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Cheese making monastery way


The dairy at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery makes cheese to Italian recipes.

The cheese dairy at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery processes up to 500 liters of milk daily. Monks and novices make ricotta, mozzarella, and gouda. Saint-Petersburg TV Channel reporter Dmitry Kopytov visited the dairy during Shrovetide.

Everything is done by hand, including mixing fresh milk in a large tub and turning rounds of cheese. 

‘Sometimes rounds get broken. Now we are turning young cheese rounds. If you do it slowly, a round can break inside and it will be difficult to get it out of the mold’, Monk David, assistant to the monastery’s head cheesemaker, explains.

The cheese made in the monastery contains no preservatives, colourants or artificial floavours, only milk and ferment. Several sorts are produces, including Italian specialties like ricotta, crescenza, asiago, and even mozzarella. There are also experimental recipes, like caciotta with pistachios. 

‘Monks work everywhere in the world. Some bake bread, in Belgium they brew beer. We make cheese. We were taught to make cheese and we have learned to do it. And, which is most important, we can do it well. A product that you make with your hands will always taste different from mass produced products. Here you are responsible for the entire process,’ Konstantin Tsarev, head cheesemaker of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery cheese dairy, explains.

It takes two months for chees to mature in a special room. Every day, cheese rounds are turned. 

Most of the cheese produced is served in the monastery refectory, the rest is sold in the local shop. Soon, a tasting room is to be opened. 

Photo and video: St. Petersburg TV channel