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!
5 of the Healthiest Cheeses You Never Knew About… or Did You?
Cheese gets a might bad rap for clogging arteries and packing on the pounds. But just because you shouldn’t eat an entire platter of Paula Deen’s cheese balls doesn’t mean you have to avoid cheese altogether.
Cheese can be both delicious and a great source of lean protein, calcium, phosphorus, and other health benefits — if you choose the right varieties. Here are five cheeses that belong on any shopping list.
A key component of Greek cuisine, feta is lower in fat and calories than most cheeses, says Natalie Caine-Bish, an associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Kent State University. A one-ounce serving — enough to make a Greek salad lover happy — has 4 grams of protein and only 74 calories.
Caine-Bish says feta’s characteristic strong flavor means you can get away with using less cheese without feeling cheated. Feta’s salty flavor makes it a good choice to crumble on salads and soups. It also pairs well with sweeter produce, like watermelon or sweet potatoes.
Tip: Although domestic feta is often made with cow’s milk, Greek feta is made from sheep or goat’s milk, which makes it a good choice for someone with problems digesting bovine dairy products. Keep in mind, though, that unpasteurized feta and other soft cheeses have a higher risk of containing the Listeria bacteria than other cheeses — so be sure to buy pasteurized feta if you’ll be serving it to a pregnant woman or someone with a compromised immune system.
2. String cheese
Seriously. String cheese, that favorite kid snack, is a great choice for adults too.
For starters, if you choose string cheese made of part-skim mozzarella, it’s low in calories and high in protein (a one-ounce serving has 71 calories and 7 grams of protein).
What’s more, string cheese isn’t actually a processed cheese — mozzarella naturally behaves in that stringy way, so it counts as a whole food. (Just make sure to buy string cheese that’s 100 percent mozzarella.)
Tip: String cheese is “quick and easy — grab and go, and already portioned out for you,” says Silvia Veri, the nutrition supervisor at Beaumont Health System’s Weight Control Center in Royal Oak, Michigan. The fact that it’s prepackaged makes it handy for healthy snacks at work, between errands, or at home.
Like feta, Parmesan is a great choice because just a little packs a potent, nutty punch.
Parmigiano-Reggiano comes from the Parma area of Italy, and its strong flavor has inspired a lot of buzz throughout history: Samuel Pepys famously buried his Parmesan cheese to keep it safe during the Great Fire of London, and Boccacio, in The Decameron, imagines a mountain of Parmesan inhabited by macaroni and ravioli makers.
Parmesan is relatively low in calories (110 in a one-ounce serving), but it’s high in sodium (449 milligrams for the same serving size), so be sure to use it in moderation.
Tip: Try shaving pieces onto a salad or eating small slices with ripe apples or pears, in addition to grating it over pasta and pizza.
Swiss is another strong cheese that’s good for you. What we call Swiss cheese is often Swiss Emmentaler (or Emmental), though other cheeses with a similar taste and hole-studded texture are sometimes lumped in as well.
Swiss is a popular cheese, and Caine-Bish likes it specifically for that reason. Since it comes in a number of varieties, including low-sodium or low-fat, it’s easy to find a version that fits your dietary needs.
As a hard cheese, Swiss is also richer in phosphorus than nearly all soft cheeses. According to Caine-Bish, “Calcium and phosphorus are key to bone formation and to maintaining bone density” — important for women of any age.
Tip: Try adding a slice to your sandwich or grating a few ounces into scrambled or baked eggs. Small slices or cubes make a great snack, especially with fruit instead of crackers.
5. Cottage cheese
There’s a reason dieters love cottage cheese: It’s high in protein, low in fat (if you buy a low-fat variety), and versatile enough to add to most any meal or snack.
“You can eat it with almost anything,” says Veri. “You can eat it with veggies and make it savory, or add fruit and cinnamon and make it sweet.”
A one-ounce serving of low-fat cottage cheese has 3 grams of protein and only 20 calories. Like all cheeses, it’s also high in calcium.
