Undoubtedly, cheese is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet. Also many people work in cheese production. It is a product rich in nutrients, prepared by processing the milk of cow, sheep, goat or buffalo.
The history of cheese
The history of cheese-making is lost in the depths of prehistory. No one knows how it first appeared or how the processing of milk in order to turn it into cheese was introduced.
The beginning of cheese-making, according to historians, took place after the domestication of the first ruminants, around 8000 BC. A legend attributes the preparation of the first cheese to a random event. Once upon a time, a merchant crossed the desert carrying milk in a pouch made of sheep stomach.
The heat of the desert and the presence of natural rennet on the wall of the container, caused the milk to ferment which “cut”, that is, it was separated into cheese and whey. The merchant tasted it, was fed up with the cheese, quenched his thirst with the whey and tried to reproduce the process, thus beginning the art of cheese-making.
In ancient Greece, cheese-making had already developed in the years of Homer. In fact, in the Odyssey, reference is made to the cheeses prepared by Cyclops Polyphemus in his cave from the milk of his sheep. However, cheese-making in a more organized form developed later, in Roman times.
How many types of cheese are there?
Cheese is the most popular dairy product in the world. There are hundreds of types of cheese and thousands of variations of them, while most people have to display dozens of local cheese products.
There are many ways to divide cheese into types, and all cheeses belong to more than one category at a time. For example, there are soft, semi-hard and hard, sweet and salty, yellow, blue and white, fresh and long ripening, those that melt at high temperature and those that remain solid, etc.
What are the most popular types of cheese in the world?
The most popular types of cheese worldwide are parmesan and mozzarella from Italy, cheddar from England, French Brie, Dutch Gouda and of course Greek feta, which is gaining more and more fans all over the world. Both its flavor and the worldwide spread of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet have boosted feta sales in Europe and America.
How are cheeses combined?
The delicious combinations of cheeses are unlimited. Almost all cheeses can be eaten alone or in combination with other cheeses and cold cuts. Usually in a plate of cheeses and cold cuts, the mild ones coexist with the most intense and spicy flavors.
The cheeses are combined with all kinds of baked goods such as bread, rusks, breadsticks, etc., as well as fruits such as figs, grapes and watermelon. Some cheeses such as gruyere and cream cheese go well with honey, creating interesting and special combinations.
The wine that traditionally accompanies yellow cheeses is dry red, while white cheeses go best with mild, fresh, white wines.
As for beer, it has always been a perfect pair with cheese. The connoisseurs even claim that the darker the color of the cheese, the darker the color of the beer. That is why they combine white cheeses with blond beers, light yellow cheeses with red beers and yellow and blue cheeses with dark beers.
What is the nutritional value of cheese?
Cheese has great nutritional value, as it contains all the benefits of milk in high concentration and is more digestible. Contains 10-30% proteins of high nutritional value. In fact, hard cheeses contain more protein than even meat.
Cheeses contain fats that depending on their type range from 1% to 50%. Low fat cheeses that do not lack rich flavor are now widely available on the market, while they are suitable for those who follow a low fat diet.
The calcium contained in cheeses is more easily digested by the human body than that of milk, while it is also found in much higher concentrations, especially in yellow cheeses.
Also, cheese contains linoleic acid which can potentially reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease. Finally, in small quantities it can be consumed by people who are lactose intolerant as it contains much less lactose than milk.
Greek cheese production
Greece produces a wide variety of cheese products, based mainly on goat’s and sheep’s milk.Let’s see some of the most popular Greek cheeses and their characteristics.
The most common Greek cheese. It is a soft, white, salty cheese, made from sheep’s or goat’s milk, has a sour taste and is preserved in brine. It is usually eaten raw, plain, in a salad, accompanied by fruit, or used to fill pies, baked or fried.
It is a hard cheese that looks like gruyere but has a saltier taste. Produced from sheep’s or goat’s milk. It is usually not consumed plain but grated, flavoring the pasta with its spark.
A very hard cheese, with a spicy salty taste produced either from sheep, goat or goat’s and sheep’s milk. Its rich aroma is due to its minimal maturation in three months. Its color varies depending on the milk mixture used in its production.
Mizithra is a special cheese produced by mixing whey with fresh sheep’s or goat’s milk. We find it either dry, ideal for rubbing, or green, eaten raw or as an accompaniment to fruits and pastries.