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The Cretan Cheese & Dairy Directory

find all Cretan Cheese products and producers
Traditional & PDO Cretan Cheeses & Dairy
  • Cretan cheese
    Cretan cheese producers
  • Mitata: Cretan shepherds shelters

All Cretan Cheeses

Crete has an ancient tradition of making outstanding and word class cheese and dairy products. The quality of Cretan cheese is world class and all though mostly know and consumed on Crete Island and all over Greece, its is less know internationally (but only due to the fact its poorly marketed, while the taste and quality of the Cretan cheese and dairy products is incomparable...) 

Crete is world leader in cheese consumption and Cretans adore cheese & dairies and use them in all their meals, alone or used inside their food recipes, in traditional Cretan pastries and also as appetizers and as a snack anytime of the day.

The
enormous biodiversity and unique micro-climate of Crete combined with old traditional processes help create amazing Cretan cheese and dairies, of excellent taste and quality. In the recent decades, due to tourism mainly, the visitors of the island of Crete have had the opportunity to try the Cretan cheese and the awareness for Cretan dairy products and request has emerged, worldwide.

On Crete there are produced several cheese products (14), among them 4 types of Cretan cheese are renowned and protected by EU quality certifications, as PDO and PGI cheeses. Traditionally Cretan cheeses were produced by the shepherds right on the spot where their sheep's and goats milk was collected, in their "mitato" (shepherds shelters), mainly for own use, but now the majority of Cretan cheese is produced (still in the traditional way) on organised, high standards, certified artisan dairy producers all over the island.     

Graviera Kritis (PDO)

Kefalotyri

Myzithra (Cretan ricota)

Pychtogalo (PDO)

Tyrozouli

Lefko Tyri (Feta's similar)

Krasotyros

Yogourt
Malaka (Tyromalama)

Xygalo (PDO)

Xynomyzithra (PDO)

Staka / Stakovoutiro

Galomyzithra

Kefalograviera

Touloumotyri


Cretan cheeseCretan cheeses cluster
Cretan GruyèreCretan cheese varieties & typesXynomyzithra cheese from Crete Greece
feta cheese Crete Greecefeta cheese

Cretan Cheese Products

a list of the most important and popular Cretan cheese products and PDO cheese products from Crete Island

Lately the Cretan cheeses, as well cheeses and dairy products from mainland Greece, are starting to get properly marketed internationally and their value, quality and taste is greatly appreciated worldwide as they habitually earn prestigious awards in world's most reputable food contests and fairs. In Greece, the annual consumption of cheese per capita is higher (by far) than in any other European country and is the highest worldwide. Soft cheese, creamy, firm cheese, white or yellow cheese, fresh or ripe, long aged cheeses, sweet or salty – Crete and the rest of Greece offer a vast list of cheese and dairy products each of them unique in taste and quality, backed by the old tradition and knowledge, the unique climate and the huge biodiversity of flora.

All Cretan cheese and dairy products are made off sheep's and/or goat milk, no cow milk is used for the production of cheese on Crete. Only in mainland Greece some cheeses are made of cow milk.

Cretan cheese varieties & types

Graviera Kritis (PDO)

Graviera of Crete
PDO - Protected Designation of Origin
This famous Cretan cheese is a gruyere (graviera in Greek), with a slightly salty taste, full of butter and milk proteins. It is made from goat's and sheep's milk. The very top quality is when produced from pure sheep - ideally. It is prepared in pieces weighing from 5 to 25 kg. Its analysis is moisture 38%, fat 38.4% on dry, salt 1.5%. It is eaten raw, with fruit and bread, cooked in pies, also breaded like a saganaki (Greek fried cheese)

Cretan cheese

Kefalotyri

Kefalotyri of Crete
Cheese with a cohesive mass and pale yellow color. Its taste is salty, spicy and greasy. It is made in many parts of Greece from sheep's milk, the mixture of sheep and goat. The fat content of 40% on dry, and maximum humidity 38% with a sufficient amount of salt. Ideal for a spaghetti

Cretan cheese varieties & types

Myzithra (Cretan ricotta)

