A traditional, refreshment beverage from Turkey, consisting of water, yogurt and salt. Typically water and yogurt are mixed together in a ratio of 1:2 and then a little salt is added. The amount of salt depends on region, taste and habit, but it is usually around 2 %.
Today Ayran comes in a variety of different flavours, such as mint, basil and various fruit flavours.
Did you know? Ayran is known in other countries by the names Tan (Russia, Armenia), Lassi (Caucasus) and Dugh (Iraq, Iran).
Flavour-forming starter cultures whose main component is lactic acid bacteria.
Because milk fat weighs less than milk, it rises to the top when milk is left standing for a period of time. This rising milk fat creates a layer of cream. The extent to which creaming takes place depends on the size of the fat globules. Homogenisation can largely prevent milk from creaming.
Acuka, known as Muhammara in some regions of Turkey, is a tangy paste typically consisting of bell peppers, tomatoes, walnuts and olive oil, seasoned with various herbs and spices, such as caraway, garlic, pepper, mint, thyme and pimento. It is traditionally used as a bread spread or dip and served as a so-called Meze.
Did you know? Acuka is not only typical of Turkish cuisine but also eaten in many parts of the Middle East, throughout the Caucasus and even in Russia. The name of this food ranges from Acuka and Adzuka to Ajika, depending on region.
And: The walnuts in Acuka contain plenty of Fluorine, which is also an important component of toothpaste. Fluorine makes the teeth more resistant to caries and helps preserve tooth enamel.
A spicy-fruity, sometimes even fiery hot vegetable salsa, which both originated in and takes its name from the South-eastern Turkish city of Gaziantep. AntepEzmesi consists of red and green bell peppers, bell pepper and tomato paste, lemon juice and olive oil, seasoned with salt, sugar, thyme, parsley and mint. The ingredients are traditionally minced by hand so that the paste does not become too watery and lose flavour.
Did you know? Bell pepper, the main ingredient in AntepEzmesi, is a real vitamin bomb, containing up to ten times more vitamin C than oranges or lemons.
Beyaz Peynir (White Cheese)
Beyaz Peynir, which takes its name from its appearance, is a cheese ripened in brine. Translated into English, Beyaz Peynir literally means “white cheese”, but it is better known in most of the Western world as Feta or sheep cheese, even though it is not always produced from sheep milk. Due to an EU regulation from 2002, however, the label “Feta” is now protected and can only be used in conjunction with cheeses originating in Greece. Furthermore, national Greek law requires that Feta be made according to traditional methods, which, among other things, also means that the cheese must be produced exclusively from sheep or goat’s milk.
Beyaz Peynir, on the other hand, may be made from cow, sheep or goat’s milk, in many cases even from buffalo milk. It is especially popular in Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria, where it is eaten daily. In shops the cheese is sold shrink-wrapped in plastic (with a bit of brine) or in a tin can. Its taste can range from somewhat salty and sour to mild or even tangy. Fat content is most commonly 45 %, 55 % or 60 %. Beyaz Peynir has a fresh, sour taste and is good for at least 6 months if stored in its brine.
Did you know? Beyaz Peynir is a good source of calcium and protein.
Bratwurst (Frying Sausage)
Bratwurst refers to various kinds of processed meat that are specially produced for frying. They are available in raw (also called “fresh”) or, more commonly, in cooked form. First, the processed meat is filled into a casing or formed in another way without casing (e.g., boiled and chilled like German Wollwurst). Then, if cooked, it is boiled in hot water or broth or sometimes steamed. To prepare the sausage for consumption, it is usually grilled or fried in a pan. In Germany there are over 150 types of sausage.
Did you know? German Bratwurst does not get its name from “braten” the German word for “fry” but rather from “Brät”, the special kind of ground meat that is used in sausage production.
Calcium is a chemical element and the main building block of bones and teeth. Bound calcium serves not only as a building block but also as storage in case of food scarcity. In the blood and tissues, calcium takes over important functions, including nerve and muscle cell stimulation, blood pressure stabilisation and blood clotting. The human body requires a regular supply of calcium in order to function properly.
