Feta Cheese

A slice of Greek diet

Feta, which in Greek apart from the particular cheese also means “slice”, is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece. Its flavor is tangy and salty, ranging from mild to sharp.

feta2Feta is traditionally categorized into “firm” and “soft” varieties of cheese, the former being tangier and considered of higher quality and the latter is so soft as to be almost spreadable, and is mostly used in pies. High-quality feta should have a creamy mouthfeel, and aromas of ewe’s milk, butter, and yogurt. In the mouth it is tangy, slightly salty, and mildly sour, with a spicy finish that recalls pepper and ginger, as well as a hint of sweetness.

Since 2002, feta has been a protected designation of origin product (PDO) in the European Union. According to the relevant EU legislation, only those cheeses produced in a traditional way in some areas of Greece (mainland and the island of Lesbos), and made from sheep milk, or from a mixture of sheep and goats’ milk (up to 30%) of the same area, may bear the name “feta”. According to the Commission, the biodiversity of the land coupled with the special breeds of sheep and goats used for milk is what gives feta cheese a specific aroma and flavor.

feta3Seeking the origin of feta in ancient Greece, we observe the first report of it in Homer’s Odyssey, and more specifically in the famous myth of Cyclops Polyphemus. According to the legend Polyphemus was the first manufacturer of cheese ever, since because of carrying the sheeps’ milk every day stored in animal skins, he found to his great surprise that after a few days the milk became solid and edible. Feta cheese is also recorded in the Byzantine Empire under the name “prósphatos”, which in Greek means “recent” or “fresh”, and was associated specifically with Crete.

Feta is a table cheese, and is also used in salads (e.g. the Greek salad), pastries and in baking, notably in the popular phyllo-based dishes spanakopita (“spinach pie”) and tyropita (“cheese pie”), or served with some olive oil or olives and sprinkled with aromatic herbs such as oregano. It can also be served cooked or grilled, as part of a sandwich, in omelettes, or as a salty alternative to other cheeses in a variety of dishes.

feta_honeyMLGFB Tip:

How to make a delicious appetizer with feta, honey and phyllo (about 6 serves)

Ingredients: 500 grams feta cheese, 6 sheets phyllo pastry, some extra-virgin olive oil, 100 ml honey, 1 handful sesame seeds

Preparation:

  • Cut feta into 1cm-thick slices
  • Brush each phyllo pastry sheet with olive oil
  • Wrap each square of feta in a pastry sheet.
  • Heat 4cm vegetable oil in a pan and deep-fry squares until golden all over.
  • Drain on kitchen paper
  • Serve drizzled with honey and scattered with sesame seeds
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