If you pass by the cheese section of any major supermarket or deli store, looking for healthy alternatives to yellow cheeses, you have probably stumbled upon the dilemma of feta cheese versus goat cheese. If you have wondered what their differences are, we are here to help.

The devil is in the details, as they say, so the basic explanation is this:

Feta cheese is made in specific regions of Greece and is mostly made from sheep’s milk. A white cheese can also be called Feta, according to the latest EU regulations, if it is made of a mixture of sheep and goat milk, with goat milk being less than or equal to 30% of the entire mixture, thus making it more flavorsome and nutritious.

In contrast to the above, goat cheese has nothing to do with feta, apart from the fact that is white, and is made entirely from goat’s milk. Pretty clear, right?

Well, there is more to it.

Ever heard of Listeria? It’s a food poisoning causing harmful bacteria. Well, feta cheese contains ‘friendly’ bacteria that make antibiotics, which help kill Listeria, so it’s a prime source of nutritional benefits. Because, ever since it was invented, there were no refrigerating possibilities back then, its cheese mongers decided to add salt, in order to preserve it.

Historically speaking, records indicate that the first consumption of feta was during the Byzantine times, and especially Crete, located in the Mediterranean basin. However, archaeologists discover evidence of a cheese mixture of goat and sheep’s milk, dating as much as 4,000 years ago, which shows how people of the time were actually using it for their nutrition – pretty amazing, if you ask us.

Feta is now made globally, from Greece, where it originated, to the United States and Australia, Bulgaria, Turkey, France, Egypt and many more, with each country to add its own flavor and texture characteristics. However, this type of cheese is protected by EU legislations and only those cheeses manufactured in the Greek regions of Macedonia, Thrace, Thessaly, Central Mainland Greece, the Peloponnese and Lesvos are allowed to be called ‘feta’. Similar cheeses produced elsewhere are often called ‘white cheese’ due these regulations, or sometimes you may see them as “Feta-Type” Feta Like” and the list goes on.

Speaking of regions, each area produces its own type, with a variety of textures, and flavor – and sometimes, firmness, but in general, cheese from Macedonia and Thrace is mild, softer and creamier, less salty with fewer holes. Feta made in Thessaly and Central Greece has a more intense, robust flavor. Peloponnese feta is dryer in texture, full flavored and more open.

On the other hand, goat cheese is mostly made in Greece, France, United Kingdom, Norway, Italy, Spain, Australia, Portugal, even China.
As you can understand, each country produces a different type and taste of goat cheese, which solely varies with animal conditions, their type of food as well as their type of climate of each region.

The original Greek feta is crumbly, curd cheese with a salty and tangy flavour that is immersed in a brine solution to preserve it. Age defines its texture which varies from being creamy to crumbly dry. After preserving it in woden barrels for a period of 2 months it is sold in large blocks submerged in brine, mainly within metal canisters.

To eat it, use it on top of pasta, or use it in bits in your salad, or within pies – a classic recipe is spinach pie where spianch is mixed with feta, eggs, salt and pepper to make a wholesome meal.

TIP: The salty flavor of Feta pairs well with blond beers, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc . To remove some of its saltiness, you can put it under running water for a few seconds.

Below is how feta cheese stands with goat cheese side by side:

Feta Cheese Goat Cheese
Health Properties Contains bacteria that produces antibiotics to kill Listeria Has huge amounts of protein. If you are on a protein diet, prefer this cheese
What do I get on a per 100g serving? Calories 264 Calories 364
Total Fat 21g Total Fat 30g
Cholesterol 89mg Cholesterol 79mg
Sodium 1116mg Sodium 515mg
Sugar 4g Sugar 3g
Protein 14g Protein 22g
Taste Salty, sharp to tangy taste Sweeter than feta, tangy.
Texture Varies from creamy to dry Creamy
Producing countries Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, USA, Canada Almost everyone!
 
Types of Cheese Only Greece has the right to produce “Feta”. Everything else is called White Cheese. Mato (Spain), Gevrik (Welsh), Buche Noir (France)
Types of milk used 100% sheep milk or 70% Sheep milk and 30% Goat milk 100% Goat Milk

 

To cover the matter even more, we have found an interesting thread on Yahoo Answers: http://goo.gl/SoXmoZ

photo by: of Betchy Weber via Flickr

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