Myzithra of Crete
A cheese that is made all over Greece and comes from the whey of other cheeses. Fresh milk is added to the whey, heated again with pythia. resulting in a soft fresh cheese almost lean with a soft and neutral taste. High in fat so it should be consumed in moderation in case of diet. It has an average of 70% moisture, and 50% fat on dry. Used in confectionery. It accompanies fresh fruit and is offered as an appetizer or as a dessert with honey

Cretan cheese

Pychtogalo (PDO)

Pychtogalo of Chania
PDO - Protected Designation of Origin
Simple daily cheese made in the prefecture of Chania, Crete. It has a yoghurt texture and a slightly sour taste. Produced from unpasteurized sheep or goat's milk mixture. It has 65% moisture, 50% dry fat, 16-20% protein, about 1% salt. Used in pies or eaten as is. With this cheese the Chania bougatsa is made
Cretan cheese varieties & types

Tyrozouli

Tyrozoyli of Crete
Traditional cheese of domestic sheep and goat breeding. It is prepared from boiled milk and coagulated with sour, vinegar or even fig milk instead of pithia. Lightly salted or unsalted with an elastic texture. Made from Myzithra by adding salt, causing dehydration, and allowing maturation
Cretan cheese

Xygalo / Xygala (PDO)

Xigalo of Sitia Crete
PDO - Protected Designation of Origin
Creamy cheese made exclusively in Sitia. In taste it resembles the xinomyzithra and the piktogalo of Chania. It has a rich taste, slightly sour and fresh. It is prepared only in Sitia
Cretan cheese varieties & types

Malaka (Tyromalama)

Malaka of Crete (Tyromalama)
It is the cheese mass that results in the first stage of the gruyere cheese making. It is elastic and homogeneous and is used exclusively in pies and mainly the Hanioti cake made with 4 cheeses, lamb and mint
Cretan cheese

Xynomyzithra (PDO)

Xynomyzithra (or Xinomyzithra)
PDO - Protected Designation of Origin
An exclusively Cretan cheese, where the whey together with fresh milk are left for 24 hours at natural temperature to sour. Produced from sheep or goat and sheep milk mixture. It has 50% moisture, 23% fat, 15% protein and 2% salt. It is ideal for pies and diets

Cretan cheese varieties & types

Staka / Stakovoutiro

Staka of Crete
Between cheese and yogurt another different dairy product. The milk chip (cream) from the milking is lightly salted and stored. When a sufficient amount is collected, it is heated on a low heat for several days and a small amount of flour is added, thus separating the proteins from the fat. The fat is collected separately and is the famous stakobutter while the white and dense mass of proteins is the famous stakout. It is cooked with eggs, with spaghetti, pilaf or in pies
Cretan cheese

Galomyzithra

Galomyzithra of Crete
Cheese, with a very simple cheese-making process, where the milk is converted into cheese with natural acidification, ie it cuts. It is not a marketable cheese and is made mainly at home. It has the same texture and taste as the Haniotiki mizithra and the Cretan xinomyzithra. It is delicious, soft with light sourness. Ideal for the Cretan dako
Cretan cheese varieties & types

Kefalograviera

Kefalograviera of Crete
...


Cretan cheese

Anthotyros (dry)

Anthotyros of Crete
Cheese from a mixture of whey and fresh milk with a cohesive mass and a little salt. It has a maximum humidity of 70% and a minimum fat content of 65% on dry. Produced from sheep's and goat's milk. It matures with time and with the help of salt, hardens and loses moisture. Its name can come from the cheese blossom or from the cheese blossom, where ash means ash, since when the cheese matures it looks as if ashes have been thrown on it. It is suitable for spaghetti

feta cheese

Lefko Tyri (like feta)

Lefko Tyri of Crete
Lefko Tyri from Crete is like the Feta (Greek: φέτα, féta) but since Feta is PDO protected for areas in central/northern of Greece, the one of Crete cannot be called as feta (its similar but not the same).

