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JANU Siers - A Midsummer Staple

Jānu cheese, traditional beer jug and mug

"Jāņu Siers", literally translating to "John's Cheese" is a very traditional caraway seed seed fresh cheese. Together with fire and beer, it is considered a staple part of the Latvian Midsummer festival (Jāņi or Līgo Svētki), celebrated on the eve of St John's Day (the 23rd to 24th June).

The traditions of Jāņi are covered in our separate blog "Jani and Midsummer" , however the importance of company, traditional foods and legends cannot be ignored. Heading off to the country to celebrate Jāņi in the company of family, friends and neighbours is almost as important as the traditional foods that are shared by all. Legend holds that those family members who choose sleep over preparation and participation of the festivities are 'lazy' and will remain lazy for the rest of summer.

So, to avoid the curse of laziness, it's time to start preparing for the festivities. The cheese can be prepared a few weeks before Midsummer's Night so that it has time to set and cure. Methods vary, but essentially the cheese is half cooked and half curdled and comprises of fresh cow's milk, eggs, salt and caraway seeds. Regardless of the recipe, the cheese must be formed into a round shape to symbolise the sun and ritual of solstice.

Once ready, it can be served immediately while still warm with a drizzle of honey. Alternatively, leave it to cure for a few weeks to allow the wonderful flavours of the caraway seeds to develop and offset the sweet rich flavours of the milk and eggs. Serve it on its own or with butter, but never on bread. And don't forget the earthy rich homemade beer which must simultaneously be offered with the cheese.


  • Cheesecloth or thin white sheeting (approx 40 x 40 cm)

  • 1.5 litres of full fat milk (unhomogenised is best)

  • 500gr of farm cheese or cottage cheese (the firmer the better)

  • 3 egg yolks

  • 100 grams of unsalted butter

  • A pinch