Guide to Cheese Types
Greek Cheese - Cheese Guide
June 12, 2019 | By Dave Mattingly
Greece is known for its people's love of cheese, and cheesemaking there is an ancient art. It is estimated that Greek Cheese making originated approximately 4,000 years ago, as mythology pinpoints Aristaios, the son of Apollo, as the god that delivered the secret of cheese to mankind. In the 8th Century BCE, Homer's literary masterpiece, The Odyssey even mentions making sheep's and goat's milk Greek Cheese. Greek love of cheese has endured, and today, Greece has the highest per capita consumption of cheese in the world with each Greek citizen consuming on average 55 pounds of cheese per year.
Due to Greece's craggy, mountainous terrain being unhospitable to cows, most Greek Cheese is made from sheep's or goat's milk. Cheese is an important part of the Greek diet since beef and pork is mostly imported and therefore expensive. Greek Cheese making is an easier way for the typical Greek farmer to make a living, as cheese keeps better than milk and is relatively inexpensive to produce. There are many types of Greek Cheese, and each region is known for its own local cheese styles.
Our list of Greek Cheese types includes Barrel-Aged Greek Feta, Myzithra, Manouri, Kasseri and many more. Greek Cheese is excellent in salads, but please don't limit them to the realm of salad cheeses. Saganaki is a meze or Greek Appetizer while Myzithra is a grating alternative to hard Italian cheeses.. Most Greek Cheeses are excellent served as table cheeses as well, pairing well with white wines. To find Greek Cheese and the best gourmet foods and gift baskets online, begin your search at igourmet.com.
Types of Greek Cheese
Feta: Feta is the most famous Greek Cheese. Greek Feta is made primarily of sheep's milk, but it is acceptable to blend in up to 30% goat's milk. Feta is a white brined cheese made in rindless squares or blocks. Feta's brine both preserves and flavors the cheese. Barrel Aged Feta is stored in wooden barrels for a minimum of two months prior to repacking for consumers. Feta has a crumbly, slightly grainy texture that must be vacuum packed or covered in brine in order to retain its moist texture. Feta has a tangy, salty flavor and may be mild to sharp depending on its age. Greek Feta is well known for its use in salads, but is also a superb table cheese. In 2002, Feta received PDO (Designation of Protected Origin) status from the European Union, ensuring by law that Feta be made of sheep and goat's milk, only in defined regions of Greece (Macedonia, Thrace, Epirus, Thessalia, Sterea Hellas, Peloponissos and Mitilini island) under specific production guidelines. Feta-type cheeses produced anywhere else in the EU can no longer be called Feta, they must now be called the more generic name of White Brined Cheese.
Graviera: This hard yet mild cheese is made on the Greek island of Crete. Aged for a minimum of five months, Graviera is made from sheep's milk or a blend of sheep's and goat's milk. Produced in wheels, Graviera cheese has a sweet nutty flavor. Graviera is excellent for shredding, for use in cooking, or fried in the appetizer dish known as Saganaki.
Kasseri: Kasseri is a semi-hard cheese made from a blend of sheep's and goat's milk. Kasseri is pale yellow in color and has a mild tangy flavor with a springy texture. Kasseri is slightly salty and, like many sheep's milk cheeses, a bit oily in texture. We think of it as a Greek Mozzarella and is, in fact, an excellent cheese to serve heated. Kasseri is a versatile cheese and is great in sandwiches, pizza or shredded over pasta or soup. Kasseri production takes place in the regions of Macedonia, Thessalia, Mitilini island and Xanthi.
Kefalotiri: Kefalotiri, or Kefalotyri, is a tangy, sharp sheep's milk cheese. This hard cheese from Greece is salty and nutty in flavor. Harder and saltier than Kasseri, Kefalotiri is an ideal table cheese, but is also excellent cooked into main dishes and pastries, or fried in Saganaki. Kefalotiri comes from the regions of Macedonia, Sterea Hellas, Peloponissos, Thessalia, Crete island, Epirus, lonian islands and Cyclades islands
Myzithra: Aged Myzithra, made famous by the Cheesecake Factory, is a grating alternative to hard Italian cheeses. This traditional Greek whey cheese (made from whey rather than curd) has been manufactured in Greece for thousands of years. Myzithra can be made from any blending ratio of sheep's, goat's and/or cow's milk. It comes from the regions of Macedonia, Thrace, Thessalia, Sterea Hellas, Peloponissos, Ionian islands, Aegean island and Crete island.
Manouri: Another Greek whey cheese, Manouri is exclusively produced in central and western Macedonia and in Thessalia. Made from pure sheep's or goat's milk or a blend thereof, its creamy texture comes from the addition of milk and/or cream early in the cheese making process. Manouri is a soft, spreadable cheese with a texture similar to French Chevre, but with a uniquely Greek tang.
To find Greek Cheese and the best gourmet foods and gift baskets online, begin your search at igourmet.com.