T-Cheesimal, a project aimed at valorising the Maltese gbejna is being undertaken by the universities of Malta and Catania and the Consorzio Ricerca Filiera Lattiera Casearia under the Italia-Malta 2007-2013.
The project strives to deliver scientific proof of cheeselet quality and safety, possibly facilitating the acquisition of the quality mark or certification, the university said in a statement.
Traditionally produced form sheep’s milk, the Maltese cheeselet, which is now seen as a delicacy, once considered an important part of the Maltese diet.
The proper rearing of sheep including appropriate housing conditions and good quality feed were essential in ensuring a good final product and an aim of the project was to identify the feed composition of the animals, either as fresh cut grasses or concentrates. Another aim was the experimentation with traditional and new culinary methods in the production process.
The project also deals with the importance of ensuring good hygienic practices throughout the production chain and during handling by the consumer.
A marketing exercise was carried out with local consumers to analyse their views and expectations of the local sheep cheeselet quality vis-à-vis foreign cheeses
Places frequented by consumers, such as supermarkets and restaurants, were also studied to determine how these presented the cheeselet.
The project also aims to improve the traceability issue, possibly facilitating the acquisition of the quality mark or certification.
The university said that although the project partners, as a consortium, were striving to deliver scientific proof of cheeselet quality and safety, all stakeholders within the chain, should be aware that this depended on good handling of the product from farm to table.