Feta Cheese

Feta is a brined cheese, first recorded thousands of years ago, in Ancient Greece. It is made exclusively from sheep milk or from a mixture of sheep and goats milk (up to 30%). Its flavor is salty and it is cured in a brine solution or whey for about 3 months. When removed from the brine, it dries out rapidly and becomes more solid. Feta cheese is white and commonly packed in large square blocks.The variety changes depending on the hardness of the cheese, so that it can range from hard to soft. The taste varies accordingly. Its fat content can range from 30% to 60%, while the average is around 45%.

Protected Designation of Origin
Feta cheese is guaranteed by the European Commission as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product. This means that the name “feta” cannot be used to designate similar cheeses produced outside Greece and in a way other than the traditional.It was adopted by the EU for the protection of regional products and entered into force in 1996. The registration of feta as a PDO product provoked several reactions from countries that produced up to that moment large quantities of feta, such as Denmark, France and Germany. The registration was annulled by the European Court of Justice in March 1999 (joined cases C-289/96, C 293/96 and C 299/96). The Commission conducted a new detailed investigation, which concluded that “feta” should be protected as a designation of origin. In October 2002 a new Regulation reregistered feta to the list of PDO products according to European Law. A new appeal of Denmark and Germany against the above-mentioned Regulation was dismissed by the ECJ in 2005 (joined cases C-465/02 and C-466/02).

History
Tracing the origin of feta in Ancient Greece, we find the first references in Homers Odyssey and more specifically in the famous myth of Cyclops Polyphemus. According to the legend, Polyphemus was the first manufacturer of feta and cheese in general. Carrying the sheeps milk every day in animal skins, found to his great surprise that after a few days the milk curdled and became solid, edible and easily storable. Similar cheeses are found throughout the Balkans. Until its recent registration as a PDO product, feta was also produced under the same name in other counties, while widespread was the feta made from cows milk as well. However, since its registration as a PDO product, no cheese which contains cows milk and has not been produced in Greece can be named “feta”.The recipe was introduced in Cyprus from Greece and, though its production and exportation is documented already since 1904, after its registration the cheese makers were forced to rename it. Most of the producers adopted the official term “white cheese” while the consumers never stopped calling it “feta” in everyday use.

Name
It is believed that the Byzantine name of feta was "recent" (ie fresh). The name feta is of Italian origin (, as it is pronounced in Cypriot dialect.

Use
The use of feta is widespread throughout the world as the main ingredient of greek salad. Apart from greek salad it is the main ingredient of cheese pie, as well as of several other dishes of Greek cuisine. It is often associated with Mediterranean cuisine and is its trademark worldwide.