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The Shocking Truth About the World's Most Expensive Cheese – It's Not What You Think!

In the world of cheese, where craft meets complexity, a creation emerges that shatters the norms and transcends the boundaries of dairy indulgence. Imagine a cheese so extraordinary that its price tag is as mind-blowing as its flavor profile.

At the heart of this dairy marvel is an unexpected source: not cows, goats, or sheep, but the humble donkey. Nestled in the Zasavica Donkey Reserve in west central Serbia, Pule cheese is a product of sheer rarity, stemming from the milk of the Balkan donkey, a breed both rare and endangered. The reserve, a sanctuary for these gentle creatures, adds an air of authenticity as one of the last remaining wetlands in Serbia.

Pule Cheese
Pule Cheese

Draped in opulence, Pule cheese reigns supreme in the world of dairy, commanding a staggering $600 per pound—a captivating symphony for the taste buds and a financial conquest for the discerning connoisseur.

The alchemy of Pule begins with a unique blend: 60% donkey milk from the jenny (female), 40% goat milk, rennet, and a closely guarded secret recipe. The rarity of donkey milk sets the stage for exclusivity, with each jenny producing a mere 1.5 to 2 liters per day, a stark contrast to the prolific output of cows. This scarcity is further compounded by the need for three manual milkings daily, as the donkeys' anatomy prohibits machine milking. The painstaking process, orchestrated by Slobodan Simić, founder of the reserve, culminates in a month-long aging period, transforming the liquid gold into the coveted Pule cheese.

Pule Cheese from Zasavica Donkey Reserve
Pule Cheese from Zasavica Donkey Reserve Photo:Zasavica Donkey Reserve

The flavor journey of Pule is as exceptional as its creation. Often likened to Spain's famed manchego, Pule stands apart with added richness and intensity, offering a uniquely soft and crumbly texture that captivates the palate. The donkey milk's composition, with 1% fat and an astonishing 60 times more Vitamin C than cow's milk, imparts a nuanced sour tang, elevating the cheese to a level of sophistication that justifies its premium price.

Beyond the culinary allure, the exorbitant cost of Pule cheese plays a vital role in preserving the rare Balkan donkey breed and its habitat. Each purchase contributes to the conservation efforts at Zasavica, ensuring the continued existence of these extraordinary creatures.

Craving a sample? Acquiring pule isn't as simple as strolling into a cheese shop; instead, you'll have to embark on a journey, catching a flight to Belgrade and venturing to the Zasavica Donkey Reserve for an up-close experience. Or go online and place an order directly from the reserve.


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