Milk has been a very important staple in Setomaa. In the old days, fresh milk was mainly fed to children, and used in braised grain dishes and white bread dough. Fermented milk played an important role, and was a beverage preferred by older people. In the summers, fermented milk was also used in cold soups. Butter was a luxury and was consumed during major celebrations. At other times, butter was kept in a barrel in rock salt or brine.
The most important dairy product in Setomaa was curds, because it was less perishable. Curds was also salted and placed in barrels for winter. Salted curds were an everyday food all year round.
Curds would also be brought as guest’s presents. A portion of curds would be mixed with a little of sour cream and placed in a clay bowl. A thick layer of butter would be spread on top. Salted curds were used in this dish as well. Curds with butter was a ritual wedding food. Coins meant as gifts for the newlyweds were customarily placed on or in the dish.
Curds were also taken to church to be blessed and it is the main ingredient in making sõir – homemade pressed cheese.