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Van Otlu Peynir (Van herbed cheese) is a special type of cheese originating from the Lake Van area. It is made from sheep’s milk with addition of herbs. About 25 different weeds can be used for production of this cheese. The main ones are: sirmo, mendi, heliz, wild mint and thyme. Otlu Peynir can include one of them individually or mixed with others.
The herbed cheese have been manufactured for more then 250 years in the area of the present Bitlis and Van provinces of Turkey. The most popular varieties of this cheese are produced in Kurdish villages and small dairies near Lake Van. But at the present time Otlu Peynir is produced in many other places in the eastern part of Turkey.
The exquisite taste of the local sheep’s milk is obtained from the grass growing on the mountains near Lake Van. The milk is passed through various processes before the cheese is fixed. These processes are the accumulations of centuries. The herbed cheese, which is fixed in consistency, is salted and filled with soil cubes.
Otlu Peynir buried in the soil become ready to be consumed after 3 to 7 months. Herbs using for this cheese contain carotene and vitamin C. Some of them have been also identified by scientists as having antimicrobial properties. When you eat Otlu Peynir the level of digestion is rising and the microorganisms harmful to the human health become ineffective.