The most suitable milk for Feta cheese is sheep's milk but a mixture of sheep's and goat's milk may be used. However, the percentage of goat's milk in the mixture is not allowed to exceed 30% (4). Goat's milk alone can also be used for pickled cheese manufacture, but the cheese, although appreciated by consumers preferring a stronger taste, is not allowed to be called Feta. The production of sheep's and goat's milk is seasonal (December/ January to June/July); therefore, the activities of Feta cheese plants are restricted to only 6-8 months.
There is a significant variation in fat content during lactation, with lower values, at least for sheep's milk, corresponding to the beginning of the warm period. Protein in sheep's milk increases regularly as lactation advances (5). Thus, the fat content of artisanal cheeses usually depends on the production time. In contrast, in modern cheese plants the milk is standardized to a casein-to-fat ratio of 0.7-0.8; the fat content of the cheese is therefore more stable. For public health reasons, the milk is pasteurized and cooled to 34°C before the addition of starter culture. However, in small cheese plants or farms, the milk usually receives a thermal treatment lower than necessary for pasteurization conditions. In this case, part of the indigenous flora of the milk may survive, influencing the course of ripening and the release of flavor compounds.
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