The Feta Cheese Challenge

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Be Funky

Did you know that cheese, like wine, have protected designation of origins (PDO’s)?  A protected designation of origin in the EU is defined by the name of an area, a specific place or, the name of a country. It is  a designation for an agricultural product or food.

Since 2002, after a long legal battle with Denmark,  which produced a cheese with the same name but used chemically blanched cow’s milk, feta has been a PDO product. The name “feta”  is limited within the European Union to only the brined cheese made exclusively  in Greece. Protected by EU legislations, only those cheeses from  Macedonia, Thrace, Thessaly, Central Mainland Greece, the Peloponnese and Lesvos can be called—feta. Similar cheeses produced elsewhere outside the EU are often referred to simply as ‘white cheese’.  In 2013, Canada agreed that feta made in Canada would be called “feta style” cheese, and would not depict on the label anything referring to Greece. We still await similar guidelines in other markets such as the USA.


feta-1

made in Greece

To create traditional feta,  the goat’s/sheep’s milk is acquired from the animals grazing on pastures in the specific appellation of origin regions. It is salted and cured in a brine solution of either water or whey for a minimum of a week to several months. This method is a sort of pickling.  Feta has a high salt content, close to 5% where most cheeses contain fewer than 2%.

Since Feta dries out rapidly when removed from the brine, it should always be protected from exposure to air to avoid it drying out, causing the taste to sharpen or sour. For everyday storage, cover your Feta in water (or a mix of half water/half milk) to keep it fresher longer and remove excessive salt. With regular changing of the water, the Feta becomes less salty.  If you want the salt to remain, simply store your barrel-aged feta wrapped in a lightweight paper and then wrapped again in plastic wrap tightly to keep out air. There is no problem if moisture builds in the wrapper.  For longer storage, you can ‘marinate’ it in olive oil by placing chunks of feta in glass jars to 1/2 inch of the top and covering completely with olive oil. Then just seal tightly and store, and do not refrigerate. This method of store may be good for use in some recipes or in salad. One can even add herbs if a flavored feta is desired.  Feta can also be frozen, but the texture will change. Wrap in airtight plastic before freezing to keep odors out. Once defrosted, use this feta to crumble on salads or in cooked dishes, rather than as slices as the taste and consistency changes slightly. Once it is  defrosted, it must be used immediately, or stored once again in brine or oil.  Do not refreeze.

Greece’s most popular cheese, Feta has about 70% of the total cheese market in our Greek cheese consumption.  We know at Hellenic Lifestyle is how delicious feta cheese is whether presented on a dish alone, or as an ingredient in many recipes. Two of our most traditional ways to enjoy  feta featuring is baked into  tyropita (cheese pie), or atop a fresh horiatiki (traditional Greek village) salad. We, however,  want to cook up something different—a unique worldly adaptation of the cheese that we identify with.

Cheese Pies

Greek salad

We are throwing down a challenge to all Greeks and Philhellenes.

Give us your best recipe that includes Feta.

It can be traditional, modern, unique, or classic. If you don’t have a recipe but can share some facts or something interesting send that!!!

Come on all you home cooks, professional chefs, sommeliers, restauranteurs, cheese artisans ….let’s show everyone how to best use this GREEK cheese.

Say it loud and proud—Feta is Greek!

We challenge you!

1 Comment

  1. Bex

    January 13, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    I love feta in bean soup! Or with stuffed tomatoes and peppers.

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