Pule cheese has a very interesting story and most people have never heard of it before.
Pule cheese is made from donkey milk. It is very rare and generally not commercially available apart from some high end restaurants.
I thought I would post about pule cheese for those who are curious about lesser known fermented foods, or those who like to explore and search for unique food experiences on their travels.
What is Pule Cheese?
Pule cheese is made in Serbia and prepared from the milk of Balkan donkeys. It is white and crumbly like feta while being similar to yet richer than Manchego.
Pule cheese is produced at a donkey farm in Zasavica, called Zasavica donkey reserve, which is about 80 kilometers from Belgrade. This cheese is produced by hand-milking a herd of just 100 of Balkan donkeys, which are an endangered species today.
By selling the Pule cheese at $1700 per kilogram, the Zasavica donkey reserve aims to sponsor the conservation of this species to prevent it from getting extinct. This is just one of the reasons that makes Pule cheese so expensive.
Why is pule cheese expensive?
It takes almost 25 liters of Donkey’s milk to produce one kilogram of white and crumbly smoked Pule cheese.
Jenny (female donkey) can give only 0.2 litres of milk. Since there are no milking machines that fit donkeys, all the milking (three times a day) has to be done by hand.
The donkeys milked for Pule cheese live on the farm of the Zasavica Special Nature Reserve the owner of which, Slobodan Simić, is the only producer of this form of cheese across the world.
The rarity of the source of dairy for this cheese and the larger amount of milk required for preparing it are the reasons that make Pule cheese so expensive.
Apart from the donkey milk, there are no other ingredients that go into making Pule cheese.
Pule cheese is low in milk fat of just one percent.
Another interesting fact is donkey milk contains 60 times more Vitamin C than cow milk.
Benefits of donkey milk
We all know that dairy offers the best sources of several essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin E, healthy fats, proteins, and calcium. That is why milk is considered wholesome food.
Naturally, the cheese prepared from milk also contains a higher amount of nutrients. Healthy fats and proteins in cheese are known to support health and enhance healing and repair functions of the body.
If you have to choose one cheese among all for maximizing these benefits, then it’s the Pule cheese. It is found that donkey’s milk is nearly 60% more nutritious than goat or cow milk. It offers a rich source of vitamins, making it one of the best foods to consume to support healing when you are suffering from any acute or chronic disorder.
Trans fats vs unsaturated fats
The donkey’s milk is characterized by a low-fat content thus being seen as effective at controlling cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
Donkey milk has been found to have a lower percentage of unhealthy saturated fats while offering a higher percentage of healthy fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.
The polyunsaturated fatty acids are in the forms of α-linolenic acid and linoleic acid. Both these forms of fatty acids possess medicinal properties that can help to reduce cholesterol levels and prevent plaque formation in the blood vessels.
Donkey’s milk contains anti-allergens, which can protect you against the recurring attacks of allergic diseases like asthma, dermatitis, and bronchitis. Consumption of donkey milk might improve body’s immune response to allergens and thus, help people avoid breathlessness, cough, skin rashes, nose block, and other symptoms caused due to allergies.
Our body is exposed to several toxins at every step. These toxins are present in the air we breathe in the form of pollutants, and the food we eat in the form of additives and preservatives.
Donkey milk possesses a higher amount of vitamin C that acts as an antioxidant and might prevent the damage to body organs and tissues. This effect of vitamin C could be beneficial for reducing the risk of autoimmune diseases like SLE.
I hope that the efforts of increasing the number of Balkan donkeys work. Pule cheese is an interesting product and seems to have a lot of benefits.
I have never tried it, but if it catches on in the future and becomes more widely available, it’s definitely something that I would like to do.