AskDefine | Define feta

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Alternative spellings



  1. A variety of curd cheese made from sheep’s or goat’s milk and originating from Greece.


a variety of curd cheese



  1. Feta



  1. a kind of cheese



  1. see fet

Extensive Definition

In Greek cuisine, Feta () is a brined curd cheese traditionally made in Greece with ewe's and goat's milk. Since 2005, feta has been a protected designation of origin in the European Union, and defined as having at least 70% sheep's milk, with the remainder being goat’s milk. Outside the EU, cheeses sold as 'feta' may include cow's milk.
Feta is an aged cheese, commonly produced in blocks, and has a slightly grainy texture. It is used as a table cheese, as well as in salads, pastries and in baking, notably in the popular phyllo-based dishes spanakopita ("spinach pie") and tyropita ("cheese pie").
Similar white brined cheeses (often called 'white cheese' in the various languages) are found in the eastern Mediterranean and around the Black Sea.
Feta is salted and cured in a brine solution (based on water or whey) for several months. Feta dries out rapidly when removed from the brine. Feta cheese is white, usually formed into square cakes, and can range from soft to semi-hard, with a tangy, salty flavor that can range from mild to sharp. The cured cheese easily crumbles. Its fat content can range from 30 to 60 percent; most is around 45 percent milk fat. Most feta cheese has a pH of 4.4 to 4.9.
Feta is also an important ingredient of Greek salad. Feta, like most cheeses, can also be served cooked; it is sometimes grilled as part of a sandwich or as a salty alternative to other cheeses in a variety of dishes.


Feta cheese is first recorded in the Byzantine Empire, under the name πρόσφατος (prósphatos, "recent", i.e. fresh), and was associated specifically with Crete. An Italian visitor to Candia in 1494 describes its storage in brine clearly.
The Greek word "feta" comes from the Italian word fetta ("slice") and that from Latin offa "bite, morsel". It was introduced in Greek in the 17th century, likely referring to the method of cutting the cheese in thin slices to serve on a plate.
Traditionally, feta has been made by peasants in the lower Balkan peninsula from sheep's milk, although goat's milk has been used in more recent times. It is also used for banitsa.


After a long legal battle with Denmark, which produced a cheese under the same name using artificially blanched cow's milk, the term "feta" is since July 2002 a protected designation of origin (PDO), which limits the term within the European Union to feta made exclusively of sheep's/goat's milk in Greece. According to the Commission, the biodiversity of the land coupled with the special breeds of sheep and goats used for milk is what gives feta cheese a specific aroma and flavor.
When needed to describe an imitation to feta, names such as "salad cheese" and "Greek-style cheese" are used. The European Commission gave other nations five years to find a new name for their "feta" cheese, or to stop production.

Similar cheeses around the world

Similar cheeses are common in Albania (djath), Bulgaria (sirene сирене), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (бело сирење, belo sirenje; 'white cheese'), Serbia (sir сир), Israel, Turkey (beyaz peynir 'white cheese'), Egypt (domiati), and Sudan (gibna beyda), Romania (brânză telemea), Russia (brynza, брынза), Ukraine (brynza, бринза), Iran (panir liqvan), Malta (Ġbejna tan- nagħaġ) , and other countries. In some of these countries, the name "feta" is used interchangeably with the native, while in others "feta" is not used at all or refers to other (mainly imported) types of cheese.


  • Andrew Dalby, Siren Feasts: A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece, Routledge, 1996. ISBN 0-415-11620-1.


External links

feta in Catalan: Feta
feta in Czech: Balkánský sýr
feta in Danish: Feta
feta in German: Feta
feta in Modern Greek (1453-): Φέτα (τυρί)
feta in Spanish: Feta
feta in Esperanto: Feta-fromaĝo
feta in French: Feta
feta in Galician: Feta
feta in Italian: Feta
feta in Hebrew: פטה
feta in Dutch: Feta
feta in Japanese: フェタチーズ
feta in Polish: Feta
feta in Portuguese: Feta
feta in Russian: Фета
feta in Finnish: Feta
feta in Swedish: Fetaost
feta in Ukrainian: Фета
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