Pule, the world’s most expensive cheese made from… donkeys?

Pule cheese from Serbia

If I asked you to name the most expensive cheese and, for bonus points, what animal it comes from, I doubt you’d guess either without prior knowledge of caseiculture.

But as the title reveals, the world’s most expensive cheese comes from donkeys – Balkan donkeys to be exact. The cheese is called pule and it’s hard to buy (you can try the Zasavica natural reserve in Serbia if you’re really desperate).

According to cheese.com, a pound of pule costs approximately $576 a pound (about £426). But why is it so expensive? Scarcity. Donkey milk is very rare and difficult to produce. A female donkey (known as a jenny) only makes around 3 pints of milk a day, which is about 25-30 times less than a cow. There are also fewer solids in donkey milk compared to cow’s milk so more is needed to make the same amount of hard cheese. Then you have to factor in labour costs as machines aren’t cost effective for such a small enterprise. It’s just 100 endangered Balkan donkeys and a few milkers. You also have to order the cheese in advance before it’s made to reduce waste which makes sense.

You may be wondering what you’re getting for cheese worth so much. Well, don’t expect culinary nirvana (unless you like manchego). The cheese is white and crumbly and packs a strong flavour similar to the La Mancha cheese. It’s nutritional value also shares similarities with another type of milk billions of babies enjoy every day: human breast milk. While that is far from obscure, I wouldn’t recommend making cheese from it.

The good news is exports to the UK, Germany and the rest of the world are expected soon but you may have heard in the news a few years ago that Serbia’s own Novak Djokovic bought the world’s entire supply in 2012. I wonder if he had to “pule” some strings to arrange that. *ahem* Sorry, that was too cheesy, even for me.

(via Gastro Obscura)

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