Dairy Science & Technology

, Volume 88, Issue 4–5, pp 495–510 | Cite as

Characteristics of major traditional regional cheese varieties of East-Mediterranean countries: a review

  • Efstathios Alichanidis
  • Anna PolychroniadouEmail author


Traditional cheeses represent a heritage and are the result of accumulated empirical knowledge passed on from generation to generation. Pedoclimatic conditions in most parts of the East-Mediterranean and neighbouring countries are characterised by relatively small and irregular precipitations, hot and dry summers, and a largely hilly terrain. Such environmental conditions are not very favourable for cattle but suitable for sheep and goats. Thus, the majority of traditional cheeses in these countries were — and most of them still are — made from the milk of these two animals. The relatively high ambient temperature, the lack of refrigeration facilities and the fact that most of the cheeses were produced in family enterprises or in small artisanal units led the cheese market to be dominated (> 50%) by “white brined cheeses” (WBC), which are ripened and stored under brine until consumption, e.g. Feta, Domiati and Beyaz-Peynir. WBC have no rind, no gas holes and are soft to semi-hard with an acidic (pH ∼ 4.5), salty and, some of them, piquant taste. To improve keeping quality, the drained curd of some WBC is additionally scalded at very high temperatures (90–100 °C), e.g. Halloumi and Nabulsi. Traditional cheeses of the region also include pasta filata semi-hard cheeses (e.g. Kashkaval), the curd of which after draining and acidification (pH ∼ 5.2) is subjected to a texturising process (heating, kneading and stretching at ∼ 75 °C). They usually have a flat-cylindrical shape, no holes and straw-yellow to yellow colour. Whey cheese production (e.g. Myzithra, Manouri, Lor, Anari, Urda and Skuta) was developed very early in this area, since the whey from sheep’s and goat’s milk cheese is very rich in protein. The yield can be improved if the milk of these small ruminants and/or cream is added to the whey.

East-Mediterranean cheese white brined cheese whey cheese pasta filata cheese goat’s cheese ewe’s cheese 

Caractéristiques des principales variétés de fromages traditionnels régionaux des pays de l’est méditerranéen: une revue


Les fromages traditionnels représentent un héritage résultant des savoirs empiriques accumulés et transmis de génération en génération. Les conditions pédoclimatiques dans la plupart des pays de l’est méditerranéen et ses voisins sont caractérisées par des précipitations relativement faibles et irrégulières, des étés chauds et secs et un terrain généralement vallonné. De telles conditions environnementales ne sont pas favorables pour les bovins mais conviennent bien aux ovins et caprins. La majorité des fromages traditionnels de ces pays ont été ou sont encore fabriqués à partir du lait de ces deux espèces. La température ambiante relativement élevée, le manque de réfrigération et le fait que la plupart des fromages sont produits dans des petites unités (familiales ou artisanales) font que le marché du fromage est dominé (> 50 %) par des fromages blancs saumurés qui sont affinés et conservés dans la saumure jusqu’ à consommation, par exemple le Feta, le Domiati, le Beyaz-Peynir. Les fromages blancs saumurés n’ont pas de croûte ni de trous, ils ont une texture molle à demi-dure, et un goût acide (pH ∼ 4,5), salé et pour certains d’entre eux piquant. Pour améliorer la qualité de conservation, le caillé égoutté de quelques fromages blancs saumurés est chauffé à des températures très élevées (90–100 °C), comme par exemple le Halloumi et le Nabulsi. Les fromages traditionnels de la région incluent aussi des fromages à pâte filée demi-dure (par exemple le Kashkaval), dont le caillé est soumis à des procédés de texturation (chauffage, découpage, filage à ∼ 75 °C) après égouttage et acidification (pH ∼ 5,2). Ils ont généralement une forme plate cylindrique, pas de trous et une couleur jaune-paille à jaune. La production de fromage de lactosérum (par exemple Myzithra, Manouri, Lor, Anari, Urda, Skuta) a été développée très tôt dans cette région, puisque le lactosérum de fromage de lait de brebis et de lait de chèvre est très riche en protéines. Le rendement peut être amélioré si du lait de ces petits ruminants et/ou de la crème sont ajoutés au lactosérum.

fromage de l’est méditerranéen fromage blanc saumuré fromage de lactosérum fromage à pâte filée fromage de chèvre fromage de brebis 


