Feta cheese is produced from sheep milk or in combination with goat milk in the regions of Macedonia, Thrace, Epirus, Thessaly, Sterea Ellada, Peloponnesus and Mytilini. It has a slightly salty and acescent taste and a natural white colour. It can be characterised a biological product because it is produced from milk coming from herds allowed to graze freely in regions where no pesticides, insect repellants or other pollutants are used. It is consumed as a table cheese or melted, while it is also used in the Greek traditional salad and in cheese pies. Its average composition is 52.9% humidity; 26.2% fatl 16.7% proteins and 2.9% salt, and has an average pH of 4.4.
Feta is the most well-known Greek cheese, and has been produced since the time of Homer. It is a soft, white cheese which matures in brine for two months, and which is preserved in brine. It is an important component of the Greek diet and is connected with the history and traditions of the country. Average Feta consumption in Greece is the highest in the world, at almost 12 kilos per person.
For its production, after standardization milk is pasteurized at 68 oC for 10 minutes (slow pasteurization) or at 72 oC for 15 seconds (quick pasteurization). It is then cooled at 34-36 oC; lactic acid cultures are added, alongside chloride calcium at a proportion of 10-20g/100 kg milk and – after 20 minutes – enough rennet for the milk to coagulate in 45-60 minutes. The curd is then divided in cubes of 1-2 cm and is left to rest for 10 minutes. It is then smoothly stirred and again let to rest for another 10 minutes. The curd is then transferred in metal or plastic moulds, rectangular or cylindrical in shape, with a large number of cuts over their whole surface to facilitate the draining of the milk. After the positioning of the curd in the moulds, the latter are placed for 24 hours in a room with a temperature of 16-18 oC. During this time, the moulds are upturned 2-3 times and the curd is salted, so as to remove any excess cheese milk.
The next day, the cheese is removed from the moulds and is cut in rectangular shapes. It is placed temporarily in open barrels or containers in layers, and is salted at a proportion of 3% of its weight. After 2-3 days, the pieces of cheese are finally placed in barrels or metal containers, are covered in brine at 7% and placed in a cooling booth with a temperature of 16-18 oC, where they remain for 10-15 days, until the first stage of maturation is completed. They are then transferred in cooling booths at a temperature of 2-5 oC for 2 months, whereby the maturation process is completed and the cheese is available for consumption according to legislation.