The Greek dairy products have great nutritional value and they are rich in elements that are essential for the development of the human organism. However, the most dynamic Greek dairy products are: the famous feta and the also famous Greek yogurt.
Yoghurt is about as ancient as milk. It was the first and most immediate way to preserve milk by extending its life for several weeks.
Greek yoghurt, renowned the over the world for its quality, density, and unabashed, delicious sour taste is a product of the country's pastoral traditions. Up until fairly recently, yoghurt production was ruled entirely by farming and seasonal conditions. Greece has always been a land of sheep and goats. Cows were animals of labor, used to till the land and draw heavy loads, and rarely reared for milk. Sheep and goats provided most of the milk Greeks consumed. Yoghurt was always made with sheep's milk and was seasonal, produced from late fall to early June.
Yoghurt, the quintessential shepherd's product, was a specialty of the itinerant shepherd's tribes that roamed much of Greece. In the mountains of Epirus in Northern Greece, the Vlachs, for example, were pastoral people with a strong tradition of cheese making. They made yoghurt in wooden tubs.
In most other parts of Greece the yoghurt was set in terracotta bowls glazed on the inside, still a popular way to set yoghurt today, and with good reason: The ceramic bowls are porous thus enabling the whey (water content) to leak out slowly, beading up on the sides of the bowl. By losing water, the yogurt gets thicker, and the natural sweating-beading-evaporates and cools the yoghurt.
In Greece, yoghurt is an addition to every meal: scooped over rice pilaf, dolloped in tomato sauce; served with stewed and fried vegetables, meatballs, and grilled meats. It is used as a sauce, baked over chicken and certain beef dishes until it sets and thickens like béchamel. It is used as a condiment, stirred with shredded cucumbers and garlic to make the well-known dip tzatziki, or spooned onto savory squash and cornmeal pies, a tradition in Greece's northern mountain regions. In some areas it is even served as a cool summer soup. Swirled with honey or spoon sweets, yogurt is divine. Strained sheep's milk yoghurt was rare, and used in lieu of cream in desserts like roasted caramelized quince, or as a pudding with honey and walnuts. A more regular treat, still a favorite with children today, is "yoghurt skin", scraped off the top of the yoghurt and sprinkled with sugar.
Greeks have taken to strained cow's milk yoghurt. Greek-style strained yoghurt has recently exploded in the U.S. and European markets. American chefs and cooks don't restrict it to Greek or Mediterranean cuisines. It appears everywhere, a beautiful re-incarnation of a stellar ancient food.
Today the consumer can find a vast variety of premium quality Greek dairy products. Their refined taste and premium quality puts them on the top of the Greek and foreign consumer's choices.
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