Mizithra

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Mizithra
Homemade Mizithra.jpg
Country of originGreece
Region, townN/A
Source of milkGoats, Ewes
PasteurisedNot traditionally, but commercially yes
TextureSoft
Fat contentapprox. 15%
Protein contentapprox. 15.5%
Dimensionsvarious
Weightvarious, usually ½ or 1 kilo
Aging time1 day
 
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Mizithra
Homemade Mizithra.jpg
Country of originGreece
Region, townN/A
Source of milkGoats, Ewes
PasteurisedNot traditionally, but commercially yes
TextureSoft
Fat contentapprox. 15%
Protein contentapprox. 15.5%
Dimensionsvarious
Weightvarious, usually ½ or 1 kilo
Aging time1 day

Mizithra or Myzithra (Greek: μυζήθρα [miˈziθra]) is a traditional, unpasteurized fresh cheese made with milk and whey from sheep and/or goats.[1] The ratio of milk to whey usually is 7 to 3.

It is primarily 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 Cyprus Turkish, Lor in Turkish).

Production[edit]

Mizithra is made from raw, whole ewe's or goat's 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, vinegar, or even a broken fresh sprig of fig tree. 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. This type is often baked in pies or eaten as is.

Xynomyzithra (sour Myzithra) has a more acidic or sour flavor. It is created by rubbing fresh Mizithra with coarse salt and leaving it to age even more, usually hung in cloth bags again; the longer it ages, the denser, saltier, and more sour it becomes.[2] It can ultimately turn into a very dense, hard, white cheese that is suitable for fine grating. Hard or dried Mizithra is also called anthotyro xero. It is often added to pasta and has a stronger flavor.

Serving[edit]

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 the Sfakia region).

In its salted, aged form it is considered the grating cheese par excellence of Greek cuisine, and is especially suited for sprinkling over hot pasta.

Other[edit]

The town of Mystras takes its name from "a cone-shaped hill called Mizithra, 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[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barron, Rosemary (1991). Flavors of Greece. William Morrow, ISBN 978-0-688-07087-8
  2. ^ Facaros, Dana; Pauls, Michael (2003). Cadogan Guide: Crete. New Holland Publishers, ISBN 978-1-86011-106-8