and the Beskids, as well as to the sheep’s cheese production skills. As spring approaches, preferably on the day of St. Wojciech (23 April), “redyk”, the ceremonial herding from villages down to the mountain pastures, begins. The festive blessing of flocks and the shepherds’ church fair are traditionally held on the Sunday closest to 23 April, in the “Gaździna Podhala” sanctuary in Ludźmierz. Afterwards, shepherds collect flocks of sheep from all farmers, and ceremonially set off to the highland pastures. They remain there until autumn, traditionally until the day of St. Michael the Archangel, i.e. 29 September. The sheep graze all day, and in the evening they are milked by the shepherds and their young helpers (“juhas”). The production of oscypek is a long process: the cheese is steamed in hot water, squeezed, and then shaped in a decorative, spindle-like tin. Finally, the cheese is soaked in brine and smoked over the fire under the hut’s roof.

Shepherds’ huts (“bacówki”) on the Oscypek Route:
Kuźnice, Kalatówki, Bacówka pod Reglami, Dolina Chochołowska, Dolina Kościeliska, Bustryk, Baligówka, Turbacz, Czorsztyn, Jaworki, Nowy Targ Lotnisko, Dursztyn, Kowaniec, Leśnica, Gliczarów Górny, Biały Dunajec – Lubelki, Łapsze Wyżne, Łapsze Niżne, Zarymbek Wyżny, Brzegi, Murzasichle, Polana Rusinowa, Wierchomla, Ratułów, Zubrzyca Górna, Konina, Biała Środkowa.

Characteristics of oscypek:
Shape and appearance: spindle-like, cylindrical in the middle, 6-10 cm in diameter, decorated with convex and concave patterns, 2 plain conical parts, may be decorated (stamped) at the ends.
Skin: smooth, elastic; slight roughness, i.e. minor unevenness and cracks that do not reach the inside, minor two-colouring or insufficient colouring is possible
Eye formation: tiny, rare, granular eyes 
Smell and taste: smoky taste and smell, spicy, may be slightly salty
Consistency: elastic pulp, may be slightly soft, slightly hard, slightly salty
Colour: slightly cream-coloured, a little bit darker by the skin, white colour and significant skin darkening is possible 

 

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