However, scientific studies have shown that many populations are not getting sufficient levels of calcium in their food supply. Without the consumption of milk and milk products, it is hard to achieve optimum calcium intake. Because of the high bioavailability of calcium in milk, the body is better able to absorb calcium from milk than from many other food sources. This means that ½ l milk covers more than half of a person’s daily requirement of calcium. This is why the daily consumption of milk and milk products is crucial for maintaining a healthy body.
Did you know? Cheese contains about 5-10 times as much calcium as yogurt. This makes cheese one of our biggest sources of calcium.
Cecil Peynir is a type of string cheese preserved in brine. Its strings have a similar consistency to Mozzarella. It is rolled together into thicker ropes, usually in the form of an eight. The cheese is generally soaked in lukewarm to warm water before serving. This is the only way to get the strings to separate from one another. It also helps wash away the brine so that the full taste of the cheese can unfold. Cecil Peynir is especially popular in Eastern Turkey and Armenia. Because of its low fat content (5-10 %), it is often recommended in diets.
Did you know? In Russia, Cecil Peynir is a very popular snack or finger food in bars where beer is served.
Cemen is a spicy, Turkish paste, containing ground fenugreek. Ingredients vary according to manufacturer and family or regional tradition; however, they typically include ground fenugreek, minced garlic and ground (Turkish) sweet pepper. It is served as a bread spread or used in the drying of Pastirma (see entry).
Did you know? Fenugreek is considered a medicinal plant and can be used externally for the healing of tumours. Taking internally, it is used in treating appetite disturbances and colds. The health benefits of this plant have been known since the time of the ancient Greeks.
Çökelek is a kind of Turkish white cheese that is produced when the whey left over in the production of Beyaz Peynir is boiled. The cheese is prepared differently depending on region. It can be eaten fresh, preserved or even stored and ripened in little earthenware pots or goatskin bags.
Did you know? Çökelek can have a hard, slightly flaky consistency or be soft and grainy, depending on production method. Its taste and aroma vary accordingly, from rather mild to very strong.
Translated Crème Fraîche means “fresh cream”. It is produced from cream and lactic acid bacteria. As the name suggests, Crème Fraîche originated in France.
Did you know? According to law, no preservatives, stabilisers or other additives are permitted in the production of Crème Fraîche. Otherwise, the product is not allowed to be sold under the name “Crème Fraîche”.
Edam Cheese (EskiKasar)
A type of hard cheese originating in the Netherlands, Edam is now produced in many countries, including Germany. Edam is one of many hard cheeses that take their names from their towns of origin. It is produced in both loaf and wheel form and takes at least 5 weeks to ripen. It is often encased in wax or plastic. Edam has a smooth consistency and a mild, pure taste. It is available with fat content 30, 40, 45 or 50 % of dry weight.
Did you know? Variations on Edam cheese include German butter cheese and French Babybel, which is also encased in a red or yellow wax rind.
Cream cheese, as opposed to many other types of cheese, is ready to be eaten after only a very short or even no ripening period. For this reason, it belongs to the category of fresh or unripened cheeses. In Germany, such cheeses are required to contain over 73 % water, calculated by weight in the non-fatty matter. This means that cream cheese must be stored cool and does not remain good very long. Cream cheese is usually eaten as a bread spread.
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HellimPeynir (Halloumi Cheese)
Halloumi is a semi-hard cheese that is usually made from cow milk but can also be made from sheep or goat milk. It was first produced over 2,000 years ago in ancient Egypt and is thus deeply embedded in the culinary culture of the Arab, Turkish and Greek regions. Because this type of cheese retains its form when heated, it is especially well suited to grilling and frying. In Germany, Halloumi is often sold as grill cheese.
Did you know? Halloumi was originally made from the milk of so-called Mouflons, mountain goats from the Mediterranean area. In addition to the Middle East and Mediterranean region, Halloumi is especially popular in Australia, where the British brought the recipe during the colonial period.
Yogurt is milk thickened by lactic acid bacteria, which gives it its typical, sour taste. The term yogurt comes from the Turkish word yogurt, which in turn comes from the verb yogurmak, which can be translated as “curdle”.
