Safed Cheese is a semi-hard salty cheese that originated in the city of Safed. And today you can still find the original dairies in the city. Let’s begin our visit!
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In every grocery store in Israel, you can find Safed cheese. It is widespread, and we buy it every week. So what is Safed cheese?
Tzfat cheese is a semi-hard salty cheese produced in Israel, originally from sheep’s milk. It was first produced in Safed in 1840 and is still produced there by descendants of the original cheesemakers.
The cheese began to be produced in 1840 at HaMeiri Dairy, established in the home of Meir Arzoni (later HaMeiri), who immigrated from Persia.
Gvina Sfattit is a mild curd cheese molded in a basket that gives the cheese distinctive circular striations. The cheese has an elastic texture and low-fat content. The milk is pasteurized at a low 72 °C (162 °F), which preserves the food proteins. Trimming is based largely on the action of enzymes contained in a special ferment and on calcium chloride rather than on the action of lactic acid. The fermentation is quick, about an hour. After separating most of the whey, the cheese is stored for several hours in straw or plastic baskets to drain the remaining whey and form its round shape. For the remainder of the draining time, the cheese is inverted several times to help the draining and to form the basket’s pattern on all sides.
Fresh Tzfat cheese is used in salads and sandwiches. The aged variety can be grated for use in baking or cooking.
Safed cheese was named after the city of Safed. And you can still find the original dairies in the city. Let’s visit them.
Here is a map of the city with marked POI.
And here is the touristic map of Safed.
- You can enlarge the map by clicking on it.
The most popular dairies in Safed are Hameiri Dairy and Kadosh Dairy.
We will start by visiting the Hameiri Cheese Factory (marked as #23 on the map at the beginning of this guide) since they were the cheese’s original producers.
Note: Hameiri diary is locacted on Keren ha-Yesod 158.
As you can see from the sign, you can visit this place in two ways. If you are part of a group, then you can book a tour in advance. Otherwise, for individuals, Hameiri Dairy offers tours on Fridays at noon. And as far as I know, the tours are only in Hebrew. We arrived around one o’clock, and I did not see a soul. Thus we continued to Kadosh Cheese Factory.
What can you find inside the Hameiri museum? Here is what the sign on the site tells about it:
Beit Hameiri is a historical museum that documents the life of the Jewish community of Safed from the beginning of the 19th century until 1948. It houses the most comprehensive collection of its kind, including authentic exhibits, manuscripts, documents, photographs, paintings, and an endless number of stories.
Its founder, Yehezkel Hameiri (1934-1889), was a journalist-author and researcher who spent twenty years restoring the complex of buildings next to his parents’ home, in the heart of Safed’s ancient quarter. He then filled it with vestiges of the town’s past. The museum he built for his hometown was inaugurated in 1980. Since then, it has served for guided tours and activities, as well as an archive for researchers and genealogists. Beit Hameiri combines a visit to a historic building with different events from the town’s past. Visitors encounter the “Old-Timers of Safed” and their tales. Beit Hameiri is recognized under the 1983 Museums Act.
After a short walk, we reached Kadosh cheese. It is located on Ha-Rav Aharon Ben Shimon Street and marked as #17 on the map at the beginning of this guide.
While Hameiri dairy has a small museum and offers tours, Kadosh dairy is a factory and a store. This dairy consists of several rooms. In one of the spaces, they prepare cheese and, on the other, they sell it. There is no museum, no tours. It is a store with a diary where you can take a peek at the preparation process.
Kadosh Dairy does not have an official site, and different places quote diverse opening hours. Hence here are the approximate opening hours:
Sunday – Thursday: 09:00 – 17:00
Friday: 09:00 – 14:00 (or one hour before the beginning of Saturday).
You can always contact them by phone: 04-6920326, 050-7299798. But if you want to see cheese preparation, then I would suggest arriving before noon.
After watching the workers for several minutes, we headed to the nearby room to buy some cheese. As you can see, they sell not only different types of cheese but also olives, olive oil, Halva, and ice cream.
It is also worth mentioning that they let you taste before purchasing. Thus you can buy only the ones you like.
We bought several portions of ice creams and different types of cheeses. We enjoyed the ice cream and ate the cheeses at home. The taste of Safed cheese from Kadosh dairy is different than the one we purchase at our store. Their cheese has more body, more taste, and less water.
If you are visiting Safed and love cheeses, I would suggest stopping at one of the dairies. Moreover, this is the stop that your kids will enjoy as well.
Have you been to Safed and one of its dairies? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
For additional points of interest nearby check out Safed.
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.