Thermiotiko tiri, tiri kythnou
Thermiotiko tiri, tiri kythnouThermiotiko tiri (also known as tiri kythnou) is a goat’s milk cheese from the island of Kithnos, located southeast of Athens. It is white and soft and can be found both crumbled or as a whole cheese. It is made by the island’s inhabitants with the milk from twenty to thirty small goatherds, which graze on the island grass. After milking, the milk is left to rest at room temperature (or, in winter, it is gently heated). It is then poured into small containers with rennet, where it rests for 7-10 hours, thus acquiring a slightly sour taste. At this stage, the curd is called “sour.” At a second stage, 5-10 kg jute bags are filled with the curd, and then hung on hooks to let the water drain. Once the right texture is achieved, the cheese is taken out of the bags and worked on tables with the addition of salt. Small, layered cheeses are formed, and part of the curd is made into crumbles. The cheese is then placed in layers inside tins or, traditionally, clay jars. The layers are pressed to avoid the presence of air, and each layer is seasoned with salt from the island. The name comes from ancient Greek kytinos, a clover that apparently comes from the island of Cythnos in the Aegean Sea, where it probably grew in abundance. The production method of this cheese has remained unchanged for thousands of years. Thermiotiko was mentioned as a refined and expensive product by ancient authors such as Aristotle in his “History of animals,” and Pliny, who praised the pure white color and the delicious taste of kythnos tyros. It was served at the banquets of Egyptian aristocrats in the 3rd century BC, and at the time of the Roman Empire, all the cheese produced was shipped to Rome. Today, however, this cheese risks disappearing, because very few people on the island still produce it, and it is often made for home consumption.