Yogurt can be divided into the following types, according to fat content:
- Natural Yogurt
o Yogurt from skimmed milk: max. 0.5 % fat
o Low-fat yogurt: max. 1.5 % to 1.8 % fat
o Whole milk yogurt: max. 3.5 % fat
o Full cream yogurt (Süzme Yogurt): at least 10 % fat
- Fruit Yogurt
o Yogurt with fruit: at least 6 % fruit
o Yogurt with fruit preparation: at least 3.5 % fruit
o Fruit-flavoured yogurt: less than 3.5 % fruit
Each of these types is then also categorised as:
- Set yogurt: incubated and cooled in the packaging
- Stirred yogurt: incubated in a tank and stirred prior to cooling and packaging
Did you know? Yogurt is a good source of calcium and magnesium, both of which are important for strong bones and teeth as well as supporting the nervous system. One gram of typical, commercial yogurt contains more than 10 million units of bacteria beneficial to the human body.
Markenbutter (High Quality Butter)
In order for butter to earn the grade A label “German Markenbutter”, its production process must pass a monthly inspection following strict guidelines. During this inspection, the following characteristics are checked and evaluated:
- Appearance, smell, taste and texture (sensory characteristics)
- Water distribution
- pH level and microbiology (laboratory tests)
The butter must receive at least 4 out of 5 possible points in each category in order to carry the label “German Markenbutter”.
Did you know? Annual butter production in India exceeds that of the USA, Germany, France, New Zealand, Russia, Poland and the UK combined (all of which are among the world’s top 10 producers of butter).
Lactose (natural milk sugar)
Lactose is the primary carbohydrate in milk. It is composed of glucose and galactose. During the production of cultured milk products and cheese, lactose is partially decomposed. The lactose content of typical cow milk is normally circa 4.8 %.
Did you know? Human milk contains 7.1 % lactose, significantly higher than cow, sheep or goat’s milk (4.3 % – 4.8 %).
Lactose intolerance occurs when the digestion enzyme lactase is partially or completely inactive. Lactase is crucial for breaking down the lactose into its individual components during the digestion process in the small intestine. If lactose is not broken down, then it cannot be absorbed by the small intestine and continues its journey into the large intestine. The lactose is then broken down into fatty acids, acids, carbohydrates and hydrogen by the bacteria living in the large intestine. Water flows into the intestine and the acids that have been formed cause intestinal movements. This results in the typical symptoms of lactose intolerance, which include bloating, gas, colic and diarrhea.
Did you know? An estimated 75 % of the world’s population is at least slightly lactose intolerant. In China this affects 94 % of the population, in South-east Asia 98 %. In Germany, on the other hand, only 15 % of the population is affected, in Sweden a mere 2 %. These percentages may explain why few milk products are consumed in the Far East yet so many in Western Europe.
Milk (Cow Milk)
Milk is the unprocessed udder secretion of dairy cows, obtained through single or multiple milking(s).
Did you know? According to a study from the University of Madison, classical music raises the daily milk yield of cows by up to 7.5 %.
KasarPeynir (Kashkaval Cheese)
Kasar is the name of a sliceable, Turkish cheese that was first mentioned in writing in 1900 in the Ottoman Empire. Kasar was originally made from sheep or goat’s milk. Nowadays, however, it is usually produced from cow milk. Kasar has a straw-yellow to white colour and a smooth, creamy yet firm texture. It is comparable to mild Gouda, Havarti or the Spanish cheese Manchego. In the Balkan region, Kasar is known by the name Kashkaval or its variations (Kačkavalj, Cașcaval or Kaschkawal).
Did you know? In Turkey nowadays nearly every type of hard or sliceable cheese is colloquially called “Kasar”.
Fresh or ripened to varying degrees, cheeses are products made of curdled dairy milk. By-products of dairy milk, such as buttermilk, cream, sweet and sour whey and whey cream may also be used.
Did you know? Cheese contains nearly everything that humans need. Cheese is nothing other than a concentrate of the most valuable substances in milk: easily digestible milk fat, high quality protein, various vitamins and minerals. Therefore, cheese should be an important component of every human diet.
