Cheese. Only a mere mention of the word and one would think of sumptuous appetizers or foods served with them. Here is but one of the many varieties of cheeses: Meet the Feta Cheese.
Feta (from the Italian word’fetta’ significance’slice’) is really cheese curd in brine solution. When it’s removed from the solution, this sort of cheese dries up immediately. Milk from goats, sheep or cow could be used to make this.
The colour of Feta cheese is white. It’s typically formed into four-sided cakes which could either be soft or semi-hard. Its salty flavor can be adjusted to match the taste of the manufacturer.
Traditionally, in Greece, feta cheese is made with only goat’s milk or a blend of goat’s and sheep’s milk. They are first salted as a slab, then sliced, then salted once more before it is subjected to maturation process.
Other countries which make feta cheese include: Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Ukraine, Romania, Iran, Australia, Denmark, Germany and many other countries. Although feta is called differently in every country, the process of producing it is the same.
The first historic record of feta cheese was during the Byzantine time. Further records are those of Balkan peasants who made it with sheep’s or goat’s milk.
Nowadays, cow’s milk can be used to make feta cheese. The processes involved are: curdling of the milk with rennet, separation and draining of the curd, putting salt on the blocks of curd, slicing the slabs that are then salted once more.
Feta is usually utilised in making salads and is much tastier when combined with tomatoes, olives and green vegetables. An individual can store feta cheese forever because of the salt solution. A wise tip: if you want to reduce the saltiness of the cheese, soak feta first in milk or water (just for a few minutes) before eating.
Now here is some important nutrient information: it contains 30-60% fat of which 45% is fat out of milk. The caloric content is 100 calories per small slice. Whether that is good or bad for you is a question you need to ask your nutritionist.
There were really some studies that were done to decrease the salinity of feta cheese and how this has significantly improved its nutritional value. The conclusion was, it has good and bad points. The good: it is a superior source of riboflavin, protein, calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin B12. The bad: it’s a high cholesterol and sodium content. It comes with high saturated fat.
Another downside to eating feta cheese: pregnancy would not permit feta cheese consumption. Since feta is made from unpasteurized milk and comes in soft, it may contain a kind of bacteria called Listeria. Although Listeria registers symptoms such as that of the common flu and may be tolerated by adults, it is highly fatal to fetuses.
It’s quite tricky to get the real thing in the nation. Even though the industrial feta cheeses are inferior in most aspects, at least they are the closest we can get to feta taste. If you’re looking for the’original’ cheese, then be prepared to pay exorbitant fees!