Greece is among the ten first countries in the world in cheese production. There is a great number of different kinds of cheese in Greece, as the geographical configuration of the land with the big mountain volumes and the numerous islands allowed the formation of a very big variety of different and important kinds of cheese. Greek traditions often refer to milk and its products. From antiquity milk was considered as a somewhat sacred food, because Zeus, leader of the Olympic gods, was brought up with the milk of nymph Amalthea, while according to Greek Mythology the art of cheese making was a gift to the mortals directly from the Olympians.
‘Feta’ is the leading cheese, produced for at least six thousand years now! It is a soft, white cheese, matured and conserved in brine. Both types of cheese, soft and hard, are produced in Greece, while there are up to 545 different kinds of cheese recorded and 250,000 families nationwide who are occupied, fully or partially, with goat and sheep breeding, as goat and sheep milk represents almost 85% of the whole production.
Cheese can be categorised as follows:
-Based on the origin, i.e. the quality and diversity of the flora of each area of production, the cheese-making tradition of the site, the breeds of dairy animals in the region, the climatic conditions at each location.
-Based on the type of milk, i.e. sheep, cow, goat, buffalo, a mixture of two or more kinds of milk, in various proportions. Each type of milk has a special flavor and aroma, but has a different ratio in solids and fat it contains, so the type of milk plays an important role in the quantity required to produce a given amount of cheese. At the same time is also key to the colour and texture of the finished product and the behaviour of each cheese during maturation.
-Based on organoleptic characteristics: spreadable cheese, soft, semi-hard, hard, unsalted, salty, oily, moist, spicy, strong-smelling, easy or difficult to melt. These features are usually taken into account in the selection of each cheese with respect to its future use mainly for cooking and serving
Cheese is the richest food source of protein, especially hard cheeses, in which the protein content (30%) is greater than that of meat (20%). For this reason, cheeses have a high biological value and are suitable mainly for feeding children, who have greater need for amino acids than adults.
Apart from feta, Greece indicatively exports the following types of cheese with PDO: Kasseri, Kefalograviera, Cream cheese (Manouri), Galotyri, Kopanisti, Crete Gruyere, Naxos Gruyere, Agrafa Gruyere, Sfela, Anevato, Lemnos Kalathaki, Domokos Katiki, Mytilene Ladotyri, Metsovone, Batzos, Crete sour mizithra, Chania Pichtogalo, Syros San Michael, Arachova Parnassos Formaella.
Packaging for cheese are glass, metal, plastic, glass, clay pots or barrels and vacuum packaging as well. Especially Feta cheese is offered in vacuum pack or in brine.