FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Cheese specialists say that cheese should be eaten raw, as an accompaniment to meals, at breakfast or in salads. Some cheeses though are equally tasty when baked, such as Feta, GOAT CHEESE, Graviera and Kefalotiri. Others can be cooked, with other ingredients, in sauces, various pies, even cakes. These are Feta, Zimithra and Logadi. One should keep in mind that hardness, taste, texture and salt content vary between cheeses; one must therefore be careful when choosing cheese for cooking.
Special cheese knives, found in home-ware stores and in the home-ware sections of large supermarkets, have two small prongs at the end that help in the serving of small pieces of cheese. Depending on the kind of cheese you may need a serrated or a plain cheese knife. What is also useful is a cheese board both for cutting and serving.
One can cut cheese in various shapes: slices are very common and so are wedges and cubes. Hard cheese, such as kefalograviera, graviera and Kefalotiri can of course be grated.
We eat cheese everyday at the family table but it can also be served on special occasions, more “formally”. As cheese is kept in the fridge, often in a special container, for everyday use you just bring out the container, cut as much cheese as wanted and then return the container to the fridge at the end of every meal. If you do not have a special container you may keep cheese well wrapped in plastic wrap. For a formal occasion, when you are serving more than one cheese, you will need a large cheese board or platter with enough space for at least 4 large pieces of cheese.
Cheese should ideally be served at room temperature, to fully enjoy its aroma and taste; this means it should be taken out of the refrigerator at least 1/2 hour before serving, with the exception of white cheeses that only need 10 minutes at room temperature or their texture spoils and they may sour.
You should ideally consume the cheese you buy within 2-3 days. If you do not go to the supermarket very often or want to have cheese in the house at all times, it’s best to buy branded, vacuum-packed yellow cheese or white cheese pre-packed in brine.
Cheese needs to be sealed in plastic wrap to protect it from drying up and from absorbing other smells in the fridge. The alternative is a dedicated cheese container; soft and hard cheese should be stored separately at all times. Every time you want to use some cheese, cut as much as you need and then wrap the remainder carefully and put it back in the fridge. Remember not to pack things too tightly in the refrigerator, leaving space among containers so that the cool air can flow unimpeded.
Is it best to use EPIROS Concentrated Butter as soon as I remove it from the refrigerator?
No. It’s best to leave it outside the fridge before using it, letting it soften on its own. Only when one is making the traditional Christmas treat “kourabies” is it recommended to beat the butter cold – congealed – with the confectioner’s sugar.
Is EPIROS Concentrated Butter appropriate for any baked good or just the traditional Greek ones?
EPIROS Concentrated Butter can be generally used in baking without a problem. One could in fact partly replace regular butter with EPIRUS butter in most recipes in order to give the cakes a more intense aroma.
Cakes in particular taste great when brushed with EPIROS Concentrated Butter as soon as they come out of the oven as it is absorbed immediately leaving just its characteristic smell. When mixed in the dough for any type of sweet bread (such as tsoureki or vassilopitta) or brioches it produces very aromatic results.
Cheese can be classified in different groups according to:
- The provenance of the milk i.e. sheep’s, cow’s, goat’s or a combination of these (such as Feta that is produced from sheep’s and goat’s milk).
- Their composition and their levels of humidity: hard (e.g. Kefalograviera), semi-hard (e.g. Kasseri) and soft (e.g. Anthotiro (soft whey cheese))
- Their fat content: full fat or low fat (light)
- Their origin (where they are produced): e.g. Mytilene Kasseri or Cretan Graviera.
1. The name Feta is recognized as Controlled Designation of Origin (PDO).
2. It has to be produced exclusively from fresh pasteurized sheep’s milk or a mix of sheep’s and goat’s milk.
3. Feta should be bright white. Its texture, when cutting it, should be compact not crumbly, it should have few holes and a rich aroma.
4. When eaten Feta should melt nicely in the mouth leaving a pleasant, characteristic taste.
5. At points of sale Feta should be kept in a refrigerated space at 2-6° C.
6. Its salt content should be high enough to give it its characteristic tastiness; too much salt usually hides something…
7. You should be very cautious when you find Feta sold at a price that is considerable lower than the market median. Remember that price is dependent on quality.
8. When purchasing pre-packed Feta always check the packaging; it should be sealed and airtight. Also, make sure the expiration date is at least a month away which means the cheese will be fresh.
9. As all cheeses Feta is at its best for a short period of time. This is why it is better to buy it in small quantities that will be consumed in a few days or else to buy branded pre-packed Feta from the supermarket.
10. Always ask for Feta by name as this means you are buying cheese whose quality is guaranteed by the producer. Choose Feta that is produced in metal containers over the one that is produced wooden barrels as this production method is more hygienic, safe and clean.
If the mold is on the surface you can remove it with a knife (to be on the safe side remove 1cm from the surface of yellow cheese and 2cm from white cheese) and eat it immediately. If you leave the cheese in the fridge after having removed the mold, it will become moldy again faster.
Cheese is a great source of protein that is necessary for the dietary needs of humans. Protein is created by a total of 22 amino-acids, of which 8 are essential. If one of the amino-acids is missing from the human body or its levels are very low, then the remaining amino-acids do not function properly. Cheese is a source of the type of protein (complete protein) that retains the balance of the 8 essential amino-acids, which means it should be an integral part of every diet.
