Feta cheese has been around Greece for thousands of years. It holds a very special place in the Greeks’ hearts. It is one of the most, if not the most, exported product from Greece, it is globally recognizable for its origin.
In order for the white crumbly cheese to be called ‘feta’, it has to be made exclusively from sheep’s milk or from a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk, the goat milk cannot exceed 30% of the mixture. Depending on the flavor, the fat contained ranges from 30% to 60%, the average fat content is about 45%. After the milk is pasteurized, a lactic acid starter culture is added to separate the whey from the curds, which are made of the protein casein. Then, rennet is added to set the casein.
Once this process has been completed, the curd is then shaped by draining the whey and placing the curd into molds for 24 hours. Once the curd has firmed up, it is cut into cubes, salted and placed in wooden barrels or metal containers. After this step the blocks of cheese are placed in a salted solution and refrigerated for two months. Then the feta cheese is ready to go!
Feta cheese has been registered by the European Commission as a protected designation of origin (PDO). This means it should only come from certain prefectures of Greece and only from certain sheep and goat breeds. This means that the name ‘feta’ can no longer be used on cheeses of a similar composition made outside of the specific areas of Greece. It should come as no surprise that Greece is the first country in the world in the consumption of cheese products, with the Greeks consuming more than 30 kilograms of cheese per year.