Greek Feta Cheese

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The Greeks eat the most cheese in Europe - figures show that 25kg per person is eaten every year here - so I decided that it would be appropriate to start a series of posts on Greek cheeses. I am a great lover of cheese and the variety and quality of cheeses in Greece is terrific.

I'm going to start with the best-known - Feta.

This traditionally dates back to the Homeric ages and Aristaeus has been credited with its discovery. In Homer's Odyssey the Cyclops is described as making and storing sheep's and goat's milk cheese. The following is from Samuel Butler's translation -

"We soon reached his cave, but he was out shepherding, so we went inside and took stock of all that we could see. His cheese-racks were loaded with cheeses, and he had more lambs and kids than his pens could hold...

When he had so done he sat down and milked his ewes and goats, all in due course, and then let each of them have her own young. He curdled half the milk and set it aside in wicker strainers."

Of the 25kg cheese eaten per person per year in Greece, 12kg is Feta! It is a white soft to semi-hard cheese, ripened and kept in brine for at least three months. Manufactured mainly in mountainous and semi-mountainous regions of Greece where the use of any harmful substances (fertilisers, pesticides etc.) is very scarce, it is distributed to the market in barrels, tin boxes or in the form of plastic-wrapped pieces.

Greek feta production is restricted to primarily sheep milk and some goat milk, while other countries use cow milk in the process. These countries also use coloring agents to change the yellowish tint produced from cow’s milk to a pure whiter form of goat and sheep milk. The subsistence of these goat and sheep is specific to the dry climatic conditions of certain regions in Greece, where there is a particular type of grazing. The methods of production are also unique to Greece.

It is used as a table cheese (see photo below, served with olive oil and oregano), as well as in salads, pastries and in baking.




4 comments:

Christa Bledsoe said...

I tried this kind of cheese and sadly my tongue doesn't like it. I do want to try other greek foods though ;)

Poetic Shutterbug said...

I love feta cheese. I also like Kasseri but it is difficult to find.

The Salty Chef said...

Very nice detailed post about Feta cheese, it is a delicious and delicate cheese that goes so well with virtually any dish from Pasta to salads.

Arabella McIntyre-Brown said...

Feta and thick, creamy yoghurt from Varsos in Kifissia are among my first and favourite memories of Greece. Although I can buy Greek feta in most cities, now, it's just not the same as Greek feta bought and eaten in Greece...

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