Kaymak (also see: Cream)
Kaymak is a product of cow milk that is created when fresh milk is heated. The layer of cream that forms on top of the milk is skimmed off in several steps. Kaymak is actually layer cream. Kaymak has a thicker, creamier consistency than typical German cream. In Turkish cuisine, Kaymak is a common ingredient in sweet pastries. It is also one of the main flavours of dairy ice cream.
Did you know? Because Kaymak is often eaten with honey in Turkey, it is frequently sold as a ready-made product with added honey flavouring in shops.
Kelle Peynir (Kefalotyri)
Kelle Peynir is a hard, salty cheese with a yellow to white colour. It was originally made from sheep or goat’s milk, but industrial Kelle Peynir is usually made of pasteurised cow milk. Due to its quality and consistency it is ideal for grating and as a topping for many kinds of warm and cold dishes in place of Parmesan. Because it does not lose its form when heated, it is also grilled or fried in some regions.
Did you know? The production of the first Kefalotyri dates back to Byzantine Greece.
Kochkäse (Cooking Cheese)
Cooking cheese is a sour milk cheese that is given a permanently thick, viscous, spreadable consistency through adding sodium bicarbonate and then heating. In the production process, curd is drained for several hours and mixed with sodium bicarbonate (baking powder). After standing for several days (depending on the recipe), it takes on a glazed or shiny appearance. It is then heated under constant stirring (not over 42 °C) until it becomes liquefied. Afterwards, the mass is mixed with butter, sometimes also cream and egg yolk, and seasoned with salt and usually caraway.
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The cold chain is the uninterrupted system of cooling during transport from manufacturer to wholesaler to retail shop to consumer, especially of groceries and food stuffs but also of medicine and chemical products.
It is important to keep the cold chain intact for fresh milk and other fresh milk products in order to prevent spoilage before the “Best Before” date. The optimum temperature for storing milk and fresh milk products is between 8 – 10° C, and this temperature should not be exceeded. In milk, it is especially the lactic acid bacteria that causes spoilage. The warmer the milk gets, the more quickly the bacteria multiple and the faster the milk spoils.
Cold temperatures, on the other hand, significantly slow the growth of bacteria so that milk products remain good longer.
Cream is produced when milk is skimmed, and it typically contains circa 30 % fat. From the cream that is separated from the skim milk in a centrifuge, dairy cream products are made. The higher the fat content, the creamier and fuller they taste. If the cream is soured with bacteria cultures, sour cream products result. Cream products include coffee cream, whipping cream, crème fraîche, smetana and sour cream, among others.
- Sour Cream
Sour cream is created by souring pasteurised cream through adding lactic acid bacteria. The fat content of sour cream is at least 10 %.
- Whipping Cream
Whipping cream contains at least 30 % fat. Ready-to-use spray whipped cream (in the spray can) is a mixed milk product with 33 % fat and 5 % added sugar.
Did you know? By whipping cream its volume increases by 90 to 100 %.
Smetana, also known as Schmand or Schmetten, is a thick sour cream that contains circa 20-30 % fat. It does not get flaky when heated, which makes it ideal for use in both cold and warm dishes. In Germany, Schmandkuchen (smetana cake) is especially popular.
Did you know? The German word for butterfly, “Schmetterling” takes its name from “Schmetten” another word for smetana. The name originates in the belief that butterflies are highly attracted to milk products. The English word “butterfly” can be similarly explained.
Salami is a type of European raw sausage that takes its name from the Italian word for cured, salted meat, Salame, the plural form of which is Salami. There are many different types of Salami, and it can be made from various kinds of meat, such as beef or poultry. Sometimes it has a pepper or herb rind. Salami is known above all for its characteristic spicy, garlic flavour.
Did you know? 100 grams of Salami contain up to 50 milligrams of vitamin C. An apple of the same weight contains only 12 milligrams.
Processed Cheese (Melt Cheese)
Melt cheese is a common product made from either one or several types of cheese combined. According to German regulations, melt cheese products must contain at least 50 % cheese, include other milk products and be produced through warming and melting with the addition of so-called “melting salts” as emulsifiers. The cheese mass is then filled into forms and cooled until it hardens. Spices, herbs and other ingredients like mushrooms or ham chunks are sometimes mixed in.
