The charm of shepherds
Years ago, the landscape of the Tatra Mountains was decorated with hundreds of shepherd’s huts, huts and barracks. Buildings made of wood, stone and rocks, typical of the shepherd profession, beautifully blended in with the Podhale nature. These places began to teem with life in the spring, when flocks of sheep led by shepherds appeared in the mountains.
Shelter for shepherds and... robbers
Shepherd’s huts stood on mountain ridges near gurgling streams. On the northern side of the huts, i.e. in the coolest place, there were cheese factories where oscypek, bundz and Żętyce were stored. Wooden buildings gave shelter to shepherds, and after the season, from late autumn to spring, they were a quiet refuge for stray tourists, smugglers and even robbers!
Arriving in Podhale, it is worth staying for a longer time at the existing shepherd’s huts. To feel this amazing atmosphere, imagine mountains filled with the sounds of bells, sheep bleating and juhas calling.
Currently, shepherd’s huts are located in shepherd’s pastures, mainly in the area of Podhale, Tatras, Spisz, Orawa, as well as in the Pieniny Mountains, where shepherds graze not only their own sheep, but also those from friendly hosts.
Shepherding is mainly done by people to whom the secrets of sheep grazing are passed down from generation to generation. Thanks to this, shepherding customs are part of the cultural landscape of this most beautiful region in Poland.
Oscypek will give connoisseurs
It is in these places that the most recognizable highland sheep’s cheese, oscypek, is made. The Podhale delicacy is hard, “pucony”, i.e. kneaded by hand according to old instructions during the summer sheep grazing period, from May to September. This highland delicacy has an archaic shape of a spindle, light golden and shiny skin and a distinctive smoked and slightly salty taste.
Oscypek cheese is a tradition that dates back to the 15th century. In 2006, oscypek was entered into the European category of products and marked with the “Protected Designation of Origin”. Since then, it has been protected by EU law. This is the only true product with a taste and color that it acquires while aging in the smoke of the hearth, on poles placed under the very roof of the shepherd’s hut.
Without a doubt, you will eat the tastiest oscypek cheese in Podhale. How to get to know a real highland delicacy from a shepherd and not cut yourself on a fake? Some argue that real oscypek creaks when biting, or is that all – not necessarily! If you want to learn all the secrets related to the production of oscypek and see how it tastes, be sure to visit our shepherd’s hut.