Original Greek Cheeses

Greek cheeses are not as famous around the world as French ones. However, when visiting Hellas, you will be surprised by the huge number of varieties and producers of local cheeses. It is not only the variety that amazes but also the delicious quality and unique taste of each cheese. One can understand why Greece has a higher annual cheese consumption per capita than any other European country.

It seems that the Greeks make cheeses for themselves only and are not very worried about the fact that their products are not advertised around the world. Indeed, of all the Greek cheese variety, only feta is famous abroad.

The cheese production is in Greece a very old occupation reflected even in the ancient Greek mythology. Seeing the divine nature in everything, the Greeks have found it in the cheese too. A myth says that this is a gift to people by Artemis, the goddess of the hunt who has offered it to the inhabitants of Olympus. The gods at a feast, having tasted the cheese and washed down with wine, found it equal in taste to their usual ambrosia. Of course, it is great with a good wine!

According to another myth, Aristeus, the son of Apollo and of the nymph Cyrene, learned how to ferment milk, and to make dairy products, including cheese. This mythical hero did a lot for mortals in general as a healer and beekeeper.

The third myth tells that the cheese came from a cornucopia of the goat Amalthea which nurtured the thunder god Zeus. Some religious rites were also associated with cheese. So, wishing to appease the gods, the inhabitant of Crete sacrificed cheese loaves to them. What is most importantly, people liked the cheese so much that they could not even imagine their meal without it soon.

Cheese making was widespread throughout ancient Hellas, and each region created its unique local recipe. Thanks to the tradition, these recipes have been passed down from generation to generation. Therefore, Greece has preserved a rich assortment of authentic high-quality cheeses, which are more and more in demand in the international market for their excellent taste.

A number of traditional Greek cheeses (21 types) have been included in the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) list by the European Union. Each Greek PDO cheese can only be produced in a specific Greek area from a specific local milk and according to an approved recipe. Greece is currently pending applications for five more types to obtain the PDO mark.  Thus, in terms of original cheeses, Greece took the honorable third place among the EU countries after France and Italy.

List of Greek PDO cheeses:  1. Feta (Φέτα); 2. Kaseri or casseri (Κασέρι); 3. Graviera of Agrafa (Γραβιέρα Αγράφων); 4. Graviera Kritis (Γραβιέρα Κρήτης); 5. Graviera Naxou (Γραβιέρα Νάξου); 6. Kalataki Limnou (Καλαθάκι Λήμνου); 7. Katiki Domokou (Κατίκι Δομοκού); 8. Kefalograviera (Κεφαλογραβιέρα); 9. Kopanisti (Κοπανιστή); 10. Ladotyri Mytilinis (Λαδοτύρι Μυτιλήνης); 11. Manouri (Μανούρι); 12. Metsovone (Μετσοβόνε); 13. Xynomyzithra Kritis (Ξυνοµυζήθρα Κρήτης); 14. Pichtogalo Chanion (Πηχτόγαλο Χανίων); 15. Xygalo Siteias (Ξύγαλο Σητείας); 16. Sfela (Σφέλα); 17. San Michali (Σαν Μιχάλη); 18. Formaella of Arachova (Φορµαέλλα Αραχώβης); 19. Galotyri (Γαλοτύρι); 20. Batzos (Μπάτζος); 21. Anevato (Ανεβατό).

List of great delicious Greek cheeses pending a PDO approval: 1. Myzithra (Μυζήθρα); 2. Kefalotyri (Κεφαλοτύρι); 3. Halloumi (Χαλλούμι); 4. Antotyros (Ανθότυρος); 5. Telemes (Τελεμές).

The Aegean Sea is home to countless large and small islands. The islanders honor their ancient culinary traditions; therefore, each island also produces its own special cheese.

There are such cheeses in Crete too. Of the abovementioned traditional Greek PDO cheeses, four are produced in Crete: Graviera Kritis, Xynomyzithra Kritis, Pichtogalo Chanion and Xygalo Siteias.

You have to taste them, definitely.


We have used information from https://greciya-ellada.ru/syry-gretsii/