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Fri Aug 03, 2012 2:29 pmForum Host
According to Greek mythology, Aristaios, son of Apollo and Cyrene, was sent by the gods to give the gift of cheese-making to the Greeks. It was called a "gift of everlasting value," and if the reputation of today's variety of Greek cheeses is anything to go by, the value of that gift keeps increasing with age.
All Greeks adore Greek cheese - Tiri. Greek people love to eat cheese at all times of the day. They will eat it on its own, as an appetizer, or as a meze with drinks. They will eat it plain, cooked, fried as Saganaki, fresh with fruit and honey, or aged.
Cheese is not just a food to have at the end of a meal. It is a food that is cherished and included on a regular basis in the Greek diet. There are no fussy rules over when or how one should eat it, in which order of the meal or with or without other certain food groups. Greeks unashamedly love their cheese and eat it with a passion.
Greek cheese is fried, as in Saganaki. It's used as a filling for pies, tiropita - cheese pie is the most popular snack in Greece. Its grated on pasta or over sauces such as bechamel. It's used in savoury dishes as well as sweets, added to tarts, desserts and Greek cheese cake.
A slab of feta drizzled with olive oil, is the original meze to go with a drink of Ouzo. Greek cheese makes ideal table cheese, to have as an appetizer or a snack with fruit and honey. Feta can be crumbled over Greek salad, added to stuffed vegetables, or omelette.
Due to the low consumption of animal meats, which were both expensive and of limited supply, cheese played a more prominent role in Greek cuisine, replacing meat as a regular table food
One will sometimes find one type of Greek cheese known by a totally different name in the rest of Greece.
Many Greek cheeses have earned protection under the European Union's PDO - Protected Denomination of Origin or are listed under CDO - Controlled Denomination of Origin.
Here are a few of the most prominent and popular Greek cheeses:
Anevato is a cheese produced in both Grevena and in Kozani from ewes’ milk, goats’ milk or a combination of both. It is a soft, grainy cheese, white in colour, with a pleasant taste and aroma, without shape, rind or holes, usually served with a spoon.
Anthotiros is traditional Greek whey cheese with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO). It has been manufactured in Greece for many centuries from whey of ewe’s and goat’s milk or mixtures, with the addition of small quantities of milk and/or cream, in the regions of Macedonia, Thrace, Thessalia, Sterea Hellas, Peloponissos, Ionian islands, Aegean islands, Kriti island and Epirus. There are two types of Anthotiros : Fresh and Dried. The fresh anthotiros is soft and mild, unsalted, a great cheese to be eaten on its own or with fruit and honey - often as a breakfast, and is also used as a filling for pies and pastries. Dried anthotiros is a hard cheese, with a rich taste and is ideal for grating or in cooking.
Batzos cheese is produced in the regions of Western and Central Macedonia and Thessaly from sheep milk, goat milk or a combination of both. Batzos gets its name from the Vlach word for the mountain huts in which this cheese used to be made in and it’s also a PDO-protected product.
It is a salty, semi-hard to hard cheese which matures and is preserved in brine. It has a pleasant, acescent and slightly peppery and very salty taste. It has no external rind and is covered by small irregular holes. It is white or off-white in color.
Batzos is often enjoyed in the style of “saganaki”, that is to say it’s fried in the two-handled vessel and often flambeed with Tsipouro (local eau de vie) or brandy and finished with a good squeeze of lemon.
Feta is the most famous traditional Greek cheese, dating back to the Homeric ages. It is a white soft cheese, ripened and kept in brine for at least two months. It has been and still remains a significant part of Greek diet and its name is often connected with the Greek history and tradition. The average (per capita) annual consumption of Feta in Greece is more than 12 Kg, out of a total cheese consumption of 25 Kg, which is the highest in the world. Feta is a cheese with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO) manufactured from pure ewe's milk or a mixture with up to 30% of goat's milk in the regions of Macedonia, Thrace, Epirus, Thessalia, Sterea Hellas, Peloponissos and Mitilini island. It has salty, slightly acid taste. It has a unique crumbly texture, naturally very white. An extremely versatile cheese, use it as a table cheese, fried in saganaki, crumbled in Greek salad, as part of a meze, in cheese pies, or many other meals.
FORMAELLA OF PARNASSOS
Formaella of Parnassos is traditional Greek cheese with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO) It is manufactured from ewe’s or goat’s milk or mixtures, in the region of Arachova at the foot of the Parnassos mountain. It is a hard cheese with piquant taste and rich flavor which is consumed as table cheese after ripening for at least for 3 months. It is also consumed fresh as “saganaki” (shallow-fried cheese).
Galotiri is one of the oldest traditional cheese of Greece with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO). It is manufactured from ewe’s or goat’s milk or mixtures in the regions of Epirus and Thessalia. It has a soft and spreadable texture with sourish and very pleasant refreshing taste and is consumed as table cheese.