(WBC) Feta, Domiati, Beyaz-Peynir (> 50%) WBC (pH ∼ 4.5) (90–100 °C) Halloumi Nabulsi pasta filata Kashkaval (pH ∼ 5.2) 75 °C Myzithra Manouri Lor Anari Urda Skuta)

pasta filata 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. [1]
    Abd El-Salam M.H., Alichanidis E., Cheese Varieties Ripened in Brine, in: Fox P.F., McSweeney P.L.H., Cogan T.M., Guinee T.P. (Eds.), Cheese. Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology, Vol. 2, 3rd edn., Elsevier, London, UK, 2004, pp. 227–249.Google Scholar
  2. [2]
    Alichanidis E., Cheeses ripened in brine, in: McSweeney P.L.H. (Ed.), Cheese Problems Solved, CRC Press, Cambridge, UK, 2007, pp. 330–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. [3]
    Alichanidis E., Anifantakis E.M., Polychroniadou A., Nanou M., Suitability of some microbial coagulants for Feta cheese manufacture, J. Dairy Res. 51 (1984) 141–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. [4]
    Anastasiou R., Georgalaki M., Manolopoulou E., Kandarakis I., De Vuyst L., Tsakalidou E., The performance of Streptococcus macedonicus ACA-DC 198 as starter culture in Kasseri cheese production, Int. Dairy J. 17 (2007) 208–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. [5]
    Anifantakis E.M., Greek Cheeses: a Tradition of Centuries, National Dairy Committee of Greece, Athens, Greece, 1991, pp. 63–67.Google Scholar
  6. [6]
    Anifantakis E.M., Greek Cheeses: a Tradition of Centuries, National Dairy Committee of Greece, Athens, Greece, 1991, pp. 88–96.Google Scholar
  7. [7]
    Anifantakis E.M., Kaminarides S.E., Contribution to the study of Halloumi cheese made from sheep’s milk, Austr. J. Dairy Technol. 58 (1983) 29–31.Google Scholar
  8. [8]
    Anifantakis E.M., Moatsou G., Feta and other Balkan cheeses, in: Tamime A.Y. (Ed.), Brined Cheeses, Blackwell Publisher, Oxford, UK, 2006, pp. 43–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. [9]
    Boyazoglu J., Flamant J.C., Mediterranean systems of animal production, in: Galaty J.G., Johnson D.L. (Eds.), The World of Pastoralism, Guilford Press, New York, USA, pp. 353–393.Google Scholar
  10. [10]
    Boyazoglu J., Morand-Fehr P., Mediterranean dairy sheep and goat products and their quality. A critical review, Small Ruminant Res. 10 (2001) 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. [11]
    Caric M., Ripened Cheese Varieties Native to the Balkan Countries, in: Fox P.F. (Ed.), Cheese. Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology, Vol. 2, 2nd edn., Chapman & Hall, London, UK, 1993, pp. 263–279.Google Scholar
  12. [12]
    Coulon J.-B., Delacroix-Buchet A., Martin B., Pirisi A., Relationships between ruminant management and sensory characteristics of cheeses: a review, Lait 84 (2004) 221–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. [13]
    Durlu-Özkaya F., Gün I., Traditional Turkish cheeses, Proc. Int. Symposium on ‘Historical Cheeses of Countries around the Archipelago Mediterraneo’, Thessaloniki, Greece, 6–8 December 2007, pp. 65–88.Google Scholar
  14. [14]
    ElMayda E., Manufacture of local cheese from raw milk in Syria, in: Proceedings International Symposium on ‘Historical Cheeses of Countries around the Archipelago Mediterraneo’, Thessaloniki, Greece, 6–8 December 2007, pp. 55–64.Google Scholar
  15. [15]
    El Soda M., Abd El-Salam M.H., Cheeses matured in brine, in: Roginski H., Fuquay J.W., Fox P.F. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Dairy Sciences, Vol. 1, Academic Press, London, UK, 2003, pp. 406–411.Google Scholar
  16. [16]
    Ferit Atasoy A., Yetişmeyen A., Türkoğlu H., Özer B., Effects of heat treatment and starter culture on the properties of traditional Urfa cheeses (a white-brined Turkish cheese) produced from bovine milk, Food Control 19 (2008) 278–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. [17]
    Georgala A., Moschopoulou E., Aktypis A., Massouras T., Zoidou E., Kandarakis I., Anifantakis E., Evolution of lipolysis during ripening of traditional Feta cheese, Food Chem. 90 (2005) 73–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. [18]
    Güven M., Karaca O.B., Proteolysis levels in white cheeses salted and ripened in brines prepared from various salts, Int. J. Dairy Technol. 54 (2001) 29–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. [19]
    Hayaloglu A.A., Brechany E.Y., Influence of milk pasteurization and scalding temperature on the volatile compounds of Malatya, a farmhouse Halloumi-type cheese, Lait 87 (2007) 39–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. [20]
