It is a popular option as table cheese, and is a favored ingredient in making salads, in baking and pastries. The traditional Greek salad is considered to be incomplete with a few small-cut cubes of their indigenous feta cheese.
Feta cheese is usually white in color, with a tangy and salty flavor and a hardness that can range from soft to semi-hard. Due to its higher humidity, soft feta is rich in aroma sweeter, less spicy and less salty. The hard feta is saltier and spicier, and has a stronger flavor and odor.
The cheese crumbles easily, and has a high fat content, which can be up to 60 per cent. It is a preferred cheese for people averse or allergic to cow’s milk. Prepared by salting and curing the cheese in a brine solution (based on water or whey), it dries out quickly when it is removed from the brine. Feta cheese takes about two months to mature. It is a solid mass cheese which has no rind with a few uneven holes.
The earliest record of feta cheese dates back to the Byzantine Empire. It has bgeen associated closely with Crete, located in present day Greece. An Italian traveler to the city of Candia makes express mention of the curing processes in brine cellars in his writings dated 1494.
The word "feta" has an interesting genealogy. It comes from the Italian word fetta (meaning slice). Fetta, in turn, is of Latin origin from offa (meaning bite or morsel). It first appeared in Greek language in the 17th century, possibly referring to the process of serving the cheese by cutting it in thin slices. Many, however, attribute a Classical Greek origin to feta cheese. According to myth, the Cyclops Polyfimos was the first to have prepared it. In the museum of Delphi, 6th century BC artifacts also make references to the process of feta cheese-making.
Like the world-famous Camembert cheese, feta cheese in 2005 also managed to secure a “protected designation of origin” in the European Union, and it defined as having a minimum of 70% sheep's milk, with the rest being goat’s milk. Greece had to fight a protracted legal battle to secure the same, as a variety of pasteurized cow’s milk cheese was in circulation in Denmark under the same name.
Varieties to the Greek feta cheese are to be found in many of the Balkan countries as well as the Mediterranean region. While the indigenous varieties are called ‘feta’ in some countries, it is not necessarily the same everywhere. Feta cheese is also a known cure for bouts of food poisoning. Amongst its nutritional benefits, one can count on its high Calcium and Vitamin A count.
How to make Homemade Feta Cheese
Ingredients for feta cheese recipe:
- 1 gallon fresh goats milk
- (cows milk may work as well)
- 1 tablespoon fresh yogurt
- -1+ gallon pot (must have lid)
How to make feta recipe:
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