A Greek cheese platter is always the best way to go. (Photo by odysea_ltd/Instagram)
Want to discover your next cheese-filled adventure? We’ve chosen our favorite Greek creamy delights to add to your daily diet, gatherings, and recipes. There are so many different kinds of cheese that go beyond the classic feta, however all share the traditional, Greek essence in their flavor.
It wouldn’t be fair to begin this line-up without mentioning the queen of cheeses, feta. Made with sheep or a blend of sheep and goat’s milk, feta cheese is aged for several weeks before being stored in barrels of brine for at least two months. Once this process is done, it is sent to supermarkets and stores to be cut and sold. To ensure proper hydration, it is important that it is stored in brine or a salty milk solution as it dries up relatively quickly. Feta can be served with pretty much anything, from salads to prawns saganaki, to chicken and casserole.
Graviera is Greece’s second most popular cheese one could say, produced in several regions such as Crete, Lesbos, Naxos, and Amfilochia, with each area presenting its own variations. Generally, graviera is a wheel-shaped cheese made from and blend of cow, goat, and sheep’s milk. This versatile cheese can be sliced, grated, used in salads, as well as in baked dishes. Similarly to feta, it makes a great cheese for saganaki or cheese fritters, known as Greek cheese balls.
A semi-hard smoked cheese, metsovone, originated from a mountain village in northern Greece, Metsovo is not so well known around the world. Using the pasta filata technique, just like the Italian provolone, metsovone is made from cow’s milk or a blend of cow, sheep or goat milk. It is a fine Greek cheese for grilling, best served with fruits and wine, but also an excellent choice for a table cheese. If you happen to visit Metsovo, be sure to try this cheese with cayenne pepper sprinkled on top.
If you’re looking to make the most heavenly traditional Greek cheese pie, then Kasseri is your cheese. Also part of the filata pasta family of cheeses, kasseri is a pale yellow cheese made from sheep’s milk, with a stringy texture. This is accomplished by using unpasteurized milk to make it, allowing the cheese to age for four months. Kasseri can also be enjoyed in pastries, sandwiches, saganaki, as well as a good table cheese.
A lesser-known cheese, mizithra is another unique cheese Greece has to offer. It is creamy and white, made from pasteurized sheep’s or goat’s milk, or a mixture of both. In its early stages, it is served as a dessert mostly with honey or in other pastries and salads. However, mizithra can also be salt-dried, and the longer it ages, the drier and harder it gets. Once it reaches this stage, it can be a perfect combination for grating on top of hot pasta.
One of the harder Greek cheeses, kefalotyri, has a sharp salty taste as it is made from unpasteurized goat’s or sheep’s milk, and sometimes even both. It is an ultimate cheese for frying, making for mouthwatering saganaki. It is well paired with seasonal fruits and wine when served on a cheese board as well as a delicious addition to pasta, sauces, and stews.
Last but not least, kefalograviera is the middle ground between kefalotyri and graviera cheese. Made of ewe’s milk, or a combo of sheep’s and goat’s milk, kefalograviera is typically left to mature for three months before consumption. Its main production takes place in Western Macedonia, Epirus, the regional units of Aetolia-Acarnania, and Evrytania.
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