Feta is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece. A
sheep's milk cheese, varying amounts of goats’ milk may be added, as long as
goat milk makes up less than 30% of the total mixture.
Since 2005, feta has been a protected designation of origin
product in the European Union. Although traditional feta cheese should only
include sheep and goat's milk, it is quite common that cheese sold as 'feta'
includes cow's milk, or even is composed exclusively of cow's milk.
Feta is an aged cheese, commonly produced in blocks, and has a slightly
grainy texture. It is used as a table cheese, as well as in salads, pastries
and in baking, notably in the popular phyllo-based dishes spanakopita
("spinach pie") and tyropita ("cheese pie") and combined with olive
oil and vegetables.
Similar white brined cheeses (often called 'white cheese' in
various languages) are found in the eastern Mediterranean and around the Black
Sea, for example, Russian
Left: Feta with olives.
Feta is salted and cured in a brine solution (based on water
or whey) for several months. Feta dries out rapidly when removed from the
brine. Feta cheese is white, usually formed into square cakes, and can range
from soft to semi-hard, with a tangy, salty flavor that can range from mild
to sharp. The cured cheese easily crumbles. Its fat content can range from
30 to 60 percent; most is around 45 percent milk fat. Most feta cheese has a
pH of 4.4 to 4.9.
Feta is also an important ingredient of
Greek salad. Feta, like most cheeses, can also be served cooked;
it is sometimes grilled as part of a sandwich or as a salty alternative to other
cheeses in a variety of dishes.
Left: Feta in Greek salad.