Cheese retains most of the nutrients of the milk it is produced from.
It is a source of protein, especially casein, b-lacto-globulin and a-lacto-albumin. In other words, it “inherits” 4/5 of the protein from which it has been produced. This protein has high biological value, similar to that found in meat, and this is why cheese is often used as a substitute for meat. There are studies that show that the structural ingredients of casein, cheese’s main protein, are very active in our body, controlling our blood pressure, fortifying our immune system, protecting our bones and teeth etc. (L. Ebringer et al., 2008, Meisel, 2001).
Milk may be an excellent source of carbohydrates, mainly lactose, cheese, however, contains very little lactose. This occurs because, during the production and maturing of cheese, lactose becomes diluted by micro-organisms and various enzymes.
Cheese is an integral part of a Greek’s diet. Its taste and nutritional value along with the age-old involvement of Greeks in livestock farming and cheese-making, has given it a prominent position on our tables. Today, cheese is an essential ingredient of our diet because:
• It is an important source of nutrients such as calcium and animal protein, especially for those individuals who do not consume other dairy products or meat.
• It adds taste to our food and is easily digested.
• It is an essential part of Greek productivity.
• It is an alternative way of preserving milk.
1. You can eat it instead of meat
Cheese is an important source of high-value protein, the same as the protein found in meat. This is why it is often used in vegetarian diets in order to cover the body’s need for protein; it is also often consumed in Mediterranean countries, replacing meat in vegetable dishes.
2. A source of calcium
Cheese is high in calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, nutrients that contribute to the smooth development and maintenance of a healthy bone structure. The calcium content varies from cheese to cheese. So cheese supplements with calcium the diet of children, of adults with a hectic lifestyle as well as of those suffering from lactose intolerance, as it’s a dairy product that contains almost no lactose.
3. There is a light version!
Low fat dairy products offer the nutritional value of cheese with reduced saturated fats and calories. There is in fact research that shows that the consumption of low fat dairy is related to the reduction of fat accumulation indices, such as the waistline and the percentage of body fat. Meanwhile low fat cheese retains its minerals and vitamins while, with the right recipe and maturing process, it has the taste and aroma of regular cheese.
4. It is one more way to consume dairy
Cheese can be served with vegetables and fruit in tasty combinations. This means it becomes a useful ally of those who do not normally enjoy eating these foods.
Calcium: It keeps your bones and teeth healthy and strong, helps your heart work properly, maintains the balance of your nervous system and assists the metabolizing of iron in your body. It also prevents insomnia. Calcium in cheese is better absorbed than that found in other foods.
Vitamin Α: It enhances your vision, helps your body’s immune system, it contributes to development, as well as to strong bones, healthy skin, hair, teeth and gums.
Vitamin Β2: It helps development and reproduction. It contributes to the development of healthy skin, nails and hair. It helps vision and reduces tiredness in the eyes. It collaborates with other ingredients for the metabolizing of carbohydrates, fats and protein.
Vitamin Β12: It forms and revives red blood cells, preventing anemia. It assists development and encourages children’s appetites. It increases energy levels, keeps the nervous system healthy and helps the body make better use of fats, carbohydrates and protein. Finally, it helps improve your memory, concentration and balance.
Vitamin D: It activates calcium and phosphorus (necessary for the smooth operation of the heart and kidneys as well as for healthy teeth and bones). It assists the absorption of vitamin A and helps prevent common colds (in combination with vitamins A and C).
Vitamin Ε: It slows down the aging of cells that is caused by oxidization. It supplies the body with oxygen and improves its stamina. Combined with vitamin A it protects the lungs from atmospheric pollution. During pregnancy it helps prevent abortion.
Vitamin Κ: It helps the correct coagulation of our blood and the prevention of internal bleeding.
Milk and dairy are an important part of a balanced diet. They are a source of nutrients that contribute to the healthy development and maintenance of the human body. For many years popular nutrition included mainly cow dairy. In the past few years however, the global dairy industry has turned to alternative, equally important sources of nutrients, such as sheep’s and goat’s milk and the cheeses produced from these. This change is due not only to increased demand for the specific products but also to the fact that scientific research, in the last decade, has highlighted their beneficial traits that often surpass those of cow’s milk. This holds particularly true for Feta and GOAT CHEESE cheeses that are both part of Greeks’ daily diet.
Both sheep’s and goat’s milk are an important source of basic nutrients, protein, carbohydrates, fats, calcium, vitamins, minerals and traces, at levels that cover a significant percentage of the body’s daily requirements.
We all know cheese comes from milk, some would say a magical product. It’s a balanced foodstuff, containing protein, fat, vitamins, water and salts, all absolutely necessary for the human body. However, this precious foodstuff cannot be preserved for longer than a few days in its original form, whether its pasteurized or not, kept in the refrigerator or elsewhere. Thus, man found various ways to preserve its precious ingredients for as long as possible; one of these ways is the making of cheese. If one wanted to simplify the definition of cheese-making, one would say it’s the separation of the solids of milk from the milk serum, to form a new product, with a different texture, taste and smell, which retains, however, all the good qualities of milk, without altering them in the slightest. Cheese, like milk, contains protein, fats, vitamins A,B,D,E,K, as well as series of salts and traces.
So cheese, along with the rest of the dairy products, including milk, should be definitely consumed 2-3 times daily, because of their high nutritional value.