Common types of Greek Cheese are: Anthotiros, Feta, Formaella of Parnassos, Galotiri, Graviera of Crete, Graviera of Naxos, Kalathaki of Limnos, Kasseri, Kefalograviera, Kefalotiri, Kopanisti, Ladotiri of Mitilini, Manouri, Metsovone, Mizithra.
Does the above sound Greek to you? You are 100% right! These are the names of different types of traditional Greek cheeses. Each of them has its own taste and characteristics, but they all have one thing in common: they are delicious and you should not miss the opportunity to taste some of them during your next visit to Greece.
Table of Contents
Anthotiros: From whey to culinary delight
Origin and Manufacture
Anthotiros is a quintessential Greek cheese that has DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin) status, which guarantees its high quality and traditional production methods. Produced mainly in regions such as Crete, Macedonia, Thrace and Thessalia, this cheese is made from the whey of sheep’s and goat’s milk, often combined with small amounts of milk or cream.
Varieties and characteristics
Anthotiros comes in two main forms: Fresh and Dried:
- Fresh Anthotiros is known for its soft texture and mild flavor, containing up to 70% moisture and at least 65% fat in dry matter.
- Dried Anthotiros is harder and saltier, with a moisture content of around 40% and a similar fat content. Whether grated or enjoyed as a table cheese, its rich, nuanced flavor makes it a versatile addition to many dishes.
Interestingly, fresh anthotiros contains up to 70% moisture and a minimum of 65% fat in dry matter, while its dried counterpart contains 40% moisture and 65% fat in dry matter.
Feta: The Pinnacle of Greek Cheese
Feta has its roots in Greek history, dating back to the Homeric era. This famous cheese is a staple of the Greek diet, with an annual per capita consumption of over 12 kilograms.
Produced under DOC conditions, Greek feta cheese is made from pure ewe’s milk or a mixture with up to 30% goat’s milk. It is primarily produced in areas where the use of fertilizers or pesticides is minimal, adding to its organic appeal.
Characteristics of Greek Feta
- Taste: Salty, slightly acidic
- Texture: Soft, crumbly
- Nutritional Composition: Moisture 52.9%, Fat 26.2%, Protein 16.7%, Salt 2.9%, pH 4.4
- Feta is exceptionally versatile. It graces Greek salads, stars in cheese pies, and also transforms into delicious “saganaki” (shallow-fried cheese), for example shrimps saganaki.
Formaella of Parnassos: Cheese with a bite
Produced at the foot of Mt. Parnassos in the region of Arachova, Formaella has a unique piquant taste that sets it apart. This hard cheese also enjoys the status of a Controlled Denomination of Origin (DOC).
Formaella has a moisture content of 34.6%, a fat content of 32.9%, a protein content of 27.7% and a salt content of 2.1%. It is matured for at least three months and can be eaten fresh or as “saganaki” cheese.
Galotiri: A Refreshing Palette
Galotiri is one of the oldest Greek cheeses, produced mainly in the regions of Epirus and Thessalia. With its smooth texture and slightly tart flavor, it can enliven any table.
Galotyri cheese has 70.8% moisture and 13.8% fat, offering a balanced nutritional profile with 9.8% protein and a salt concentration of 2.7%. Its pH of 4.1 gives it a refreshing taste.
Graviera: A Tale of Two Islands
Graviera of Crete
Graviera of Crete is a high quality hard cheese that is matured for at least five months. Its moisture content is limited to 38% and it has a minimum of 40% fat in dry matter, seasoned with a hint of sweetness.
Graviera of Naxos
Similarly, Graviera of Naxos is made from cow’s milk or a mixture with sheep’s or goat’s milk. With a minimum of 40% fat in dry matter and up to 38% moisture, it is a high quality cheese with unique organoleptic characteristics.
Manouri: A whey beyond ordinary
Manouri is a premium traditional Greek whey cheese produced mainly in Central and Western Macedonia and Thessalia. Unlike Anthotiros, Manouri involves the addition of larger percentages of milk and/or cream during the hard cheese making process.
This is the cream of the whey cheeses, with DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin) status. Its high fat content coupled with its creamy texture makes it a luxurious addition to a variety of dishes.
Kalathaki of Limnos
Kalathaki of Limnos is not just another cheese; it’s an emblem of the island of Limnos itself. This cheese, which has been awarded the status of a DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin), is made mainly from sheep’s milk, occasionally mixed with small amounts of goat’s milk. Its soft texture harmonizes well with its slightly acid and salty palate.
- Taste profile: Slightly sour and salty, with organoleptic characteristics similar to feta.
- Common Uses: Consumed as a table cheese, often used in Greek salads, cheese pastries, and especially in “saganaki” (flat-fried cheese).
- Nutritional Information: kalathaki of Limnos consists of 53.6% moisture, 25.3% fat, 17.4% protein, 2.4% salt, and a pH of 4.5.
