Traditional feta

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Traditional feta

For centuries, the Greek cheese feta has been made from pure sheep’s milk, or sheep’s milk mixed with a maximum of 30% goat’s milk. The name comes from the Greek fetas, meaning “thinly sliced piece,” and refers to the cutting of the cheese during production. It also used to be known as tsantila cheese, from the name of the cloth used to drain the whey from the curds. Made in Thessaly, Epirus, Thrace, Macedonia, the Peloponnese, in the central part of Greece and on the island of Lesbos, it is universally considered the Greek cheese most representative of the country’s age-old dairy traditions, and in 1994 it obtained a PDO.   After the milk has been curdled, the traditional production technique involves placing the curds inside molds and pressing them with a weight double the weight of the curds to drain the whey. Once the curds have been dried, they are dry-salted. The cheese is then cut into pieces weighing 1 to 2 kilos and placed in brine-filled wooden barrels (ténékédès in Greek) with a capacity of 20 to 50 kilos. The cheese then ages for at least two months. During this time, the cheese is kept for a month at a temperature of around 12°C, which is then lowered for the remaining period to around 2-6°C.   The feta is kept immersed in brine until ready to be consumed. The paste is compact, with no rind or holes, and is easily crumbled by hand. The flavor is slightly acidic and the fragrance is rich with aromas from the pasture grasses and herbs. Feta can be eaten in salads or other traditional dishes, like spanakopita (a savory phyllo pie filled with vegetables, feta, onions and egg), or on its own. The special taste attributes of the feta cheese made in barrels makes it attractive for a portion of consumers despite its high price. However, this artisanal product is being pushed into a smaller portion of the market as it competes with industrially made feta, which can be sold for cheaper to consumers in large quantities at supermarkets.  

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Milk and milk products

Nominated by:Dimitra Gaki