    Hayaloglu A.A., Güven M., Fox P.F., Microbiological, biochemical and technological properties of Turkish White cheese ‘Beyaz Peynir’, Int. Dairy J. 12 (2002) 635–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. [21]
    Hayaloglu A.A., Özer B.H., Fox P.F., Cheeses of Turkey: 2. Varieties ripened under brine, Dairy Sci. Technol. 88 (2008) 225–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. [22]
    Humeid M.A., Tukan S.K., Yamani M.I., Inbag steaming of white brined cheese as a method for preservation, Milchwissenschaft 45 (1990) 513–516.Google Scholar
  23. [23]
    Kamber U., Traditional cheeses of Turkey: cheeses common to all regions, Food Rev. Int. 24 (2008) 1–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. [24]
    Kamber U., The traditional cheeses of Turkey: Mediterranean region, Food Rev. Int. 24 (2008) 119–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. [25]
    Kamber U., Terzi G., The traditional cheeses of Turkey: Southeast Anatolia region, Food Rev. Int. 24 (2008) 62–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. [26]
    Kaminarides S., Paraschopoulos N., Beri I., Combined effects of concentrated thermophilic and mesophilic cultures and conditions of curd acidifications on the manufacture and quality of kasseri cheese, Int. J. Dairy Technol. 52 (1999) 11–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. [27]
    Kaminarides S., Stamou P., Massouras T., Changes in organic acids, volatile aroma compounds and sensory characteristics of Halloumi cheese kept in brine, Food Chem. 100 (2007) 219–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. [28]
    Kandarakis I., Moatsou G., Georgala A.I.K., Anifantakis E., Effect of draining temperature on the biochemical characteristics of Feta cheese, Food Chem. 72 (2001) 369–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. [29]
    Katsiari M.C., Alichanidis E., Voutsinas L.P., Roussis I.G., Proteolysis in reduced sodium Feta cheese made by partial substitution of NaCl by KCl, Int. Dairy J. 10 (2000) 635–646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. [30]
    Katsiari M.C., Voutsinas L.P., Alichanidis E., Roussis I.G., Lipolysis in reduced sodium Feta cheese made by partial substitution of NaCl by KCl, Int. Dairy J. 10 (2000) 369–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. [31]
    Kindstedt P., Carič M., Milanovič S., Pasta-filata Cheeses, in: Fox P.F., McSweeney P.L.H., Cogan T.M., Guinee T.P. (Eds.), Cheese. Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology, Vol. 2, 3rd edn., Elsevier, London, UK, 2004, pp. 251–277.Google Scholar
  32. [32]
    Kocak C., Aydemir S., Seydim Z.B., Levels of proteolysis in important types of Turkish cheese, in: Proceedings IDF Symposium on ‘Cheese ripening’, Prague, Czech Republic, 21–25 March 2004, Abstracts, Int. Dairy Fed., Brussels, Belgium, p. 76.Google Scholar
  33. [33]
    Macej O., Jovanovic S., Dozet N., Seratlic S., Vucic T., Savic Z., Autochthonous technology of Sjenica cheese production at Sjenica-Pester plateau region, Mlekarstvo 3 (2004) 931–933.Google Scholar
  34. [34]
    Mallatou H., Pappa E., Massouras T., Changes in free fatty acids during the ripening of Telemes cheese made with ewes’, goats’, cows or mixtures of ewes’ and goats’ milk, Int. Dairy J. 13 (2003) 211–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. [35]
    Manolkidis C., Polychroniadou A., Alichanidis E., Observations suivies sur la protéolyse pendant la maturation du fromage ‘Télémé’, Lait 50 (1970) 128–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. [36]
    McSweeney P.L.H., Sousa M.J., Biochemical pathways for the production of flavour compounds in cheeses during ripening: A review, Lait 80 (2000) 293–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. [37]
    Michaelidou A., Alichanidis E., Polychroniadou A., Zerfiridis G., Migration of water-soluble nitrogenous compounds of Feta cheese from the cheese blocks into the brine, Int. Dairy J. 15 (2005) 663–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. [38]
    Michaelidou A., Katsiari M.C., Kondyli E., Voutsinas L.P., Alichanidis E., Effect of a commercial adjunct culture on proteolysis in low-fat Feta-type cheese, Int. Dairy J. 13 (2003) 179–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. [39]
    Milci S., Goncu A., Alpkent Z., Yaygin H., Chemical, microbiological and sensory characterization of Halloumi cheese produced from ovine, caprine and bovine milk, Int. Dairy J. 15 (2005) 625–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. [40]
