Is there any other type of cheese that comes to mind when you hear Greek cheeses? Feta is the type of cheese that most people recall before any other.
But did you know that although feta is registered as traditionally Greek other countries also produce it? And very well too, as in other countries produce extremely delicious feta cheese too?
Bits and pieces on feta
In Greece, cheese artisans have been producing feta for thousands of years. That is how far back this type of cheese goes.
There is even evidence in the museum of Delphi that points to feta being produced more than 8,000 years ago, and even more interesting is that not much has changed in the production process, except for automation and packaging techniques. Thank you, modern world!
In translation, feta literally means slice, but the word today is associated with brine cheese produced in Greece from sheep and goat milk. The ancient Greeks did not call this cheese feta though. They called it simply cheese.
The name feta was first used in the 17th century to describe the practice of slicing up cheese for barrels, and since the 19th century, it has been used to refer to the Greek cheese now made and sold everywhere in the world.
Thanks to the mass migration of Greeks to the United States in the 20th century, we too can now enjoy this salty, tangy, creamy, crumbly cheese.
Feta, however, is also produced in countries like France and Israel and in other parts of Europe. It is even made right here in the United States. Depending on the country of origin and on what milk is used, feta can be very different from one another.
Greek feta is undoubtedly a preferred variety. Traditionally this is made from sheep’s milk with only a little goat’s milk and is pure white in color, rich and creamy, with a buttery texture, definitely amazing tasting! Some producers choose to blend in more goats’ milk, which makes for a more crumbly cheese.
In the U.S., unfortunately, only about 2% of the available feta comes from Greece. For authentic Greek feta look to see if P.D.O. certified, P.D.O. standing for Protected Designation of Origin, which is the European Union regulation that ensures feta was made in Greece.
Bulgarian feta called sirene or white brine sirene is a type of cheese traditional to the Balkans and made in Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro, and in Israel among other countries. Most of the Bulgarian feta found in New York City is creamy and soft with lemony flavor and strong aroma.
This feta isn’t as hard as the Greek variety and can be made from goat’s, cow’s or sheep’s milk, although often it is a combination of these types of milks. Bulgarian feta is many times used in baking.
French feta is less briny than Bulgarian and Greek feta and is most often made from sheep’s milk, although some French cheese mongers make goat’s milk feta too. The sheep variety is mild and creamy while the goat version slightly drier.
French feta is a great spread for crusty bread and is often served with roasted vegetables.