New lo­cal cheese brand aims to re-dis­cover Malta’s cheese mak­ing past

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - BUSINESS & FINANCE -

“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.

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