GRAVIERA OF CRETE
Graviera of Crete is traditional Greek cheese with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO) which is exclusively manufactured in Crete from ewe's milk or mixtures with small quantities of goat's milk. It is ripened for at least for 5 months. Graviera of Crete is a high quality hard cheese of propionic fermentation with a slightly sweet taste and very pleasant organoleptic properties. It is consumed as table cheese.
GRAVIERA OF NAXOS
Graviera of Naxos is traditional Greek Cheese with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO). It is manufactured from cow's milk or mixtures of it with small quantities of ewe's or Goat's milk in the island of Naxos. It is a hard cheese of propionic fermentation which is ripened for at least for 3 months. It is considered to be a cheese of high quality with unique organoleptic properties and is consumed as table cheese.
KALATHAKI OF LIMNOS
Kalathaki of Limnos is traditional Greek cheese with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO). It is manufactured from ewe’s milk or mixtures with small quantities of goat’s milk in Limnos island. Kalathaki has soft texture, slightly sour and salty taste and pleasant organoleptic properties, similar to those of Feta cheese. It is consumed as table cheese, in Greek salad, in cheese-pastries and very often as “saganaki” (shallow-fried cheese).
Katiki is a creamy white cheese made from goat's milk or a combination of goat's and sheep's milk.
Katiki Domokou can be found commercially in Greek and Mediterranean markets, or ethnic grocers and cheese specialty shops. Serve katiki with bread or as a dip with appetizers and mezethes (it goes particularly well with white wine). Use it in stuffings calling for cheeses, with fruit, and in cheesecake recipes.
Kasseri is traditional Greek cheese, of “pasta filata” type, with controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO). It is manufactured from ewe’s milk or a mixture with goat’s milk in the regions of Macedonia, Thessalia, Mitilini island and Xanthi. Kasseri is a semi-hard cheese which is consumed as table cheese or used in the preparation of pizza.
Kefalograviera is one of the newer Greek cheeses.
Kefalograviera is traditional Greek hard cheese with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO) which is manufactured from ewe’s milk in the regions of Western Macedonia, Epirus, Etoloakarnania and Evritania. As the name of the cheese indicates, its flavor/aroma profile stands between Kefalotiri and Graviera cheese. It ripens at least for 3 months and is consumed as table cheese, grated cheese, and quite often as “saganaki” (shallow-fried cheese).
Kefalotiri is traditional Greek cheese with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO), the long history and name of which are intimately connected with the customs and dietary habits of the Greeks. It is manufactured from ewe's or goat's milk or mixture of the two in the regions of Macedonia, Sterea Hellas, Peloponissos, Thessalia, Crete island, Epirus, lonian islands and Cyclades islands. Kefalotiri is considered the ancestor of many hard Greek cheeses. It has a salty and piquant taste and a unique rich aroma which is obtained after ripening for at least 3 months. It is consumed as table cheese, grated cheese, in cheese-pastries and as saganaki (shallow-fried cheese).
Kopanisti is traditional Greek cheese with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO) which is exclusively manufactured in Cyclades islands from ewe’s, cow’s or goat’s milk or mixtures. The main characteristics of Kopanisti are the intense salty and piquant taste and the soft texture and rich flavor which approaches that of Roquefort. It has no external rind or coating, and is produced with an irregular shape. It is consumed as table cheese, in cheese-pastries and as a snack with wine and ouzo.
LADOTIRI OF MITILINI
Traditional Greek cheese with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO) which is exclusively manufactured in Mitilini island from ewe’s milk or mixture of it with goat’s milk. It is ripened for at least 3 months and is also known with the name “Kefalaki” (small head) due to its particular shape. The main characteristic of this traditional cheese is that is preserved in olive oil and this is the reason why is called Ladotiri (ladi=olive oil, tiri=cheese). It has strong flavor, hard texture with slightly salty taste and is mainly consumed as table cheese.
Manouri is the most exceptional traditional Greek whey cheese with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO). It is exclusively manufactured in Central and Western Macedonia and in Thessalia from whey derived from ewe’s or goat’s or mixture of them, with the addition of milk and/or cream (in larger percentages than these used for anthotiros), when making hard cheeses. Manouri is a soft cheese with unique taste and flavor.
Metsovone is traditional Greek cheese with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO). It is a hard smoked cheese, of “pasta filata” type, which is produced in the regions of Metsovo (Epirus) from where the name derives. Metsovone is considered as an excellent quality table cheese. It is manufactured from cow’s milk but mixtures with small quantities of ewe’s or goat’s milk are also used. It is ripened for at least 3 months.
Traditional Greek whey cheese with Controlled Denomination of Origin (CDO). It has been manufactured in Greece for thousands of years and is considered the ancestor of all Greek whey cheeses. Mizithra is manufactured from whey derived from ewe’s, goats’ or cows’ milk or mixtures of milks in the regions of Macedonia, Thrace, Thessalia, Sterea Hellas, Peloponissos, Ionian islands, Aegean island and Crete island. There are two types of Mizithra; Fresh Mizithra which is unsalted or slightly salted and consumed a few hours or days after its manufacture and Dried Mizithra which is salted, dried and consumed as grated cheese.