Did you know? Melt cheese is a good source of protein, minerals, calcium, the fat soluble vitamins A and D, and the precursor of vitamin A, beta carotene, which has protective properties.
Sucuk is a strong, spicy, type of raw sausage that contains garlic. It is usually produced from beef, but sometimes includes lamb, veal or poultry as well. It has a reddish brown colour and is air dried, sometimes also smoked. It is a main component in the cuisine of the entire Balkan region as well as Turkey and mainly eaten for breakfast. In Germany, Sucuk is considered a typical Turkish food and is both common and popular.
Sucuk is usually served in slices that have been fried in the pan or grilled till crispy. Sucuk is typically seasoned with salt, pepper, caraway and garlic. The two most common types of Sucuk are:
- ParmakSucuk: Two short, finger-length Sucuk sausages that are connected together at the ends.
- KangalSucuk: A long, horseshoe-shaped Sucuk sausage.
Did you know? In many cases, lactic acid is used in the ripening process of Sucuk. For this reason, Sucuk may also contain lactose.
TulumPeynir is a type of Turkish cream cheese that is traditionally made of goat’s milk and contains circa 50 % fat. The industrial version of TulumPeynir, however, is commonly produced from cow milk. In Germany, it is often referred to as “nomad cheese”. It is commonly served as a Meze with fish dishes and with Raki. The TulumPeynir from the city Erzincan is especially well known. However, the following areas are also known for producing TulumPeynir:
- Ägäis Region (Izmir, Aydın, Manisa, Muğla und Balıkesir)
- Divle (Province Karaman)
- Cimi (Antalya Province)
- Kargi (Corum Province)
Did you know? Before the invention of cooling devices, such as the refrigerator, cheese was salted to prevent spoilage and stored in goat or sheepskin bags. Nomad cheese is still produced and preserved in this special way in many regions of Turkey.
Sausage is a food prepared from minced meat, salt and seasoning. Some varieties also contain blood and organs. The term poultry sausage includes all types of sausage that contain turkey, chicken or duck meat.
Did you know? In addition to poultry, this sausage often contains beef. The animal that gives the sausage its name must not necessarily be that which makes up the larger percentage of the meat component but simply that which gives the sausage its character. Poultry sausage that contains only poultry meat may be identified by the term “pure”.
Kadayif are thin strands of dough that are soaked in water and brought into their typical thread form. In most cases, they are used as the main ingredient in desserts – layered with nut paste and baked for instance. Künefe (see entry) is also very well known. This warm dessert is made of Kadayif, syrup, butter and cheese and is especially popular in South-eastern Turkey.
Kadayif is mainly produced and consumed in Turkey; however, it is also popular in the Balkans, Levant and Middle East.
Did you know? The name Kadayif originates from the Arabic word “Kadife”, which means velvet.
Künefe is a Turkish dessert, usually eaten warm and especially popular in Hatay Province. The main ingredient of Künefe is Kadayif (see entry), which consists of thin threads of dough. Künefe is traditionally filled with so-called Dil-Peyniri or Lor-Peyniri, a soft cheese similar to mozzarella – the cheese is coated with a crust of Kadayif and prepared in a pan. After the cheese has been baked with the Kadayif, it is covered with sugar-honey syrup and typically garnished with grated pistachios.
Künefe is served warm and usually with a spoonful of Kaymak (see entry) or dairy ice cream, which slowly melts on the warm Künefe.
Künefe is known throughout the middle East under the Arabic name Kunafah or under the Levantine name Kanafeh.
Did you know? Künefe has become increasingly popular in recent years and is now eaten not only in its provinces of origin but throughout Turkey. The trend has grown to such an extent that more and more manufacturers are producing ready-made Künefe for sale in shops as a convenience product, even in Western Europe.
Börek is a general term for filled dough pockets, made of so-called thin Yufka dough leaves that are often filled with (sheep)cheese, ground meat, spinach or vegetables and less frequently with tuna fish. It is best compared to a savoury strudel.
