Wednesday, February 23, 2011
ABOUT GREEK CHEESE, PART 1: GREEK CHEESE BACKGROUNDER
ABOUT GREEK CHEESE
Mythology & Ancient History
• Cheesemaking is an ancient art in Greece
• According to Greek mythology, Apollo’s son Aristaios taught humans how to make cheese.
• Ancient Greeks loved goat’s milk cheeses, sheep’s milk cheeses, soft, sharp cheeses like feta, and even cheese cakes!
• Many of the cheeses Greeks enjoy today are remarkably similar to those mentioned in ancient literature
Geography and Greek Cheese
• Greece, with its 2,000 islands and mountainous mainland, has been home to roaming shepherds since time immemorial.
• Shepherds, of course, use their milk to make cheese…
• Every region in Greece—sometimes individual villages, too—produces unique, local cheese.
• Many of these regional cheeses are products of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)
What is (Protected Designation of Origin) PDO?
* An E.U.-established system of accreditation for ensuring high-quality production of specific, traditional, regional agricultural products
Note: PDO status applies to a range of food products, including cheeses, wines, olives and olive oils, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Greek Cheese today
• Cheese is made almost everywhere in Greece
• Greeks have the highest per capita consumption of cheese in the world: 22 kilos per person annually
• Today most Greek cheese is made from sheep’s and/or goat’s milk.
• In only a few places are cow’s milk cheeses produced.
• There are at least 62 different cheeses:
• Soft, sharp or mild cheeses
• Hard cheeses
• Semi-hard yellow cheeses
• Brined cheeses
• Pulled cheeses (pasta filata method)
• Naturally fermented cheeses
• Truly unusual cheeses, aged in wine or olive oil, studded with herbs, nuts and dried fruits, even dipped in the sea for flavor
Tune in for more info on specific Greek cheeses and learn how to make tradititional Greek saganaki in the video that follows.