Indian paneer, Mexican queso fresco, and other types of farmer’s cheese are simply pressed versions of cottage cheese. If you are the DIY-type, this cheese and its firmer derivatives are some of the easiest cheeses to make at home.
Tip: Cottage cheese can have a lot of sodium, especially when it’s low-fat or nonfat. Be sure to check the nutrition label on the container before buying it. Some companies, such as Lucerne and Friendship Dairy, make no-salt-added versions.
Feta: It’s All Greek To Me!
The History of Feta
Feta literally means slice
The history of cheese has been around since the birth of humanity, and is connected to the taming of domestic animals over 10,000 years ago. The roots of cheese making are not known with certainty, however, it is believed that cheese was first produced roughly 8.000 years ago. It is very likely its discovery was completely accidental, during transport of milk in stomachs of young animals.
To the modern consumer, the word Feta means brine cheese, produced in Greece, using specific technology from sheep and goat milk. According to Greek mythology, the gods sent Aristaios, son of Apollo, to teach Greeks the art of cheese making.
There are many records regarding production and consumption of cheese in ancient Greece, from Aristoteles, Pythagoras and other ancient comedy writers. It has been known at least since Homer’s time. The cheese that was prepared by Cyclope Polyfimos and described in the 8th B.C. century in Homer’s Odyssey, is considered to be the ancestor of Feta:
“We entered the cave, but he wasn’t there, only his plump sheep grazed in the meadow. The woven baskets were full of cheese, the folds were full of sheep and goats and all his pots, tubs and churns where he drew the milk, were full of whey. When half of the snow-white milk curdled he collected it put it in the woven baskets and kept the other half in a tub to drink. Why my good ram are you the last to leave the fold? You have never been left behind by the flock before. You were always first walking ahead to graze the tender sheets of grass.”
According to myth, Cyclope Polyfimos was the first to prepare cheese. Transporting the milk that he collected from his sheep in skinbags made of animal stomachs, one day he realized to his great surprise that the milk had curdled and had taken a solid, tasty and conservable form.
In the museum of Delphi, a statuette of the 6th B.C. century can be found that depicts the exit of Ulysses hanging under the Cyclopes favorite ram. 8,000 years later the way Feta is produced remains much the same, differing only in areas such as automation and packaging.
The ancient Greeks called the product that emanated from the coagulation of milk “cheese”. The name Feta, literally meaning “slice,” originated in the 17th century, and probably refers to the practice of slicing up cheese to be placed into barrels—a tradition still practiced today. The name Feta prevailed in the 19th century, and since then has characterized a cheese that has been prepared for centuries using the same general technique, and whose origin is lost in time.
In the 20th century a mass immigration of Greeks to various countries took place mainly to Australia, the United States, Canada and Germany. As a result, numerous Greek communities were formed abroad, whose members maintained to a large extent their dietary habits. Thus, new markets were created for Feta cheese in different parts of the world, resulting in the growth of Feta’s international trade.
Feta really is Greek
The European Commission has instituted the protection of the geographical origin of various products, through their characterization as products of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
In today’s globalization era, safeguarding origin names and the right to use these against producers providing the markets with imitations is not an easy process. Insofar as a specific product is connected in consumer minds to a specific name place, in a way that a mere mention of the product name, brings its place of production immediately to mind, it is fair and in accordance to international treaties to protect its origin name.
Initially Feta was established according to the regulation 1107/96 as a product of Protected Designation of Origin based on the terms laid out by EU regulation 2081/92 regarding the conditions for a product to be characterized as such. However, some member states appealed to the European Court for the annulment of this decision. Their position was that the name Feta had become a common one. The European Court decided the partial annulment of the regulation 1107/96, removing the name Feta from the protected geographical indication register. The thinking behind this decision was that during establishment of Feta as PDO, the Commission had not taken into account the analysis of the situation in other member states regarding the documentation of the authenticity of its origin.
After a thorough analysis regarding the situation in member states, from which it was revealed that the origin of Feta is indeed Greek, and after a recommendation from a scientific commission, the Commission suggested the re-registration of Feta in the rule (ΕC) 1107/96. The name Feta was re-introduced in the PDO registry with the (EC) 1829/2002 ruling of the Commission in October of 2002.
