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Feta (φέτα) is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece. Feta is an aged crumbly cheese, commonly produced in blocks, and has a slightly grainy texture. It is used as a table cheese, as well as in salads (e.g. the Greek salad), 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. It can also be served cooked or grilled, as part of a sandwich or as a salty alternative to other cheeses in a variety of dishes.
Since 2002, feta has been a protected designation of origin product. According to the relevant EU legislation, only those cheeses produced in a traditional way in some areas of Greece (mainland and the island of Lesbos), and made from sheep milk, or from a mixture of sheep and goats’ milk (up to 30%) of the same area, may bear the name "feta". However, similar white brined cheeses (often called 'white cheese' in various languages) are found in the eastern Mediterranean and around the Black Sea. Similar brined white cheeses produced outside the EU are often made partly or wholly of cow's milk, and they are sometimes called 'feta'.
Feta is a soft white brined cheese with small holes, a compact touch, few cuts, and no skin. It is usually formed into large blocks, which are submerged in brine. Its flavor is tangy and salty, ranging from mild to sharp. Its maximum moisture is 56%, its minimum fat content in dry matter is 43%, and its pH usually ranges from 4.4 to 4.6.
Feta is salted and cured in a brine solution (based on water or whey) for several months. When removed from the brine, it dries out rapidly. It was initially made with goat's or sheep's milk, however in modern times much is often produced commercially with pasteurized cow's milk. Curdled milk with rennet is separated and left to drain in a special mold or a cloth bag. Afterwards, it is cut to large slices that are salted and then packed in barrels filled with brine.
Historical origins Edit
Feta cheese is first recorded in the Byzantine Empire under the name πρόσφατος (prósphatos, "recent", i.e. fresh), and was associated specifically with Crete. An Italian visitor to Candia in 1494 describes its storage in brine clearly.
The Greek word "feta" comes from the Italian word fetta ("slice"). It was introduced into the Greek language in the 17th century. Opinions vary whether it refers to the method of cutting the cheese in slices to serve on a plate or because of the practice of slicing it to place in barrels.
After a long legal battle with Denmark, which produced a cheese under the same name using artificially blanched cow's milk, the term "feta" has been a protected designation of origin (PDO) since July 2002, which limits the term within the European Union to feta made exclusively of sheep's/goat's milk in Greece. According to the Commission, the biodiversity of the land coupled with the special breeds of sheep and goats used for milk is what gives feta cheese a specific aroma and flavor.
When needed to describe an imitation to feta, names such as "salad cheese" and "Greek-style cheese" are used. The European Commission gave other nations five years to find a new name for their "feta" cheese, or to stop production. Because of the decision by the European Union, Danish dairy company Arla Foods changed the name of their product to apetina.
Similar cheeses around the world Edit
Similar cheeses can be found in:
- Albania (djath i bardhë or djath i gjirokastrës)
- Bulgaria (сирене, sirene)
- Egypt (domiati); Sudan (gibna beyda)
- Finland (salaattijuusto, salad cheese)
- Georgia (ყველი, kveli, lit. cheese)
- Iran (panir lighvan)
- Israel (gvina bulgarit, lit. Bulgarian cheese)
- Republic of Macedonia (бело сирење, belo sirenje, lit. white cheese)
- Lebanon (gibneh bulgharieh, lit. Bulgarian cheese)
- Poland (bryndza)
- Romania (brânză telemea)
- Russia (брынза, brynza)
- Serbia (сир, sir)
- Turkey (beyaz peynir, lit. white cheese)
- Ukraine (бринза, brynza)
See also Edit
- ↑ Ellen Gooch, "Truth, Lies, and Feta: The Cheese that Launched a (Trade) War", Epikouria Magazine, Spring/Summer 2006
- ↑ "Description of Feta". Fetamania. http://www.fetamania.gr/english/index.htm. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
- ↑ Andrew Dalby, Siren feasts: A history of food and gastronomy in Greece, Routledge, 1996, p. 190
- ↑ Merriam-Webster Dictionary s.v. feta
- ↑ Γ. Μπαμπινιώτης (Babiniotis), Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας, Athens, 1998
- ↑ The Feta Legend drawing to a close, Press release by the Danish Dairy Board 4th March 2005  Accessed 12 December 2006
- ↑ Feta battle won, but terms must be obeyed, Kathimerini newspaper archived article 16 Oct 2002  Accessed 12 December 2006.
- ↑ Protected Designation of Origin entry on the European Commission website. 
- ↑ Gooch, Ellen, "Truth, Lies, and Feta", Epikouria Magazine, Spring/Summer 2006
- ↑ Apetina skal markedsføres som feta-mærke
- Dalby, Andrew (1997). Siren feasts: a history of food and gastronomy in Greece. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-11620-1. OCLC 150826555.
- Feta registered as Protected Designation of Origin
- Fetamania - Feta's history, production and conservation methods, and recipes