Kasseri: The multi-regional treasure
Kasseri is another cheese with DOC status, made from sheep’s milk or in combination with goat’s milk. It comes from several Greek regions, including Macedonia, Thessaly, the island of Mytilini and Xanthi.
- Taste profile: Semi-hard in texture, it offers a subdued yet satisfying flavor.
- Common Uses: Primarily consumed as a table cheese, but often used as a pizza topping
- Nutritional Composition: Moisture at 42.2%, Fat at 25.2%, Protein at 25.8%, Salt at 3.1%, and pH at 5.7
Kefalograviera: A perfect balance
Kefalograviera combines the characteristics of Kefalotiri and Graviera, which gives it its unique name. It is a hard cheese with DOC status, produced mainly from sheep’s milk in regions such as Western Macedonia, Epirus and Evritania.
- Taste profile: Notable for its mature, aged flavor that lands somewhere between Kefalotiri and Graviera.
- Common Uses: Consumed as table cheese, grated cheese, and often enjoyed as saganaki
- Nutritional Highlights: 35.4% moisture, 31.3% fat, 25.9% protein, 3.4% salt, and 5.6 pH.
Often considered the ancestor of many hard Greek cheeses, Kefalotiri is made from sheep’s or goat’s milk, or a mixture of the two, in various regions of Greece.
- Flavor Profile: A salty, piquant delight, enriched by a maturing process of at least three months.
- Common Uses: Consumed as table cheese, grated cheese, in cheese pies and, not surprisingly, as saganaki.
- Nutritional Information: Moisture at 36.3%, Fat at 28.8%, Protein at 26.6%, Salt at 3.9%, and pH at 5.1
Kopanisti: The taste bomb of the Cyclades
Exclusively produced in the Cyclades Islands, Kopanisti is another cheese with DOC status. It can be made from sheep’s, cow’s or goat’s milk or a mixture of these.
- Taste profile: Characterized by an intense salty, piquant flavor; its rich texture and flavor is similar to that of Roquefort.
- Common Uses: Consumed as a table cheese, in cheese pastries, and pairs well with wine and ouzo.
- Nutritional Composition: Moisture at 60.2%, Fat at 19.4%, Protein at 16.7%, Salt at 3%, and pH at 4.6
Ladotiri from Mitilini: Olive oil’s best companion
Ladotiri of Mitilini stands out for its exceptional conservation method. Produced exclusively on the island of Mitilini, it is made from sheep’s milk, often mixed with goat’s milk. It is aged for at least three months and is uniquely preserved in olive oil – hence the name “ladotiri“, where “ladi” means olive oil and “tiri” means cheese. The cheese takes on a hard texture, a strong aroma, and a slightly salty profile, making it an ideal table cheese.
Nutritional values of Ladotiri:.
- Moisture: 33.6%
- Fat: 31.6
- Protein: 2.7
- pH: 5.3
Manouri: Creaminess Redefined
Another wonder of the cheese landscape is Manouri. Produced exclusively in Central and Western Macedonia and Thessalia, Manouri is made from whey – often mixed with milk and/or cream. The texture of this cheese is soft (less than mizithra) and its flavor profile can only be described as unique. With a high fat content, it offers a luxuriously creamy experience that’s unparalleled in the world of Greek cheeses.
Nutritional values of Manouri:.
- Moisture: 51.9%
- Fat: 36.7
- Protein: 10.9
- Salt: 0.8
- pH: 5.9
Metsovone: A Smoky Affair
Metsovone, a hard smoked cheese, captivates the senses with its complex flavor. Originating from the regions around Metsovo in Epirus, this pasta filata-like cheese is primarily made from cow’s milk. Occasionally, small amounts of sheep’s or goat’s milk are added. It is then aged for a minimum of three months, making it an excellent quality table cheese that goes well with wine.
Nutritional values of Metsovone:.
- Moisture: 41.8%
- Fat: 25.9
- Protein: 26.8
- Salt: 2.8
- pH: 5.5
Mizithra: The Ancestor of Greek Whey Cheeses
Probably the oldest Greek cheese, Mizithra has a long and storied history. It is produced in several regions, including Crete, Macedonia, Thrace, Thessalia, and the Ionian Islands. Made from whey derived from sheep’s, goat’s or cow’s milk, mizithra comes in two different varieties: Fresh and Dried:
- Fresh Mizithra is often consumed within days of its production
- Dried Mizithra undergoes a salting and drying process, making it ideal for grating.
Nutritional content of Fresh Mizithra:.
- Moisture: Up to 70%.
- Fat in dry matter: At least 50%.
Nutritional content of dried Mizithra:.
- Moisture: 40%
- Fat in dry matter: 50%
Pappa, E.C.; Kondyli, E.; Pappas, A.C.; Giamouri, E.; Sarri, A.; Mavrommatis, A.; Zoidis, E.; Papalamprou, L.; Simitzis, P.; Goliomytis, M.; et al. Compositional Differences of Greek Cheeses of Limited Production. Foods 2023, 12, 2426. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods12122426
Read more: Greek Food, Recipes and Products