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Cheese Schottenkäse: A Delightful Smoked Cheese from Austria

Schottenkäse is a traditional smoked cheese that has been produced for centuries in the mountainous regions of dairy farms, from Garyons to Mühlviertel. It is a testament to the ingenuity and austerity required for survival throughout many centuries. Despite its appearance, which may resemble a primitive children's toy or a chocolate cake, Schottenkäse is indeed a delicious smoked cheese from Austria. In this article, we will explore the origins, production process, and culinary uses of this unique cheese.

Origins and Name:
Contrary to what one might initially believe, the name "Schottenkäse" does not derive from the German word for the Scottish people (Die Skotten). Instead, it is believed to be a dialectal term describing whey protein (also known as lactoserum protein) heated to 90°C and combined with citric acid or vinegar. Historically, Schottenkäse was a traditional dish of the rural poor, created by combining leftover cheese remnants with butter, whey, and acids.

Production Process:
Today, Monika Voglreiter has revived the Schottenkäse tradition in the Pinzgau region of Salzburg. At her farm near Piesendorf, she practices organic farming and produces Schottenkäse using raw milk from her own cows. The milk is coagulated with vinegar, resulting in curds which are then cut, crushed, and mixed with salt, herbs, and spices. The mixture is then hand-shaped into the typical conical form and smoked for 10 days in a specialized smoke chamber. The final product is firm, dry, and does not require refrigeration. This entire process gives the Schottenkäse its distinct flavor, golden-brown color, and hardness, making it perfect for grating.

Culinary Uses:
Schottenkäse, with its unique smoky flavor, is a versatile cheese that can be used in various culinary preparations. It is often grated and used as a topping or crust for lamb or game dishes. Thin slices of Schottenkäse can be incorporated into salads, adding a savory punch to the greens. For a simple and delicious snack, fresh-baked bread can be served with butter and onions, topped with grated Schottenkäse. Additionally, Schottenkäse can be used as a substitute for parmesan in pasta dishes, enhancing their flavors. Pairing Schottenkäse with a local red wine completes the culinary experience.

Monika Voglreiter produces approximately 250 cones of Schottenkäse per week, distributing them through her farm, selected supermarkets in the region, and directly to the restaurant industry. In rural restaurants, Schottenkäse is often featured in the famous "Schotsuppe" (loosely translated as "Scotch soup"). This grated cheese is truly a hidden gem, perfect for adding a smoky flavor to various dishes.

The revival of Schottenkäse by Monika Voglreiter showcases the rich culinary traditions of Austria. This unique smoked cheese, with its distinctive flavors and textures, has found a place in the gastronomy of the country. Whether grated, sliced, or used as a topping, Schottenkäse adds a delightful smoky dimension to dishes. So, the next time you crave a unique cheese experience, don't forget to try the Schottenkäse!

✓ Austria