The Feta PDO is a cheese obtained exclusively from sheep's milk, or from a mixture of ovine and caprine milk, the latter of which should not exceed 30%. It is traditionally produced with non-pasteurised milk, but the use of pasteurised milk is also allowed.
Method of working/Cultivation/Breeding
The curdling of the milk takes place without heating at a temperature between 24ºC and 36ºC. Once the curd is obtained, it is submitted to a process of natural dripping, without exerting pressure, using specific moulds that can be round, if the maturation takes place in barrels, or square, if maturation takes place in jars. This is a very important stage, during which the biologic acidification of the cheese takes place. Once the curd is drawn from the moulds, after it has become solid, it is cut and submitted to superficial dry salting. During this phase, the sought-after microflora builds up on the surface of the curd, which is crucial for the correct maturation of the Feta PDO, so that the organoleptic properties that characterise it can develop. Successively, it is placed in wood or metal containers, where pickle is added, with salt constituting 7% of its total weight. The maturation process takes place in two stages: during the first phase, the containers are transferred to rooms with a temperature up to 18°C, for a maximum period of 15 days; in the second phase, these are transported to other rooms with a temperature of 2-4°C, up until an overall maturation period of at least two months is achieved.
Aspect and Taste
Feta PDO is a white cheese with a compact paste and irregular holing. It does not have a rind and is characterised by a very intense taste, salty and persistent.
The production area of the Feta PDO includes the prefectures of Thessaloniki, Chalkidiki, Kilkis, Grevena, Pieria, Pella, Florina, Kozani, Kastoria, Kavala, Drama and Serres, in the Macedonia region; the prefectures of Larissa, Trikala, Karditsa and Magnesia in the Thessaly region; the prefectures of Evros, Xanthi and Rhodope in the region of Thrace; the prefectures Ioannina, Thesprotia, Arta and Preveza in the Epirus region; the prefectures of Corinthia, Argolis, Arcadia, Achaea, Ilia, Laconia and Messinia in the Peloponnese; the prefectures of Lesbos and the prefecture of Attica, Boeotia, Phthiotis, Phocis, Evrytania, Aetolia-Acarnania and Euboea in Central Greece.
The Feta PDO is the most popular traditional cheese in Greece and is one of the most famous Greek cheeses in the world. It has been produced since ancient times. In fact, it was already known in the period of Homer, who described the production method of a cheese that is very similar to today's Feta PDO in the Odyssey.
The Feta PDO should be kept in pickle and placed in the refrigerator, for no longer than 10-15 days. This cheese is usually eaten raw, on its own as table cheese or as ingredient in various dishes. Since it is fairly salty, it is advisable to leave it in water for at least 30 minutes before serving, in order to rid it of its excess salt and to make the taste more delicate. It is used to flavour salads and typical Greek gastronomy dishes, serving it with bread and olives, as well as with red wine.
The product is sold as Feta PDO. It is marketed packaged in rectangular barrels of variable weight between 1 kg and 2 kg, or between 25 kg and 50 kg, or marketed by weight in pre-packaged portions.
The Feta PDO, which in Greek means slice, derives from the sliced shape the cheese takes on when the curd is cut into pieces. It is further known with the name "barrel cheese" given the typical barrels or tin containers in which the cheese is kept, or also as tsadila cheese, from the name of the cloth used for the dripping of the whey.