Jāņu siers

siers Image from here

Classic fare for the Summer Solstice, Jāņu siers is a soft, mild, creamy cheese that is speckled with caraway seeds, giving it a bit of a bitter, aromatic bite. When celebrating Jāņi, everyone present is offered a bite of cheese and a mug of beer by the host, and so it is important to know just how to make this Latvian appy. Everyone has their own recipe and everyone claims that theirs is the best, but this is the one that I have been trying to perfect. Original recipe from the Lett’s Cook and Bake Latvian Cookbook (slightly tweaked of course).



1 quart whole milk

1 quart buttermilk

2 lbs small curd cottage cheese

1/2 cup dry curd cottage cheese

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 TBSP butter

2 TBSP caraway seeds

1 tsp salt

Instructions: In a large pot, mix the first four ingredients and heat on low without stirring until small bubbles begin to form around the edge and the curds have congealed into a semi-solid mass that pulls away from the whey. Do NOT bring to a boil. This process takes about 45 minutes.

Pour the semi-solid mass into a moistened, cheesecloth lined colander. Let it drain for about 30 minutes, then twist the corners of the cheesecloth and twist together to form a ball. Let drain overnight.


The next morning, place the well drained curds into a 2-quart saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients and stir constantly over low heat until the mixture forms a smooth, satiny ball. Stir it vigorously to break up the curds and ensure a smooth consistency. This process takes about 15 minutes.

Pack the mixture into a buttered bowl or bread loaf pan and let cool. When cool, remove from the pan and wrap in plastic wrap/foil and let it set in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours until serving. Enjoy!



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