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Feta cheese and other cheese
What is Feta cheese?

Feta cheese is the most famous Greek cheese that is exclusively made of sheep’ milk or a blend of sheep’s with goat’s milk (the goat’s milk may comprise 0-30%). Feta cheese has a light brackish and subacid flavour and a natural white colour. It is stored in brine or in whey for approximately 3 months. As soon as it is removed from the brine, feta cheese loses all its fluids and becomes solid. It is usually stored in large square pieces.

Is Feta cheese a Greek cheese?

Yes. There is proof that feta cheese was produced even in Ancient Greek scripts, such as in the “Odyssey” of Homer.

What is its difference from “white cheese” that issold outside of Greece?

Until its recent listing, Feta cheese was produced under this name also in other countries, while feta cheese of cow’s milk was also widely spread. As of its listing, however, as a PDO product, any cheese that contains cow’s milk or that has not been produced in Greece is prohibited from being called feta cheese. Many producers in other countries (Denmark, France, Germany) that named their products Feta cheese based on cow’s milk, were forced to cease production or to rename their products (e.g. white cheese).

Is there Feta cheese with cow’s milk?

No. Feta cheese is produced exclusively from cow’s and goat’s milk, with listed production specifications and proportions between the two qualities of milk.

Which areas produce Feta cheese?

Feta cheese is produced in the areas of Macedonia, Thrace, Epirus, Thessaly, Central Greece, the Peloponnese and on the island of Lesvos (Mytilini). The area affects the hardness, flavour, aroma and the rest of feta cheese attributes, as well as its quality accordingly. Therefore, we may find it in various forms, from hard to very soft, with differences in its flavour and fat (30% to 60%, while the average is around 45%).

Is Feta cheese a PDO product?

Feta cheese has been listed by the European Union as a protected designation of origin product (PDO). This means that the name “Feta” cannot be used for any cheese of a similar composition that is produced outside of Greece or with a procedure other than the traditional one. The European Union has issued a legislation to protect products of local origin and this was enforced in 1996.

Is Feta cheese a natural product?

Absolutely. Depending on the case, it can be characterised as an organic product when made from the milk of animals that are raised in pastures in areas where insecticides, pesticides or other pollutants are not used.

What is barrel Feta cheese?

Feta cheese is distinguished between that stored in a barrel and that stored in a metal container. In the former, the product matures inside wooden barrels after previously been cut in semi-circles. Due to its porous texture, wood allows cheese to breathe and gives it richness and maturity. Feta cheese from the barrel is usually available in triangle wedge-shaped pieces and is preferred by locals of central Greece and the Peloponnese. In other parts of Greece and especially in Epirus, Thessaly and Macedonia where the greatest quantities are produced, we encounter feta cheese in long narrow blocks that mature and are preserved in metal containers. The metal container is widely used in these areas for practical reasons, because storage and distribution is more practical and does not require the return of the highly expensive wooden barrel.

How is Feta cheese packed?

Feta cheese is packed and offered mainly in brine inside metal containers (4-14 kg). Smaller quantities are packed in plastic containers with brine (400 gr. – 4 kg.) or in vacuum packages without brine (200gr. – 2kg).
Last, barrel feta cheese is available in 30 kg. wooden or plastic barrels, but also in smaller packages (plastic containers, vacuum).

What is the shelf-life of Feta cheese?

• Feta cheese in plastic container: 6 months once opened
• Feta cheese in container: 12 months from production date
• Feta cheese in vacuum packages: 14 months from production date

How can Feta cheese be served?

The use of Feta cheese is widely known throughout the world as a main ingredient of the Greek salad. Apart from in Greek salad, it is consumed as a table cheese and in the form of saganaki (fried feta cheese that has been floured), while it is used in cheese pies, as filling for vegetables and in many other ways.

How is Feta cheese produced?

First it is gathered and concentrated and then it is pasteurised. Following pasteurisation, the milk is cooled at 34-36oC and lactic substances are added so that coagulation can be achieved within 45-60 minutes. The curd is then left immobile and then it is churned and finally placed in approximately 2kg metal blocks where the curd is strained at a temperature of 16-18oC. The blocks are turned upwards and thick salt is added to the curd’s surface until the following day, so that any excessive whey is removed. The next day, the cheese is removed from the blocks and temporarily placed in open barrels or containers and salted in layers. After 2-3 days, the blocks of cheese are finally placed in barrels or in tin containers; they are covered in brine at 7oC and transferred to a chamber at 16-18oC where they are left for 10-15 days until the first stage of their maturing process has completed. They are then transferred to cooling chambers at 2-5oC for at least 2 months as of their production date, which is when their maturing process has completed and, in accordance with the law, they are ready for consumption.

Does Greece produce other traditional cheese?

Greece produces an exceptionally wide range of cheeses. Some of them are: Anevato, Galotyri, Gruyere (of Agrafa and the islands of Crete and Naxos), Kalathaki of the island of Lemnos, Katiki of Domokos, Kefalograviera, Kopanisti, Ladotyri, Manouri, Metsovone, Batzos, Xynomyzithra of Crete, Pichtogalo of Chania, San Michali, Sfela, Formaella of Arachova, and more.

What is Halumi?

Halumi is a cheese originating from Cyprus and the East Meditteranean. It is traditionally made with a blend of goat’s milk and sheep’s milk; however, it may also contain cow’s milk (sometimes it is made only of cow’s milk). It is white in colour and has a form similar to mozzarella and a brackish flavour . Traditional halumi has a semi-circular shape and weighs 220-270 gr. It contains approximately 25% fat (47% dry weight). Each block is wrapped in vacuum packs or in brine inside metal containers.

Is halumi eaten cooked?

Halumi is used in cooking, since it can be fried or cooked without melting, because its melting point is higher than the usual one. It may also be served (fried or grilled) with vegetables in salads or even eaten as it is (raw).

Is halumi a PDO product?

Halumi comes from Cyprus. However, because of the cultural diversity in the area of the East Mediterranean, there are arguments as to which country should benefit from its listing. Therefore, at the moment, halumi is produced in various countries of the world. It is only in the US that halumi has been listed as a protected Cypriot product (since the 1990s).
Halumi has not yet been listed in the European Committee as a PDO product, because of the, amongst others, dispute between producers and livestock farmers about whether halumi should contain cow’s milk or not (and in what proportions together with goat’s and sheep’s milk).

What is the shelf-life of halumi?

Up to one year if frozen (below -18oC (0oF). It is then defrosted and preserved at +4oC (39oF) and sold in supermarkets. Halumi usually contains mint, which, apart from flavour, has a natural antibacterial effect, which was in the past useful in preserving the cheese for a longer period of time.


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