To prepare classic Börek, Yufka dough leaves are laid out on a baking tray, spread with the desired filling, covered with more Yufka dough leaves and then baked in the oven until golden brown. However, there are several special kinds of Börek that are also well known and quite popular:
- SigaraBörek (Cigarette Börek): For this type of Börek, the triangular Yukfa leaves are filled and then rolled into a longish, cigarette-like form. SigaraBörek are not baked but deep fried in hot fat until they are crisp and golden brown.
- Su Börek (Water Börek): Water Börek are softer and fluffier than typical baked Börek. This is because water is poured on them during the baking process. The water is absorbed by the dough and turns into steam, making the dough softer and thicker.
- KöyBörek (Village Börek): In preparing KöyBörek the Yufka dough is filled and then rolled until it takes on a long, tube-like form. Afterwards, it is curled into a snail shape so that it looks similar to a cinnamon swirl. Finally, it is baked in the oven until golden brown.
Did you know? Börek is prepared in hundreds of different forms in all possible sizes, varying according to city, region, occasion and family tradition.
Pastirma is a type of heavily spiced beef ham that is traditionally dry-cured but in other countries sometimes smoked instead. This meat specialty is usually served as a cold appetizer or snack in Turkey. The beef filet is rubbed with Cemen, which seasons the meat and also preserves it and protects it from bacteria. Industrially manufactured Pastirma is usually round rather than oval-shaped like traditional Pastirma. It also frequently contains pieces of meat from other animals, such as poultry.
Pastirma originated among the nomadic Turkish peoples, who used the dried and hence well-preserved slices of meat as a calorie-rich provision for long journeys.
Pastirma is not only eaten in Turkey, however, but also in many countries of the Balkans and Caucasus as well as in other parts of the world.
- Bulgaria: The so-called Basterma is a cold dessert, usually served with beer after dinner.
- Romania: Pastramă is served cold. It is salted, cooked mutton.
- Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia: Pastërma/Pastrma is typically air-dried beef or mutton. It is first heavily coated with salt and then hung for several months in a cold, dark room.
- Georgia: Basturma is grilled beef or mutton that is served warm as a main dish. It is eaten from a flat skewer.
- Armenia: Basturma consists of pressed, air-dried pieces of beef. Before drying, they are first soaked in salt and coated with very spicy seasoning.
- USA: Pastrami was probably introduced in the USA towards the end of the 19th century through Romanian or Jewish cuisine, and it became very popular there. Pastrami refers to a smoked, seasoned piece of meat, usually red meat (frequently shoulder of beef but in the USA usually beef brisket) that is thinly sliced and eaten on bread or in sandwiches.
Did you know? The name Pastirma comes from the old Turkish bastirma or bastirma, which means something like pressed meat. The name originates from the ancient Turkish custom of placing meat under the saddle and “riding it dry”, that is dry pressing it.
Halāl is an Arabic word that can be translated as “permitted” or “allowed”. In a religious context, it refers to the dietary regulations set forth in the Koran and the Sunna. In general, all foods are permitted with the exception of those that are expressly forbidden.
Animals are allowed to be consumed if they are not forbidden, are slaughtered according to Islamic law and were not already dead before slaughter. Non-slaughtered animals are permitted for consumption if they are hunted and killed according to Islamic law. Animals killed by wild predators, of unknown origin or of unknown health condition are not permitted for consumption.
The traditional form of non-anaesthetized slaughter, Halāl butchering, is practised in most countries and preferred by the majority of Muslims. Although anaesthetization is compatible with Islamic Fiqh law, as confirmed by Muslim scholars, it is not accepted by the majority of Muslims as they fear that the animal will not survive the anaesthetization itself and thus be dead before slaughter.
In 2010, around 400 companies in Germany offered Halāl products. Similar to the labels marking certified organic and Kosher foods, a label known as the Halāl Certificate is given to Halāl foods sold in shops. Foods are permitted to carry this label if the production process is proven to have followed all Halāl regulations. With this certificate, the producer guarantees to the customer that foods have been produced according to the rules of Islamic dietary law and are therefore Halāl.