In Greece, when we say cheese, we mean only one name: feta. And when we say feta, we mean the white cheese in brine, exclusively from ewe’s milk, or mixed with goat’s milk, to a rate that does not exceed 30%. Feta has been a Protected Designation Origin since 1992, and is one of few products whose production does not relate to only one geographical area or place, but almost to the total of mainland Greece – plus the island of Lesbos. What requirements, however, should be met for a white cheese in brine to be called feta? The area: The area of origin should be mountainous or sub-mountainous, with a highly-inclined ground, and often diminishing tree vegetation, or complete lack of it.

In these areas, the Mediterranean climate favors natural vegetation, while intensive crops are isolated and limited. The animals: sheep and goats from indigenous breeds, which are fed in the traditional way. Exclusively in natural meadows, with a grazing vegetation of extremely rich flora, in which, human intervention is minimal. These sheep and goats are abstemious, strong, and survive in a minimally generous environment, from a quantitative perspective, giving milk of lower quantity, but higher quality. The milk: Rich in proteins, fat, and dry matter, the milk of the local breeds is collected daily, and its acidity and pH are; it is pasteurized and coagulated within 48 hours, and on which, is prohibited the condensation, addition of milk powder or condensed milk, proteins, colorants, or preservatives. The production: The unique and authentic recipe for the production of feta, adapted to modern health and safety requirements, has remained the same over the centuries.

After the coagulation of the milk, the curdle is drained naturally, without any pressure; its surface is salted, natural brine is added, and matures in two stages, under controlled temperature and humidity, for two months. The authentic feta: Its color is pure white – neither yellow, nor dull. Its structure is soft or semi-soft, that can be cut easily, and does not fall apart. Its texture is solid, without any rind, and with little, if any holes at all. Its taste is pleasant, and slightly acidic, and its flavor is rich. Each product that carries the badge Protected Designation of Origin “Feta” must meet all the above requirements and be produced in Greece: in any other case, the white cheese that you hold in your hands is simply not feta.