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Mizithra
Country of originGreece
Region, townN/A
Source of milkGoats, Ewes
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 Greek whey cheese or mixed milk-whey cheese from sheep or goats, or both.[1] It is sold both as a fresh cheese, similar to Italian ricotta, and as a salt-dried grating cheese, similar to Italian ricotta salata. The ratio of milk to whey usually is 7 to 3.

It is primarily produced on the island of Crete but is widespread throughout Greece. It is essentially the same as Anthotyros though the latter may contain some cow's milk. In Cyprus a similar cheese is known as "Anari" (Αναρή in Greek, Nor in Cypriot Turkish, Lor in Turkish).

Production

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 else some acidic substance such as lemon juice, vinegar or even a fresh broken fig tree sprig. As soon as curds have formed they are poured into a cheesecloth bag and 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 forms a sweet, moist, soft mass molded in the shape of the hanging bag with a rounded bottom and a conical, wrinkly top. At this stage it is called "sweet" or "fresh mizithra" and may be eaten or, often, baked in pies.

Xynomizithra

Main article: Xynomizithra

Mizithra that is salted and aged becomes dryer, denser, saltier and more sour.[2] This xynomizithra 'sour mizithra' is often grated.

Serving

Aged Mizithra production in Achaea Peloponnese
Aged Mizithra production in Achaea Peloponnese

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.

Toponymy

The town of Mystras takes its name from a cone-shaped hill, called Mizithra from its resemblance to the cheese (Steven Runciman, A Traveller's Alphabet, "Morea").

See also

References

  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