On July 16, 17 and 23, the Food Heritage Foundation (FHF) delivered three training sessions and workshops on Sirdeleh and soft goat cheese making in Deir al Qamar. These sessions were commissioned by the Secours Islamique France (SIF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Chouf Biosphere Reserve. FHF supports the SIF objectives in enhancing the preservation of authentic food in the Chouf region.
Doing so, Eng. Nadim Rawda began the first session with a general introduction workshop in dairy products and white cheese making. Local farmers, cooperatives and cheese makers where taught the extensive knowledge of Baladi Cheese making with a focus on the production of goat soft cheeses flavored with sun-dried ingredients such as herbs and tomatoes.
On the second day, a participatory workshop facilitated by Eng. Mabelle Chedid and Mrs. Marwa Soubra gathered Sirdeleh producers from the Chouf area and aimed at identifying the Sirdeleh production method while pointing out the challenges that the producers face at different levels of the production process. The participants were motivated to share their experience and talk about challenges which they are facing mainly related to the lack of good quality clay jars and lack of marketing. The negative aspects of using plastic jars were addressed in the Food Safety session that was followed by a presentation on Occupational Health.
In an attempt to promote and preserve the traditional method of Sirdeleh making, SIF will distribute to the participants, later this summer, clay jars produced by a local potter.
Finally on the third day of training, the basic training on Sirdeleh making was delivered: participants learned how to prepare the clay jar prior to use and how to safely fill in the jar with goat milk. At the end of the training they all tasted freshly made Sirdeleh cheese prepared by a local farmer from Baaqlin.
Sirdaleh is a climate-smart product which makes use of the seasonal goat milk production and is preserved for use during winter when goat milk is not available. Similarly to Ambarees, Sirdeleh is made exclusively with raw goat milk. During the production process, Sirdeleh cheese is removed from the vessel and used to make kishk, but the bulk of the production is left to ferment in the jar to gain its acidic taste and conserved in glass jars covered with olive oil.
The preservation and documentation of the Sirdeleh cheese by passing on traditional production methods and expertise is a major concern to FHF who has previously teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Zahle and the Bekaa (CCIAZ ) to survey producers of Ambarees, another iconic dairy product prepared with raw goat milk, and which is facing similar threats such as lack of good clay jars and absence of marketing. The collaboration between FHF and CCIAZ also included a workshop and distribution of jars.