Arid rock, rocky. The trees are scarce. Winding heights. And if there is no rich nod, it is not possible to produce, the productive animals, plenty of milk. And yet, despite all the adversities, in this blessed place even the wild greens are eaten. The slopes are full, with bushes and thyme bushes. Full, so the milk cans.
The organoleptic properties of the island’s raw material (milk), with comparative advantages of the local climatic specialty, the large variety suitable for grazing-native vegetation, are exceptional and special in this region of the Cyclades and produce milk with identity.
At the same time, and in combination with the good quality of milk, the second factor that ensures the quality of the Kopanisti is none
other than the cheese-making method.
Cheese, means making and therefore making cheese products. In Mykonos we say I curdle the milk or I curdled the milk when we
manufacture cheese products from domesticated milk. The production of the traditional Kopanisti on the island with milk produced from animals bred in it, using the traditional methods and techniques, presents considerable advantages over the quality of the cheese. It is not only the cheese-making process that contributes to the quality and health of the product (cheese) but also the quality of the raw material.
Having obtained a good raw material, we continue curdling the milk. The traditional style of cheese-making has to do with mild milk processing and respect for product maturation. Analytically, in order to make the Kopanisti we have to decide on the ratio – blend, pasteurisation, rennet, salt and maturation. Kopanisti is a cheese that matures with surface moss growth. It is a green-blue mold whose scientific name is Penicillium Glaucoma.
There is no general rule for ripening time since it depends on a variety of factors such as the cheese-making season, the quality of the milk and the percentage of butter contained in the milk. Among other things, coagulation maturation is influenced by the temperature and duration of the squeeze, the type of rennet, the proportion of brine, and the temperature and humidity of the storage area. But where the technological process of the Kopanisti’s production ends, the love for the raw material begins, which meets the respect for quality and the passion to create excellent flavours, while the cheese maker’s experience is decisive in distinguishing the quality of the Kopanisti.
It is therefore clear that cheesemaking in Mykonos seems to harmonise the tradition and the accumulated experience of the past that is transferred from generation to generation, and in combination with the specialised knowledge and technological equipment (Mykonos Farmers), makes high quality cheese products. It also seems that the conditions have matured to start promoting the use of local resources. If the product differentiation is highlighted and the myth that local products are expensive, the cheese industry will become an important factor in local economic activity.