Feta Cheese vs. Goat Cheese: Quite the Cheesy Argument
Ever wonder where the differences lie between feta and goat cheese? While many people refer to feta as a goat cheese, feta actually has a higher sheep’s milk content than goats’ milk content. According to the regulations surrounding the official name ‘feta’, no more than 30% of a feta cheese’s milk can come from goats; at least 70% of the milk has to be sheep’s milk. If a feta cheese has more than 30% goats’ milk in it, it is not, officially speaking, a feta cheese.
Goat cheese, as can be inferred from the name, is made from goats’ milk. Therefore, the difference between feta cheese and goat cheese is that goat cheese is 100% goats’ milk, and feta cheese is made up of sheep’s milk, plus some varying amount of goats’ milk, up to, but not exceeding, 30% of the total milk used to make the cheese. Despite this difference in content, there are good reasons why feta and goat cheese often get mixed up.
Feta cheese has a long tradition of being made in Mediterranean countries, where it is required that feta be aged at least three months. Just like the milk content is checked to make sure that the cheese can be classified as feta, the amount of time the cheese has been allowed to ripen is also checked in order to ensure that it can accurately be called a feta cheese.
The actual name ‘feta’ comes from Greek, meaning ‘a slice or a morsel’, and feta cheese is closely associated with many Greek dishes. Many recipes calling for feta cheese are variations on Greek salads, which often feature feta and olives, or variations on cooked feta, such as what has come to be known as Spanakopita, a Greek puff pastry filled with feta cheese, spinach, and spices.
Unlike feta cheese, goat cheese is traditionally made from 100% goats’ milk. Most common in France, goat cheeses are usually aged for a shorter period of time than feta cheeses. While fetas must be aged at least three months, many variants of goat cheese are ready for consumption very soon after the cheese has been formed and salted during the goat cheese making process. Other variants of goat cheese can be aged much longer, with some being aged for a month and others having three months or more to mature.
Generally speaking, the longer the goat cheese is aged, the stronger the flavor of the cheese becomes. When in France, it is a delight to explore the many varieties of goat cheese that are some of the favorite French cheeses. Trying both young and aged goat cheeses provides a very different experience of the taste of goat cheese; if you’re buying goat cheese in a shop where there is no shopkeeper to advise you on flavor, remember that the outside rind of a goat cheese becomes progressively darker with age. If you’d like a young goat cheese, choose the whitest rind you see; the darker rinds have more mature goat cheeses inside.
Difference Between Feta Cheese and Goat Cheese Tastes
While both of these cheeses are white in color and on the ‘soft’ side of the cheese spectrum, their flavors are actually quite different from one another. While the dominant flavor most people experience in feta cheese is a salty taste, goat cheeses are usually experienced as soft and sweet in flavor. Of course, different varieties of goat cheese (aged different lengths of time) have different flavors; however, aging goat cheese will not make it taste saltier. Instead, the flavor will become stronger in aged cheeses, but stronger in complexity, not in saltiness.
Both feta and goat cheese can be eaten cold or hot. Experiment with different types of recipes for these two delectable cheeses and you’re sure to find ways that you enjoy both types of cheese!