Feta is the most famous of Greek cheeses, conjuring up images of whitewashed villages, juicy fat olives, sweet ripe tomatoes and freshly baked crusty bread. In fact it is such a Greek icon that now only those cheeses manufactured in Macedonia, Thrace, Thessaly, Central mainland Greece, the Peloponnese and Lesvos can legally be called ‘feta.’
True Feta is usually made from a mix of sheep and goats milk. The firmness, texture and flavour vary from region to region, but generally cheese from Macedonia and Thrace is milder, softer, creamier, Thessaly and Central Greece produce a more intense and robust flavour, while the Peloponnese feta is dryer, and fuller-flavoured.
The cheese’s characteristic salty flavour is enhanced by the brine solution used to pickle and protect it, but it can be washed to reduce the saltiness. For such a simple, rustic cheese, Feta is remarkably versatile. It can be a table cheese, a salad ingredient or stuffing for vegetables or pastry. And it pairs just as well with a cold beer as it does with an elegant Pinot Noir.
Feta is always best eaten fresh, but if need be, it can be stored in brine or in milk in the fridge where it will happily exist for up to 3 months.