Touloumotyri is a goat cheese made throughout the Aegean. It is a moist cheese that takes its name from the goat hide (touloumi) in which it is ripened and stored. It is similar in texture to feta but sweeter because of the way it is cured. It is one of the oldest varieties of cheese in Greece.
Touloumotyri is a soft cheese that ranges in color from very white to a pinkish color, depending on the level of acidity. The pinker the color, the higher the acidity. Touloumotyri can be used wherever feta is used; however, it is not in great supply.
If you would like to suggest additional cheeses, recommend a recipe or to share a story, please feel free!
Sun Sep 02, 2012 3:23 pmFood.com Groupie
What a great, informative, mouth-watering post!
Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:37 pmForum Host
When I was a kid we lived in the English suburbs, and of course you wouldn't get the variety of international foods in the grocery store the way you can now. And my mother was never happy with the feta we had at the store so she use to make her own, On the stove! We'd store it in brine, and it was divine. So salty, and creamy. I haven't tried my had at cheese making myself... but I know it isn't too difficult.
Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:25 pmForum Host
How does one make feta, MM?
I was about 8 at the time... All I remember was a big pot of milk on the stove... will have to ask mama bare for details.
Thu Sep 06, 2012 10:49 amForum Host
How does one make feta, MM?
So... My mom sent me back a quick note with a brief cheese making recipe.
Yes, I used to make feta at home but not on the stove. What you do is you heat the milk and you add a few drops of something called rennet which is an enzyme from animal stomach. I know it doesn’t sound very appealing but that’s how cheese is made. You then leave the milk with the rennet in a warm place for a day or so and it will turn into feta cheese. There is now vegetarian rennet that vegetarian people use and that’s why you find some chees marked vegetarian cheese. But those were the days when supermarkets in uk did not have feta cheese, now it’s widely available.
Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:44 amForum Host
Here is a recipe from the Fankhauser Cheese website for making Feta cheese at home:
Check the website to see the photos that accompany each step of the recipe.
INGREDIENTS AND APPARATUS:
1 gallon fresh goat's milk (You can use store-bought cow's milk as well.)
1 Tbl fresh yogurt (I have had most success with Dannon Plain.)
1/2 tablet rennet, dissolve in 1/4 cup water (I have always used Junket Rennet tablets.)
1+ gallon pot with lid (stainless steel with heavy bottom is best, enamel works, but you must stir it!)
1 long bladed knife
2 clean sterile handkerchiefs
cheese mold: Cut the ends out of a smooth-sided 4 x 5 inch tin can, save one of the cut ends.
1. Warm milk to 30°C (86°F) . Stir regularly so that it does not burn on the bottom. (Less stirring is required if the pot has a thick heat dissipating bottom.) Remove from heat.
2. Mix 1 Tbl yogurt with equal part milk to blend, then stir the blended yogurt and milk into the warmed milk to thoroughly mix. Cover and let inoculated milk sit for one hour at room temperature.
3. While the inoculated milk sits, dissolve 1/2 tablet rennet in fresh cool water.
4. After the inoculated milk has sat for one hour, add dissolved rennet to the inoculated milk, stir to mix thoroughly.
5. Let the inoculated, renneted milk sit covered overnight at room temperature.
6. The next morning, the milk should have gelled. Some of the whey will have separated. Check for a clean break.
Cut curd as per basic cheese : start at one side, cut straight down to bottom. Make the next cut 1/2 inch from and parallel to the first, but sloping slightly (the sliced curd will be wider at bottom than top). Repeat increasing angle with each cut . Turn pot 90°, repeat cuts . Repeat cuts and turning two more times. The curd pieces should be about 1/2 inch cubes.
7. With very clean hand and arm, reach to the bottom and gently lift the curds to stir. Cut large pieces which appear with a table knife so that they are 1/2 inch cubes. Let the cut curds sit, with occasional stirring, for 10-15 minutes until curd is somewhat contracted.
8. Decant off the whey through the strainer lined with the handkerchief, pour curds into handkerchief. (In this image, I am draining off the top whey without filtering it.) Save the whey to make whey brine in step 11.
Let drain until no more whey drains out (about 2-4 hours). It may be drained at room temperature, or in the refrigerator, as shown in the image.
9. Place drained curds into a bowl, mix in a 1/2 tsp salt, breaking up the curd.
10. Press into mold as per basic cheese: Line can with handkerchief, place curds inside, fold over ends of cloth, place end on top, and place weight on top of that. Let sit overnight.
11. Prepare pickling whey brine (12.5% salt): 20 oz of whey (from step 8 ) plus 5 Tbl salt. Stir to dissolve. The brine must be acidic or else the cheese will melt on the surface (speaking from experience...)
12. Cut cheese into 1.5 inch cubes, place into wide-mouth jar. Pour brine over to cover. Let pickle for several days in the refrigerator. The cheese will become drier and more easily crumbled with time. Store in the frig. Rinse before use to remove excess salt.
Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:50 amForum Host
Thanks for sharing.... One of these days I'll have the courage to make some!
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