Where do they make the world’s hardest cheese that doesn’t go bad for years?

Posted on Apr 2, 2022      36

Chhurpi cheese is a unique product from the Himalayas and Eastern Tibet. The locals claim that properly prepared chhurpi can be eaten after 20 years.

This dry smoked cheese, considered the hardest in the world, was invented thousands of years ago by cattle breeders. Chhurpi is made from the milk of yaks and chowri (a hybrid of yak and cow). The animals graze at the altitude of 3500-4000 meters where special grass called “buggy” grows. It makes the milk of the chowri thick, fragrant and tasty.

Chhurpi, made according to ancient recipes, is rich in protein. It has a smoky flavor. The longer the cheese is chewed, the more it softens.

It is a favorite snack among the people of eastern India and much of Nepal and Bhutan. In these areas, people often chew small cubes for hours, like chewing gum.

Animal husbandry has been a mainstay of many Himalayan communities for centuries. According to Mukta Singh Lama Tamang, an anthropologist at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, dairy products have been an integral part of Himalayan culture for a long history. The anthropologist said that chhurpi cheese was invented thousands of years ago because of the need to quick use surplus milk that could no longer be consumed or sold.

One of the unique features of chhurpi is its very low moisture content. This makes the cheese very hard to crack. But this allows it to remain edible for months or even years.

How is chhurpi made?

First, the chowry milk is left to stand to remove the cream. Then the skimmed milk is thoroughly boiled and mixed with whey, citric acid, or other fermenting products. The curd is formed almost instantly. The solid mass is separated from the whey and placed in cotton or jute bags, which are beaten and placed under a stone press for 24 hours.

The hard blocks of cheese are left to ferment for a few days. And then cut into rectangles, which are dried in the shade and smoked over a fire. As a result, the churpi gains its unique flavor and texture.

After fermentation for 6-12 months, proper drying, and proper storage, shepherds in the remote highlands could eat this cheese for a long time. As well as transporting it to other areas and selling it in markets.

Soft chhurpi, which has not yet been smoked, is often used in a variety of dishes, including pickling with cucumber and radishes.

A properly dried chhurpi remains edible for up to 20 years.