A long tradition in dairy and cheese-making

The raising of livestock has traditionally been an important activity in Epirus since its rugged terrain makes agriculture difficult. Epirus accounts for over 45% of the meat sold in the Greek market and is home to some of the country’s major dairy and cheese-making facilities.

Since the animals – mainly sheep and goat - roam freely in the pastures, up in the mountains, they graze on a variety of grass and herbs, some of which only grow in Epirus; this accounts for the exceptional quality of the milk produced in the region.

The city of Ioannina, situated on the lake that goes by the same name, is home to the country’s only School of Dairy Studies, where cheese-making is taught. A historical school founded almost 100 years ago, it accounts for some of Greece’s top cheese-makers. Students here are taught subjects such as Milk Technology and Food Health & Safety while gaining hands-on expertise working as trainees in the area’s cheese-making facilities.

The unique taste and quality of the milk produced by the region’s livestock along with the cheese-making skills of the locals led to the production of several traditional, distinctive cheeses. Four of these cheeses have now been awarded PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status as directed by the European Union: internationally known Feta cheese, soft white Galotiri, hard yellow Kefalograviera and Metsovone, a smoked cheese produced from cow’s milk in the village of Metsovo.

What to look for in PDO Feta

  • Produced exclusively from fresh pasteurized sheep’s milk or a mix of sheep and goat’s milk
  • Color: bright white
  • Texture: Compact, not crumbly, with few holes and a rich aroma
  • Its salt content should be high enough to give it its characteristic taste, without the cheese being too salty (too much salt is usually used as camouflage…)
  • The minimum maturing period for Feta as set by the law is 2 months

 

What to look for in PDO Kefalograviera

  • Produced exclusively from pasteurized goat & sheep’s milk
  • Hard, compact cheese
  • Characteristic spicy taste and rich aroma
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