Not many foods can boast about a history that dates back over 2000 years, but every time you buy feta you will be eating a cheese as familiar to “Homer” and “Alexander the Great” as it is at home in a modern day salad.
Greece ( today and yesterday ) produces exceptional cheese such as Feta, Kaseri, Graviera, Kefalotiri, Myzithra and Metsovone. These cheeses vary. Some of these cheeses are found throughout the country, while others are locally produced for local consumption.
The most famous is of course the FETA, a pickled curd cheese that has a salty and tangy taste enhanced by the brine solution.
It requires 30 percent goat’s milk mixed with sheep’s milk of animals grazing on pastures in the specific appellation of origin.
Upon maturation, feta is cured and aged in wooden oak barrels acquiring a rich peppery taste that is appreciated by true “feta” connoisseurs.
The texture of the cheese is compact, slightly crumbly and creamy and its flavor is creamy, slightly tangy and it tastes like sweet milk.
Used widely in many Greek dishes and is the basic ingredient served over Greek ( Horiatiki) salad. The FETA cheese is used in spinach pies, baked in oven and/or slightly fried in olive oil “referred to as saganaki” but also used in many other recipes produced exclusively in Greece.
Greek cheese with a
protected designation of origin (PDO)
Since 2002, FETA is a protected designation of origin product in the European Union and according to the EU legislation, only those cheeses produced in a traditional way in particular areas of Greece, which are made from sheep’s milk, or from a mixture of sheep’s and up to 30% of goat’s milk from the same area, can be called feta.
However, you will find other similar white, brined cheeses on the market today, but never labeled as FETA cheese and are referred to as “white cheese”.
So when buying FETA cheese look for the PDO label, so you know you are buying the “authentic” FETA cheese produced exclusively and only in Greece.