Mizithra


Mizithra
Mizithra
Country of origin Greece
Region, town N/A
Source of milk Goats, Ewes
Pasteurised Not traditionally, but commercially yes
Texture Soft
Fat content approx. 15%
Protein content approx. 15.5%
Dimensions various
Weight various, usually 1/2 or 1 kilo
Aging time 1 Days

Mizithra (Greek: Μυζήθρα) is a traditional, unpasteurized fresh cheese made with milk and whey from sheep and/or goats. The ratio of milk to whey usually is 7 to 3.

It is, mainly, produced on the island of Crete but other areas in Greece also produce it. In Cyprus a similar cheese is known in both types (fresh or dry) as "Anari" (Αναρή in Greek, Nor in Turkish).

Contents

Production

Mizithra is made from raw, whole ewe or goat milk in the simplest way possible: milk is brought to a slow boil for a few minutes and then curdled by adding rennet, or whey from a previous batch (see below), or simply something acidic, e.g. lemon juice or vinegar. As soon as the curds have formed, they are poured into a cheesecloth bag which is hung to drain. The whey dripping out of the bag can be used to curdle the next batch of mizithra. After a few days, mizithra has formed into a soft mass which is sweet and moist, and has been molded in the shape of the hanging bag, i.e. it has a rounded bottom and a conic, wrinkly top. At this stage it is called "sweet" or "fresh mizithra" and may be used as is. Otherwise it is rubbed with coarse salt and left to age even more, usually hung in cloth bags again; the longer it ages, the denser, saltier, and sourer it becomes. This is "xynomizithra" ("sour" mizithra) and it can ultimately turn into a very dense, hard, white cheese that is suitable for fine grating.

Serving

It is made in various sizes and shapes, most commonly a truncated cone. The fresh, soft, sweet form is called simply mizithra, the sour version is xynomizithra. If it is aged, it becomes anthotyros.

The cheese is soft, snow-white, creamy, and moist. Since no salt is added to Mizithra it has an almost sweet and milky taste.

It is eaten as dessert with honey or as mezes with olives and tomato. It is used as a table cheese, as well as in salads, pastries and in baking, notably in little cheese pies (handful size) and Sfakiani Pita (Pie from Sfakia region).

Other

The town of Mystras takes its name from "a cone-shaped hill called Myzithra, from its resemblance to a cheese of that name, which was made in the shape of a cone." (Steven Runciman, A Traveller's Alphabet, "Morea")

See also


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