Sõir, the curd cheese

Since June 2021, Sõir - the curd cheese, is a product protected by a geographical indication of European Union.

Sõir is Setomaa’s signature food. It is not something you eat every day, though – it is a party food. Sõir can be found on any Seto festive table.

Put simply, sõir is a fresh pressed curd cheese. Sõir making starts with scalding milk. Light curds are added to hot milk and heated until the whey separates. The solids are then placed in a strainer. Let drip for 30 minutes or manually press and squeeze the solids. Meanwhile, melt some butter in a saucepan, and add the drained curds and beaten eggs with a pinch of salt. Add more salt if needed, and caraway seeds if desired. Stir the mixture until it reaches an even consistency. Pour it in a mould to cool.

Another way to make sõir starts also by bringing milk to the boil; meanwhile blend light curds with eggs and caraway seeds. Once the milk has reached the boil, pour the curd and egg mixture into the milk and heat until the light-yellow whey separates. Turn the solids out on to cheesecloth lined sieve to drain. Once the sõir has drained, rub it with salt and leave it in the cheesecloth for 24 hours to absorb the salt. Refrigerate the sõir. It will keep for a couple weeks.

Sõir is a standalone dish: an appetizer, a last course, or just as an hors d’oeuvre on a smorgasbord. Butter, honey or garlic sauce can be spread on sõir.