Feta Cheese

What is feta cheese?

When we look at cheeses around the world it is remarkable how many different types of cheeses are made from the same basic ingredients. Feta is a white cheese that is manufactured in Greece. It is usually made from a combination of sheep and goats milks, however, it can be made from 100% ewes milk. There are plenty of similar cheeses available made outside of Greece however, these are not allowed to be labeled as feta instead they are called by other names e.g apetina.

These days due to European law feta cheese has been given a protected designation of origin status (like champagne), to have the label Feta it must be manufactured in Greece using traditional feta cheese making methods.
Feta cheese is a salty white crumbly cheese, that can either be purchased in blocks in plastic wraps, or it can be found in jars marinated in olive oil and herds.
During the production of feta the cheese is kept in brine for around 3 months, this accounts for the saltiness of the feta cheese.

What does Feta cheese taste like?

The taste of feta is a very sharp, cheesy salty taste and has a very crumbly texture. If bought bottled marinated in olive oil the taste is slightly more mellow.

Is feta fattening?

Feta is a high fat produce, so would be fattening if eaten in large amounts. However because of the strong tangy salty taste a little goes a long way so over consuming this product is probably more unlikely than say a mild cheddar cheese. On average feta contains 21% fat.

Is feta cheese healthy?

As with most cheeses this is high fat, high salt product, so it is advisable to not eat too much feta in any day. A small amount sprinkled on your salad would most likely not not be harmful, if you are in good health. However I would avoid if on a low sodium and or a low fat diet prescribed by your doctor.

How many calories in feta cheese?

Every 100g (3.5oz) of feta contains 1,003kJs (264 kcals).

Is feta cheese pasteurized?

Most feta is made from pasteurized milk. However it is always advisable to check on the packet or bottle  label.
Can you eat feta cheese when pregnant?
Generally yes as most feta cheese are made from pasteurized milk. However it is always a wise precaution to double check on the package label.

Can you freeze feta cheese?

Well I have frozen feta cheese in the past, it was either freeze it or throw it away and really the cheese isn’t quite the same afterwards. So I would only recommend freezing if it would other wise be thrown away.

Recipes with feta cheese

There are hundreds of feta cheese recipes. I personally find the best use of feta is crumbled in a classic Greek salad. However in Greek cuisine feta cheese is used in cooking the feta will melt really well in the heat of the oven or grill. Feta can also be fried to make a Greek appetizer (meze) called Saganaki.

Greek Feta salad

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

2 cucumbers sliced but not too thinly

4 medium tomatoes (these must be ripe) chopped into rough wedges not too small.

1 red onion sliced  thinly

4 tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

200g (7 ozs) feta cheese crumbled

black pitted Greek olives a good handful

Salt and pepper to taste (remember that feta is salty)

Method

In a large bowl mix together the tomatoes, cucumber and red onion. Sprinkle a small amount of salt over. Allow to sit for a few minutes so that the salt can draw the acidic juices from the tomatoes, this will help to produce a dressing when these juices combine with the extra virgin olive oil.

Add the oregano and pour over the olive oil add freshly ground black pepper to taste mix everything well together. Then sprinkle over the crumbled feta cheese and the black olives.

Watermelon salad with feta cheese.

Sounds like a strange combination but it really works?

Serves 6 -8

ingredients

Juice from two limes

1 red onion very thinly sliced

1/2 large watermelon chop the flesh into bite size pieces and remove any seeds.

200g Greek feta cheese cut into cubes

20 Greek black pitted olives

Handful chopped coriander

handful flat parsley

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt (remember that feta is salty) and pepper to taste
method

Add the lime juice tot he red onions, leave for 20 minutes or so, this will have the effect of turning the red onions a bright pink!

Add all the other ingredients to the onions, and season to taste

1.   Mix lime juice into the red onions and leave for 1/2 hour in the fridge. The onions will turn a vivid pink.

2.   Add all other ingredients and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve straight away.

Spinach salad with feta cheese

Serves 6

100 g brined feta cheese (not in olive oil) drained, cut into cubes.
180 g fresh spinach cleaned and stems removed
150 g romaine lettuce broken into bite sized pieces.
300 g fresh mushrooms sliced finely
120 g bacon cut into bite sized pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp pine nuts
Kosher salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Fry the bacon until brown and crunchy, add the mushroom and cook together for a few minutes, drain off any fat.

In a large salad bowl add all the ingredients except the pine nuts mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve.

Beetroot and Feta Salad

Beetroot and feta combined makes a lovely salad, that is especially enjoyable if made from your own homegrown beetroot, which is very easy to grow. However bought beetroot is just fine.

The version below has raw grated beetroot which I love however you could chop up  cooked beetroot into small dice and add these instead if raw beetroot isn’t quite to your taste.

When grating beetroot I find the best results come from running the beetroot though my magimix food processor.

I keep the beetroot and other ingredients apart right until I’m just about to start eating, as the beetroot bleeds, the dish can start to look unappealing if mixed and left uneaten for a while.

Serves 1
200g raw beetroot peeled and grated.
A  small handful of shredded lettuce
60g good-quality feta cheese cut into medium dice
Peeled segments from 1 small orange
2tsp red wine vinegar
A squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, fresh ground black pepper to taste

Put the grated beetroot into the center of a large flat bowl.

Place the orange segments, salad leaves and feta around the edges of the of the beetroot.

Make the dressing by mixing together the red wine vinegar,  lemon juice and olive oil spoon over the salad just before eating.

Mix all the ingredients together just before eating.

I very much hope you enjoy making these Feta Cheese recipes.

 

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