What is Feta Cheese?

Although Greek cuisine utilizes many different kinds of cheeses, feta is by far the most popular. Thoughversions of it are made in other countries, the real feta cheese is only made in Greece. It is used in savory dishes, eaten by itself, and even used in some desserts. It’s truly a special cheese, but what is it really? Here’s more information about it:

How Feta Cheese is Made

In Greece, feta cheese is made from sheep’s milk or a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk. A maximum of 30% is goat’s milk. Feta is either made in small cheese dairies where traditional methods are applied, orin larger facilities where traditional methods are respected and applied. Feta is an artisan type of cheese and not easy to produce. Milk is collected and brought to the dairy where the milk must coagulate within two days of collection.

Because of health concerns, the milk used in the large industrial facilities is pasteurized. For this reason, the only additives allowed in feta cheese are calcium chloride and lactic acid starter cultures. The coagulated milk is then cut into small cubes and placed in molds. These molds allow for drainage. Once that process is complete, the cheese is placed temporarily in metal containers or wooden barrels where it is salted in layers. It is then matured 14-20 days in brine. A second maturation takes places for two months in a refrigeratorat 1-3 degreesCelsius.

Cheeses from Macedonia, Thrace, Thessaly, Central Mainland Greece, Peloponnese, and Lesvos can be labeled as authentic feta. Many other countries do produce and export feta cheese, and will even use Greek language and symbols related to Greece on the packaging, but this does not mean it’s authentic feta cheese.

History of Feta Cheese

The earliest records of cheesemaking can be found in Homer’s “Odyssey.” The cheese mentioned is considered feta’s ancestor. It’s thought the production of feta has been known since that time. According to Greek mythology, the art of cheese making was bestowed on mortals by the gods of Olympus. The first time feta cheese was mentioned was during the Byzantine times. It was called “prosphatos,” which translates to recent or fresh and is associated with Crete. During the 17thcentury, the word “feta” was first used by the Greeks. During the 20thcentury, feta became more frequently introduced to the rest of the world as there was a large emigration of Greeks to Germany, the United States, Canada, and Australia.

Ways Feta Cheese is Used

Feta is a popular table cheese. It can be used on everything from salads to stews. Feta can also be found in the well-known Greek spanakopita and Greek cheese pie. Feta cheese can also be preserved in olive oil, which has been done in the Mediterranean especially as olive oil is cheap and plentiful. Garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and herbs make preserved feta even more delicious and can be used for dipping and salads. Feta is a component of the Mediterranean diet and the most loved cheese in Greece.

Feta isone of the most important exports of Greece to the rest of the world. Authentic feta cheese will give you a real taste of the country from which it comes.