The real Greek: why authenticity matters

Daria Razorenova of Dodoni explains why authenticity is important when it comes to buying Greek cheese, and highlights why it has become such a popular variety of cheese.

Greek cheeses are one of the most popular varieties available in the UK, behind traditionally made British cheeses, with feta and halloumi a staple in many of our shopping baskets.

Both Greece and Cyprus have a long history of producing cheese. Feta, for example, has been made using the same methods as far back as the 8th Century BC, and many Cypriot families have recipes for halloumi that are handed down through generations. Alongside these well-known Greek cheeses, other varieties are becoming more sought after in the UK, including graviera – a hard cheese with a slightly sweet flavour, and kefalotyri – a traditional hard cheese with a tangy flavour and dry texture. The popular fried cheese dish saganaki has also gained a following.

Accept no imitations

Greek cheeses have become more recognised and widely available over the last decade thanks to many factors. Feta and halloumi are both easy to use in the kitchen, whether adding to summer salads or baking with vegetables – indeed they are a popular vegetarian substitute for those avoiding meat. Thanks to Greece being one of the most visited holiday destinations for British travellers, we have immersed ourselves in Greek cuisine and want to recreate it at home.

However, with this popularity it has become apparent that more imitation versions are making their way into the market, with ‘salad cheese’ and ‘grilling cheese’ seen alongside feta and halloumi in most UK supermarkets. With these imitation products becoming available, the flavour of authentic Greek cheese is more important than ever.

Halloumi has become a highly popular cheese around the world and with a consumption of close to 17,000 tonnes, the UK is the largest halloumi importer in the world. Exports from Cyprus have grown by more than 20 percent per annum in recent years.
However, as these copycat cheeses are often sold under the same name, many consumers believe they are experiencing the traditional Cypriot cheese when they aren’t. These cheeses are often made with only cows milk and so take on a different flavour profile and colour to that of authentic halloumi, while the original recipe includes a blend of pasteurised cow, goat and sheep milk.

Greek feta cheese

Genuine feta is a product of Protected Designation of Origin and follows strict rules on how the product is made