Greece produces a variety of cheeses, while 21 of them hold PDO status, ensuring that no other EU country can produce the same cheese by the same name.
For the Greeks, cheese making is an activity dating back millennia. Cheese in Greece is served with almost every meal, and the country is home to hundreds of delicious cheeses, with almost every region and island producing a variety of different flavors. As a result, 21 of them are registered as Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) with each one of them enjoying its own cultural and geographical characteristics. These cheeses follow traditional production methods, require a lot of hand work and are connected to a long and specific know-how. In addition, according to the framework of the EU regulation on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs, for a geographical product to be entitled to Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, it must, among other criteria, be produced in a traditional manner within a specific region in the human and natural environment of which its original characteristics are attributed. According to this Regulation, each traditional name is part of a particular heritage shared by all the people in the region where this traditional product was created and developed.
There are approximately 16 million sheep and goats in Greece whose milk is used to produce cheese and yogurt. Terrain, vegetation, microclimate, local animal breeds, and tradition have influenced the evolution of local cheeses, making them stand out for their exceptional flavors.
Katiki Domokou is produced in the region of Domokos (hence the name), from sheep or goat’s milk or a combination of the two. It is a creamy white cheese, with a slightly sour flavor and no rind. It has a 75% maximum humidity and 40% minimum dry fat content.
Graviera Agrafon is produced in the mountainous regions of Agrafa from sheep’s milk or in combination with goat’s milk. It is a hard compact cheese, full of small holes. It is yellow in color and has a slightly sweet taste and rich aroma.
Galotyri is one of the most ancient Greek cheeses and is produced in Epirus and Thessaly from sheep or goat’s milk or a combination of the two. It is a soft, creamy cheese, without rind, with a pleasant and fresh taste and aroma.
Feta is the most famous of Greek cheeses and has been produced since the times of Homer. It is a soft, white cheese, preserved in brine. It is a component of the Greek diet and is connected with the history and traditions of the country.
Metsovone is produced from sheep, cow or goat’s milk or a combination of all three in Epirus. The cheese matures for at least three months. It is classified as a semi-hard to hard cheese, with a peppery taste and a smokey aroma.
It is produced in the island of Naxos, in the Cyclades. It is a yellow cheese with compact mass and small holes. It comes in round wheels from pasteurized cow’s milk or a mixture that includes a small percentage of sheep and goat’s milk.
“According to mythology, the Gods of Olympus decided to gift mortals with something that would have an ever-lasting value, and so they taught them how to make cheese.”
It is produced in the prefecture of Chania, Crete, from sheep or goat’s milk or a combination of the two. It is a white table cheese with a fresh taste and aroma. It has a 65% maximum humidity and a 50% minimum dry fat content. It is produced in units located in the same area where the milk used is also produced.
It is a rare cow’s milk cheese from the island of Syros that probably would not exist if it weren’t for a special breed of cows brought by the Venetians that came to rule the island in the 16th century. The cheese has a firm texture, while its buttery aroma is reminiscent of Parmesan. It is named for a Catholic monastery on the island.
Formaella Arachovas Parnassou
It is traditionally produced in the municipality of Arachova Parnassus from goat or sheep’s milk or a combination of the two. It is a semi-hard cheese with a peppery taste and rich aroma that is consumed as a table cheese after maturing for at least three months. It can also be melted in “saganaki” (fried cheese).
Xygalo Siteias / Xigalo Siteias
PDO Xygalo Siteias or Xigalo Siteias is a soft cheese made with goat or sheep’s milk or a mixture of the two. It is produced in a small area located in the easternmost portion of the island of Crete, southeast of the city of Heraklion.
Sfela is produced in Southern Peloponnese from fresh, non-pasteurized sheep or goat’s milk or a combination of the two, and comes in rectangular pieces weighing 1kg. It is a semi-hard brine cheese with many small cuts and semi-hard consistency.
Ladotyri Mytilinis is produced in the island of Lesvos from sheep’s milk or a combination with goat’s milk. Its main characteristic is that it is stored in olive oil, which is why it is called “ladotyri” (literally “oil cheese”).
Batzos is produced in the regions of Western and Central Macedonia and Thessaly from sheep or goat’s milk or a combination of the two. It is a salty, semi-hard to hard cheese which matures and is preserved in brine.
It is produced from sheep’s milk in Crete. When goat’s milk is added, its percentage cannot exceed 20% of the total weight –it is a milk rich in fat and caseins, that are maintained almost entirely during the transformation to cheese.
It is produced in the islands of the Cyclades from sheep, cow or goat’s milk or a combination of all three. It is an off-white in color, creamy cheese, consumed as a table cheese or in cheese pies and as a starter with wine and ouzo.
Xynomyzithra Kritis is a curd cheese that is produced in Crete from sheep or goat’s milk or a combination of the two. It is a soft, creamy cheese with grains in its mass. It is white, shapeless and without a rind.
Kefalograviera is produced in the regions of Western Macedonia, Epirus and the prefecture of Aetolia-Acarnania from sheep’s milk or a combination with goat’s milk. It has a hard and thin rind and yellow to light brown color.
It is produced in Grevena and Kozani from sheep or goat’s milk or a combination of the two. It is a soft, grainy cheese, white in color, of no particular shape, and is usually served with a spoon.
It is a brine cheese, produced in the island of Limnos from sheep’s milk or a combination with goat’s milk. Its mass is white and it bears the marks of the willow basket in which it has matured.
It is produced in the regions of Macedonia, Thessaly and in the prefectures of Lesvos and Xanthi from sheep’s milk or a combination with goat’s milk. It is a semi-hard to hard cheese with a compact mass. It can be cylindrical or rectangular in shape.
Manouri is a curd cheese, produced in Thessaly, Central Macedonia and Western Macedonia from sheep’s milk or in combination with goat’s milk. It is also produced from curd and fresh full-fat milk or even fresh cream. It is a soft, white cheese with a compact mass, without rind. It is found in various sizes and weights. It has a pleasant, sweet taste and aroma.