Jben, also called Jben Beldi, is Morocco national cheese. It’s so popular and loved by Moroccans that they include it in almost every breakfast and brunch they make. Soft, creamy, delicious, and nourishing, once you try Moroccan Jben (if you haven’t already), you will fall in love with its deliciousness.
Moroccan Jben has its origins in the Rif Mountains located in Northern Morocco. It is traditionally made with raw goat’s milk, raw cow milk, or a mixture of milk and buttermilk.
The Moroccan Jben comes plain or flavored with aromatics like salt, thyme, pepper, or honey.
When making the traditional Moroccan Jben, Moroccan women filter the milk and pour it into a terracotta jar, then cover it with a cheesecloth to allow for fermentation. The fermentation takes 12 hours and can go up to 48 hours depending on the season and temperature.
The resulting cheese is then drained in fine cheesecloth bags, which are hung for a few days (5 to 10 days) to complete the drainage. In the Rif mountains where this cheese is from, drainage lasts up to 10 days to have the best consistency and moisture.
Luckily, you don’t have to wait all these days to make the Moroccan Jben. In fact, while the traditional way results in more delicate cheese, most Moroccan women go for an easier and shorter process which I will share with you below. You Jben will still be soft, creamy, and flavorful and you will be able to make a delicious batch in less than 12 hours.
You will need real buttermilk for this recipe. I tried many brands and the only one that works each time is Kate’s Real Buttermilk. You can find this brand in many supermarkets in the U.S (Wholefoods, Stop and Shop, Target, etc.). Their buttermilk is unprocessed, pure, and made the old-fashioned way, which is probably why my Moroccan cheese has the best texture and flavor when made using it as an ingredient.
Jben – Moroccan Fresh Cheese
- 3.8 ounce (1 liter) whole or semi-skimmed milk
- 3.8 ounce (1 liter) cultured buttermilk
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp dried thyme, origano or other herbs optional
- Pour the buttermilk in a large bowl
- In a saucepan, add the whole milk or semi-skimmed milk, the salt, and heat until barely a simmer (when you start seeing small bubbles on the top)
- Add the hot milk to the buttermilk and gently mix with a wooden spoon. Add the herbs and aromatics if you are going for a flavored Jben
- Let the mixture cool down for about 2 hours. You will see it start separating which is a good indicator that the chemistry is working great
- Pour the mixture in a strainer to get rid of the liquid
- Place the strainer (with the strained mixture) on top of a large bowl. Keep the mixture in the strainer and cover it with a cheesecloth on top of which you can place a heavy plate or bowl to add weight and complete the straining process
- Let strain for 12 hours or overnight
- Your Jben is ready and you have now a delicious, soft cheese in the strainer! You can shape your cheese by hand or mold it in a container for a better presentation.
- Moroccan Jben cheese is delicious on fresh bread with a drizzle of honey
this recipe is a keeper, I tried two recipes before and they both failed, definitely going to my recipe box
where can i find buttermilk in the US
I want to make this recipe so much (been to morocco twice, loved the country, and the food!) but I can’t find a brand for buttermilk in the US. do you have any recommendations?
Response from Moroccanzest
Hi Milla, I just updated the post with the brand I use: kate’s buttermilk. You can find it in many grocery stores in the US (I get mine from wholefoods and stop and shop). -xx
made it this weekend and had the first bite this Monday. It has nothing to do with other cheeses I had. Really delicious. thank you for the awesome recipe!
I went to Chefchaouen in 2018 and I bought it there. Amazing taste, loved it and I will try your recipe next week. Thanks for sharing it!
Response from Moroccanzest
Hi John, Chefchaouen has one of the best Jben cheese in Morocco. Can’t wait for you to try this recipe. Let me know how it goes! –xx