The Cheese Report Card: A Guide to the Best Cheeses
Though high in saturated fats, it provides many essential nutrients including protein, vitamin D and zinc as well as calcium.
Here’s a round-up of your favourite cheeses and how healthy they are. All figures are based on a healthy portion size of 30 grams (a matchbox-size chunk).
120 calories, 9 g fat, 290 mg calciumVery high protein, with a matching high-mineral content. A 30g portion of Emmenthal provides more than a third of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of calcium and nearly a tenth of the RDA for zinc – essential for healthy skin, reproductive health and the immune system.
Health score: 8/10
96 calories, 8 g fat, 162 mg calcium
Most people assume it is one of the fattiest cheeses, but it has lower levels than cheddar or stilton and a good quantity of calcium. It is also a reasonable source of zinc and the rind is rich in vitamin B1 – essential for cells to release energy.
Health score: 6/10
89 calories, 7 g fat, 105 mg calcium
Camembert has a third less fat and a quarter fewer calories than hard cheeses. It is high in folic acid which the body needs to make red blood cells, though pregnant women (who need a higher intake of folic acid) should avoid Camembert.
Health score: 5/10
136 calories, 9.8 g fat, 360 mg calcium
Extremely high in calcium, just a tablespoon of Parmesan grated over pasta supplies 15 per cent of the RDA. It is also the best cheese for zinc, although it is high in salt.
Health score: 9/10
29 calories, 1.2 g fat, 22 mg calcium
This is the only truly low-fat cheese, making it ideal for slimmers. But the downside is a low calcium content, which reduces its nutritional rating compared with other cheeses.
Health score: 5/10
124 calories, 10.3 g fat, 216 mg calcium
One of the highest-fat cheeses, but it’s also a good source of calcium and zinc. A national favourite, nonetheless.
Health score: 6/10
78 calories, 4.5 g fat, 252 mg calcium
Also higher in protein, calcium and zinc than normal cheddar. But on the downside, it’s a bit lower in vitamins A and D.
Health score: 9/10
132 calories, 14.2 g fat, 29 mg calcium
The unhealthiest cheese as it is close to 50 per cent pure fat and has only a fraction of the calcium content of many hard cheeses.
Health score: 2/10
100 calories, 7.6 g fat, 231 mg calcium
Contains a medium amount of fat, is rich in calcium, but high in salt so is not advisable for high blood pressure sufferers.
Health score: 8/10
59 calories, 4.7 g fat, 57 mg calcium
Low in calories and richer in vitamin D (an important bone-strengthener) compared with cow’s milk cheeses, although it is not a great source of calcium or zinc.
Health score: 6/10
Processed cheese slices
78 calories, 5.6 g fat, 213 mg calcium
Rich in calcium and lower in unhealthy saturated fats than unprocessed cheese. Gets its dubious ‘plastic appeal’ from added milk proteins, modified starch, preservatives and emulsifiers.
Health score: 6/10
75 calories, 6 g fat, 108 mg calcium
Made with sheep’s milk, it has a moderate amount of calcium and fewer calories than half-fat cheddar. Feta is also a better source of vitamin D than cow’s milk cheese, but is also the saltiest variety – a 30g portion has a fifth of the daily guideline intake for women.
Health score: 7/10
90 calories, 7.5 g fat, 155 mg calcium
A medium-fat cheese which can be disproportionately high in unhealthy saturates. However, it has a good calcium content.
Health score: 7/10
56 calories, 4.4 g fat, 63 mg calcium
Fairly low in fat and salt, and contains low to medium amounts of calcium.
Health score: 7/10
123 calories, 10.7 g fat, 96 mg calcium
Similar to cheddar in fat and calories, but has a much lower calcium content. It is high in folic acid, though, like all blue-veined cheese, it is not suitable for pregnant women as it carries a listeria risk.
Health score: 4/10
Be sure to stop by Shisler’s Cheese House to pick up your supply of healthy cheeses or order online here!