Ġbejna (plural ġbejniet) are cheeselets made in the Maltese Islands from goat’s or sheep milk, salt and rennet. In both Malta and the neighbouring island of Gozo virtually all sheep milk and most goat milk is used for production of these cheeselets, much of it through family-owned cottage industries. They are prepared and served in a variety of forms: pickled, salted, peppered, covered in herbs, dried, or as a plain, fresh cheeselet. Legend has it that earlier generations used sea water, rather than rennet, as a curdling agent.
Prior to Malta's accession to the European Union, the EU accepted Malta's request to protect the traditional Maltese ġbejna, along with the traditional variant of ricotta.
Ġbejniet are a key element of Maltese cuisine. They are used as an ingredient in the traditional Maltese form of minestrone soup, soppa tal-armla (widow’s soup). They are also served with the fresh, local sourdough bread (ħobża tal-Malti) or unleavened bread (ftira) for breakfast, and are a staple component in the ubiquitous Maltese appetizer platter, along with bigilla, a savoury spread or dip based on dried broad beans, sun-dried or fresh tomatoes, capers, olives, Maltese sausage, traditional Maltese water crackers, Kapunata and grilled vegetables. Lately, Maltese restaurants have revived the custom of using ġbejniet rather than ricotta cheese as a filling for qassatat and ravioli (ravjul).
Ġbejniet are formed in cheese hurdles made of local, dried reeds, although now plastic ones are used. They are traditionally dried in small ventilated rooms, with windows protected by a special mesh mosquito net.