    Moatsou G., Kandarakis I., Moschopoulou E., Anifantakis E., Alichanidis E., Effect of technological parameters on the characteristics of kasseri cheese made from raw or pasteurized ewes’ milk, Int. J. Dairy Technol. 54 (2001) 69–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. [41]
    Moatsou G., Moschopoulou E., Georgala A., Zoidou E., Kandarakis I., Kaminarides S., Anifantakis E., Effect of artisanal liquid rennet from kids and lambs abomassa on the characteristics of Feta cheese, Food Chem. 88 (2004) 517–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. [42]
    Özer B.H., Robinson R.K., Grandison A.S., Textural and microstructural properties of urfa cheese (a white-brined Turkish cheese), Int. J. Dairy Technol. 56 (2003) 171–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. [43]
    Papademas P., Halloumi Cheese, in: Tamime A.Y. (Ed.), Brined Cheeses, Blackwell Publisher, Oxford, UK, 2006, pp. 117–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. [44]
    Papademas P., Robinson R.K., Halloumi cheese: the product and its characteristics, Int. J. Dairy Technol. 51 (1998) 98–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. [45]
    Papademas P., Robinson R.K., A comparison of the chemical, microbiological and sensory characteristics of bovine and ovine Halloumi cheese, Int. Dairy J. 10 (2000) 761–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. [46]
    Papademas P., Robinson R.K., Some volatile compounds in Halloumi cheese made from ovine and bovine milk, Lebensm.-Wiss. Technol. 35 (2002) 512–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. [47]
    Pappa E.C., Kandarakis I., Anifantakis E.M., Zerfiridis G.K., Influence of types of milk and culture on the manufacturing practices, composition and sensory characteristics of Teleme cheese during ripening, Food Control 17 (2006) 570–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. [48]
    Pintado M.E., Macedo A.C., Malcata F.X., Review: Technology, chemistry and microbiology of whey cheeses, Food Sci. Technol. Int. 7 (2001) 105–116.Google Scholar
  49. [49]
    Polychroniadou A., Vlachos I., Les acides aminés du fromage Télémé, Lait 59 (1979) 234–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. [50]
    Ramos M., Fontecha J., Juarez M., Amigo L., Mahfouz M.B., El-Shibiny S., Total and free fatty acids composition and protein fractions of market Domiati cheese, Egypt. J. Dairy Sci. 16 (1988) 165–174.Google Scholar
  51. [51]
    Raphaelides S.N., Antoniou K.D., Vassiliadou S., Georgaki C., Gravanis A., Ripening effects on the rheological behaviour of Halloumi cheese, J. Food Eng. 76 (2006) 321–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. [52]
    Sahan N., Yasar K., Hayaloglu A.A., Karaca O.B., Kaya A., Influence of fat replacers on chemical composition, proteolysis, texture profiles, meltability and sensory properties of low-fat Kashar cheese, J. Dairy Res. 75 (2008) 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. [53]
    Saldamli I., Kaytanli M., Utilization of Fromase, Maxiren and Rennilase as alternative coagulating enzymes to rennet in Turkish cheese production, Michwissenschaft 53 (1998) 22–25.Google Scholar
  54. [54]
    Simov Z.I., Simova E.D., Beshkova D.M., Impact of two starter cultures on proteolysis in Kashkaval cheese, World J. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 22 (2006) 147–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. [55]
    Toufeili I., Özer B., Brined Cheeses from the Middle-East and Turkey, in: Tamime A.Y. (Ed.), Brined Cheeses, Blackwell Publisher, Oxford, UK, 2006, pp. 188–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. [56]
    Tzanetakis N., Litopoulou-Tzanetaki E., Changes in numbers and kinds of lactic acid bacteria in Feta and Telemes, two Greek cheeses from ewes’ milk, J. Dairy Sci. 75 (1992) 1389–1393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. [57]
    Yamani M.I., Al-Nabulsi A., Haddadin M.S., Robinson R., The isolation of salt-tolerant lactic acid bacteria from ovine and bovine milks for use in the production of nabulsi cheese, Int. J. Dairy Technol. 51 (1998) 86–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. [58]
    Yazici F., Dervisoglu M., Effect of pH adjustment on some chemical, biochemical, and sensory properties of Civil cheese during storage, J. Food Eng. 56 (2003) 361–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer S+B Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food Science and TechnologyAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

Personalised recommendations