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 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.
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).
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")
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