At first glance, apple cheese looks a bit like charcuterie, but it’s not meat or even cheese at all.
To make it, cooks combine sliced raw apples (often of the Antonovka variety— the traditional choice for making Russian pastila, as well) with sugar to draw out the juice. Then they reduce the liquid and stew it with cinnamon and apple chunks. The resulting mixture is poured into a cheesecloth—hence the dessert’s name—and flattened under a weight for a day. To reach the desired firmness, it’s then hung to dry for 30 to 45 days. Slices of the chewy, sweet finished product go well with tea.
The tradition of making apple cheese dates back hundreds of years in Lithuania, Belarus, and Poland, a legacy of when the three countries were under unified rule as part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Need to Know
Look for apple cheese at food markets in Lithuania, Belarus, and Poland. It doesn't require refrigeration, making it a convenient edible souvenir. If you'd like to make your own, this video shows how.
Where to Try It
Halės TurgusPylimo g. 58, Vilnius, 01136, Lithuania
The oldest operating market in Vilnius sells meat and produce and has stalls serving prepared food.