THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO BENNA ĠBEJNA

Want to know more about Benna Ġbejna cheese, then this is your ultimate guide. From the history of ġbejna cheese, to how to serve, cook and even pair it. This guide will not only inform you but allow you to explore appetising recipes and other ġbejna related information.

 

The Origins of Benna Ġbejna

Benna Ġbejna (plural ġbejniet) are cheeselets made on the Maltese Islands from cow’s milk, salt and rennet. Milk from cows of the local cattle breed has been shown to produce milk with a fat and protein content that is very suitable for cheese making.

In 1990 Benna Ġbejna made from pasteurised cow’s milk in sealed vacuum packaging hit the market. It was an instant success with local consumers looking for a good quality and zero-risk product.

How is Benna Ġbejna made?

Benna Ġbejna is a traditional Maltese cheese made using milk that originates solely from our locally fed cows. During production, the milk is pasteurized, to remove pathogens, and every ġbejna undergoes fermentation and drying.

What makes Benna Ġbejna special is the uniqueness of the cow feeding and milking process that can only take place in Malta. The chemical composition of the milk used to make cheese is affected and perfected by the Maltese Mediterranean climate, water quality from local sources, feed type and milk storage. These are crucial elements which contribute to the quality of Maltese cow’s milk and ultimately to that of the delicious Benna Ġbejna.

Different Variations
The drying process in ġbejna production is what produces the harder ġbejna variation as opposed to the fresh, non-dried variation which is softer (ġbejna friska). Once the ġbejniet are produced, they can be refrigerated to be sold as fresh, soft ġbejniet and sold within a few days. However, if they are to be sold as dried cheeselets, they are left out to dry, soaked in vinegar and rolled in different seasonings.

Best Ways to Prepare and Serve Benna Ġbejna

Ġbejna is one of the classic Maltese cheeses which is a staple on any cheese board, traditional pizza, or Mediterranean pasta dish. Since Benna Ġbejna comes in a variety of seasonings, it is a remarkably versatile ingredient to any dish.

Ftira, Salads & Wraps

Ftira is a traditional Maltese disc-shaped loaf of bread made with flour, water, and salt. The Maltese ftira makes for a simple, fast, and delicious snack, especially when filled with the right fresh ingredients. Any of Benna’s seasoned Ġbejniet would be a perfect addition to a ftira sandwich.

Salad is the freshest dish one would go for in the summer months. But the salad is only as fresh as its ingredients. Which is why Benna Ġbejniet are the obvious choice when creating your unique tasting salad. Combine any of Benna’s seasoned Ġbejniet with local, fresh produce for a fulfilling lunchtime dish.

Wraps are another quick and easy option but don’t necessarily need to be boring or bland. Adding a few slices of Benna Ġbejna to your wrap will elevate the standard wrap filling. For an extra kick of flavour, place your wrap under a sandwich grill.

On the Grill or Fried

Summer is fast approaching and who doesn’t look forward to a delicious barbeque feast and warm summer vibes. Benna Ġbejna is a cheese which can withstand a little more heat than others and won’t melt immediately. This renders it perfect for certain recipes, like Parma ham wrapped ġbejna skewers.

Benna Ġbejna is also an excellent topping for a juicy burger. Take your burger to another level by adding thin slices of any flavoured Benna Ġbejna and topping off with your favourite sauce or dressing.

If you have not tried fried Benna Ġbejna yet, try it now! Biting into a crispy outer layer to reveal a soft, salty inner layer of cheese is an experience one should not miss. Think of mozzarella sticks but without all the mess and a more intense flavour. This can be paired with a sweet chutney or creamy mayo.

Cheese Boards

The classic way of serving Benna Ġbejna is on a cheese board with a selection of other cheeses, cold cuts, nuts, some dried fruit, and local water crackers (galletti). Create your perfect cheese board by ordering a selection of cheeses from mildest to strongest. This will give your guests a wide assortment of flavours.

Vegetarian boards can also be prepared, just eliminate the cold cuts and substitute with some roasted chickpeas, ripe olives, and a variety of nuts.

Benna Ġbejna Wine Pairings

When entertaining or just enjoying a relaxing night with a friend/ partner, beverages are an important accompaniment. So, we’ve listed a few options of wine which are best paired with the different seasonings of Benna Ġbejniet. 

Benna Ġbejna tal-Bżar - Red Wine

Benna’s Ġbejna tal-Bżar (peppered) can be served with an earthy Pinot Noir or Merlot red wine which will not overpower the ġbejna flavour but rather enhance it.

Benna Ġbejna Mħawra- White Wine

If you are more of a white wine person then we recommend cutting through into Benna’s Ġbejna Mħawra (chives, onions, and chili). If you want to accentuate the chili flavour notes in the ġbejna, then open up a bottle of Chardonnay and enjoy the wonderful combination.

Benna Ġbejna Bajda - Rosé

For those who prefer a lighter option of wine like Rosé then a delectable pairing is Benna’s Ġbejna Bajda (white/ plain). Rosé wine has brighter, crispier tasting notes which would pair well with the saltier tang of the Ġbejna Bajda. We suggest pairing it with a Syrah or Zinfandel.

Benna Ġbejna tal-Ħabaq - Sparkling Wine

Last but not least is Benna’s Ġbejna tal-Ħabaq which, like the other ġbejniet, is a semi-hard cheese but flavoured with basil and garlic. This ġbejna, having an earthier taste, would pair well with a bubbly Chenin Blanc sparkling white wine.

The above pairings are suggestions but can be appreciated with any blend of wine that you enjoy. There is no wrong way to pair wine with Benna Ġbejna.

Storing Benna Ġbejna

Benna Ġbejna can be refrigerated for 90 days, at a temperature of maximum 8°C.