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                                                                Oka
  Canadian Flag   Oka Cheese
 
                  Return to: Cheese Main Page or Gourmet Main Page and Click for Recipes with this cheese
  • Name of cheese:  Oka  

  • Origin of Name:  Oka is the name of a small village in Québec, situated on the north shore of the Lake of the Two Mountains, just southwest of Montréal.

  • Country of origin:   Canada

  • State/Province/Region/Canton of origin:  Québec

  • Where made today:   Oka, Québec Canada

  • When originated:  1893 

  • History:  French Trappist monks, who settled in Brittany in 1815, created monastery cheese Port Salut. By 1875, their cheese had become popular in Paris. When in the late 1800's, monks from this same order established a monastery at La Trappe, Québec, near the village of Oka, they brought the Port Salut recipe with them, creating their version, Oka Trappist Cheese. Today, they still oversee its production.

  • Process description:  There are two classifications of Oka cheese, ‘Regular’ and ‘Classic’.  ‘Regular’ Oka can be made from both pasteurized and raw milk.  It is a pressed, semi-soft cheese that is surface ripened for some 30 days [the ‘Classic’ is ripened for an additional month] in refrigerated aging cellars.  The cheese rounds are placed on cypress slats and the cheeses are periodically turned and washed in a weak brine [saltwater] solution.

  • Type of cheese:  

    • Hardness of cheese: 

      • Semi-soft:  Semi-soft cheese.  Semi-soft cheeses, such as the famous Oka, are surface-ripened, meaning that the ripening process starts at the surface and progresses toward the interior. This delicate operation takes place in a refrigerated room in which cheeses are periodically turned and washed with a saltwater solution.

    •  Process: 

      • Pressed:   Yes 

      • Scalded: Cuite:  Yes

    • Fermentation: 

      • Surface:   Surface ripened  

    • Milk:  

      • Type of milk:   Cow 

      • Raw or Pasteurized:  Pasteurized and Raw

    • Type of rind:  Washed

    • Fat content:    28 per-cent

    • Protein:          22 per-cent

    • Color:  

      • Cheese:   A creamy off-white to yellow interior with a smooth, homogenous, flexible texture

      • Rind:  Straw to dark orange-red   

    • Taste:   ‘Regular’ Oka lacks the deep, penetrating flavors of the longer-ripened ‘Classic’ Oka.  Both cheeses have a distinctively flavored taste of the delicate subtleties of fresh, mellow nuttiness and fruitiness; it is also mellow, smooth, creamy and and butterly.  It is a taste that becomes more pronounced with the passing of time.  Its texture is smooth and creamy. 

    • Aroma:   Its light aroma is akin to a complex nut-like fermentation.  

    • Attributes:  tends to melt quickly

    • Configuration: 

      • Normal Weight:   2.6 kg

      • Form/Shape:   Rounds

      • Height: 

      • Diameter:  

      • Holes:  No

    • Ageing: 

      • Minimum Time:  1 month for 'Regular' Oka

      • Optimum Time:  2 months for 'Classic' Oka 

    • Amount of milk required/weight: 

    • Types/Varieties:  Regular, classic and light.

  • AOC:   No

  • How it should be stored:        It can be stored 1 – 4 weeks in the least cold part of the refrigerator, such as the vegetable drawer.  It should not come into contact with other foods.  It should be wrapped in aluminum foil [although plastic can be used as a substitute].  The aluminum foil protected cheese should then be placed into freezer bags and all air should be expelled before sealing.  Should a whitish mould start to form, remove that portion and wrap in a paper towel before rewrapping. 

    Most semi-soft cheeses can be frozen without affecting their taste.  However, because these cheeses have a delicate texture, freezing may alter this texture.  You should allow the cheese to cool before freezing.  And, you should allow frozen cheese to thaw in the refrigerator.  The taste and texture of dishes, made with previously frozen cheese, will not be affected by having been frozen.

    An alternative to freezing would be to use leftover cheese in making sauces for subsequent meals. 

  • How to enjoy it: 

    • Wine:  

      • Gendre:  Burgundy when Oka is part of the main meal; Zinfandel when the cheese is served as part of a desert.

      • Specific: 

    • Bread:  

    • How to cut it:  

    • Serving Presentation:   On pizza, in lasagna, in pasta dishes, in quiches, melted over side vegetables or in sandwiches.  It gives taste to soups, it can be used as a garnish in salads. And, its wonderful in fondues to warm those cold winter evenings!

      It, like any of the semi-soft cheeses, is a great addition to a tray, either for a tasting or to end a good meal.

  • Recipe for French Canadian Meat Pie (Tourtiere pie): 

    2 lbs. (almost 1 Kg) ground pork [see our metric conversion tables]
    1/2 lb.(250 gr) ground beef (some folks use all pork)
    1 cup shredded Oka Cheese
    2 finely chopped onions (medium)
    1 crushed garlic clove
    1 tsp (5ml) olive oil
    1/4 tsp.(1 g) (May increase by 1/8 tsp)* ground cloves
    1/2 tsp.(2 g) savory
    1/2 tsp.(2 g) celery salt
    1 cup (200 ml) water, salt and pepper to taste
    1/2 cup (75 g) bread crumbs, boiled mashed potatoes may be used instead.

    Note:  French Canadians like a stronger clove flavor.

    Saute onions in olive oil.  Add other ingredients except cheese.  Cook on low heat for approximately 30 min.  Line a 9" pie plate with a pastry such as that used in apple pie (NO sweetening).  Mix the cheese in with the meat mixture then put in the pie dish, cover with a top crust.  For a golden crust, brush pie top lightly with an egg wash made by beating 2 eggs into ¼ cup (50 ml) cream or milk.

    Bake at 375 degrees F (190.5 °C) for approximately 30 min.  Makes two 9 inch (22.5 cm) pies.  For a single pie reduce all ingredients to half the indicated amount.

    Some people may not like this pie, but I suggest trying it at least once.  This is a traditional French Canadian holiday treat.

     

  • More Recipes: with Oka Cheese 

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