New local cheese brand aims to re-discover Malta’s cheese making past
“Tan-nar” is a new local cheese brand which has just been introduced to the market by Farm Fresh Ltd, a Magro Brothers company.
Using time-tested methodologies acquired from the recipe books of our forefathers combined with the latest technology and best-practice standards in dairy production, Farm Fresh Ltd aims to re-introduce this once greatly-loved cheese back into the Maltese market.
Tan-Nar is a cheese that is based on a production process that existed commonly throughout the Maltese islands for hundreds of years up till the turn of the twentieth century. Many towns used to have their very own “Mahzen tan-nar”, which would specialize in crafted cheese production through heat processes. In those days, households did not have electricity or gas supply and cooking was carried out over stone stoves filled with wood, or coal in the case of wealthier families. Either way, fueling a largescale open flame was a laborious task!
When herdsmen had excess milk, they took the fresh milk to these warehouses to turn it into cheese, which could be kept for longer periods of time. Tan-Nar cheese was made from a combination of two or three sources of milk, depending on the composition of the flock. The technique to make the cheese was a delicate process with each Mahzen’s master craftsman having their own secret recipe and craft technique. This created a very competitive market among the craftsmen and herdsmen – all contesting for the best tasting cheese on the island!
Under British rule, all trade dealing with fresh milk became illegal in a bid to curb the spread of undulant fever “denirqiq”. This brought about the immediate closure of all cheese warehouses and quickly wiped out most of the cheese making culture that had developed so profusely over the years.
With the introduction of TanNar brand, Farm Fresh intends to reignite the passion for local cheese making and pick up where our ancestors left off. They still follow the same traditional recipes and craftmethods whilst using modern technology to guarantee food safety to the end consumer. The current lineup consists of 4 traditionally-inspired flavours; plain, peppered, cumin and fennel.The product will be hitting supermarket shelves in the coming weeks.