Its a Greek (central and northern Greece) brined curd white cheese made from sheep's milk or from a mixture of sheep and goat's milk. It is a soft, brined white cheese with small or no holes, a compact touch, few cuts, and no skin. It is formed into large blocks, and aged in brine. Its flavor is tangy and salty, ranging from mild to sharp. It is crumbly and has a slightly grainy texture

Cretan cheese

Krasotyros

Krasotyros of Crete
A unique graviera cheese in red wine from Crete. Sheep milk predominates giving a rich taste while its uniqueness is based on the marriage of cheese with wine which gives it a charming character. This Cretan gruyere matures slowly in wine sludge from fine sour black wine. It is a cheese with a rich aroma and taste of strong and bold character. Ideally cay be combined with Xinomavro red wine and accompanied with toasted bread, cherry tomatoes and walnuts
Cretan cheese varieties & types

Touloumotyri

Touloumotyri of Crete
Between cheese and yogurt another different dairy product. The milk chip (cream) from the milking is lightly salted and stored. When a sufficient amount is collected, it is heated on a low heat for several days and a small amount of flour is added, thus separating the proteins from the fat. The fat is collected separately and is the famous stakobutter while the white and dense mass of proteins is the famous stakout. It is cooked with eggs, with spaghetti, pilaf or in pies

Featured Cretan Cheese Producers

map of Crete island

Chania cheese producers

Rethymno cheese producers

Heraklion cheese producers

Lassithi cheese producers

Xylouris - Cretan cheese products

XYLOURIS ARISTIDES - Cretan cheese

(Agia Varvara, HERAKLION)

The Cretan cheese producer Xylouris SA with respect to the Cretan tradition but also with respect to its customers, it has products of traditional designation of origin (PDO), produced with the HACCP system in accordance with Greek and European Union's legislation.
Balantinos traditional Cretan cheeses

BALATINOS - Cretan cheese

(Varypetro Kydonias, CHANIA)

Located in the mountains of the prefecture of Chania, in the historic village of Therissos, the Balantinos family began to engage in animal husbandry and the production of traditional Cretan cheese products. Since 1928 the family has managed to create a history in the field of cheese making with top products, constantly evolving the company while honoring the traditions of the island of Crete
Kalogeraki Cretan cheeses

KALOGERAKIS SA- Cretan cheese

(Smari, HERAKLION)

Kalogeraki Bros is a family business from Heraklion, Crete that has been active in the dairy industry (cretan cheeses) for over half a century to bring all the wealth of cheese products from Crete to your table. With love and passion makes the most delicious and authentic flavors
Xylouris AA: Cretan cheeses

XYLOURIS MICHAEL AA - Cretan cheese

(Tylissos, HERAKLION)

XYLOURIS AA processes tons of goat's and sheep's milk annually and has its own state-of-the-art packaging facilities. Productivity, techniques, pioneering spirit and continuous investment in technology, research and development, combined with experience and knowledge in traditional Cretan cheese making, guarantee the excellent quality of its products
ALL CRETAN CHEESE PRODUCERS

European Union certifications for nutritional goods

PDO - PGI - TSG

Protected Designation of Origin
Protected Geographical Indication
Traditional Speciality Guaranteed
traditional speciality guaranteed
PDO - PROTECTED DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN: a label created by the European Union

Protected designation of origin(PDO)

Product names registered as PDO are those that have the strongest links to the place in which they are made. Every part of the production, processing and preparation process must take place in the specific region.
PGI - PROTECTED GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION: a label created by the European Union

Protected geographical indication (PGI)

PGI emphasises the relationship between the specific geographic region and the name of the product, where a particular quality, reputation or other characteristic is essentially attributable to its geographical origin
TSG - TRADITIONAL SPECIALITY GUARANTEED: a label created by the European Union

Traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG) highlights the traditional aspects such as the way the product is made or its composition, without being linked to a specific geographical area. The name of a product being registered as a TSG protects it against falsification and misuse

CRETAN Cheeses certified with a

Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.) Certification

Each member of the European Community carries its own customs and traditions, its local and traditional products that are absolutely characterized by the climatic conditions, the raw materials and the long experience of the local producers or craftsmen.

The European Union, which has a tradition of thousands of years, has established a legal framework for the protection of local traditional products. The term PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) refers to cheeses produced in defined geographical areas with recognized know-how.

Based on this regulation, we have (so far) in Greece, from approximately 70 already registered cheeses, 23 characterized as PDO and 4 of them in Crete, specifically:

Graviera Kritis (PDO)
Xinomyzithra Kritis (PDO)
Pichtogalo Chanion (PDO)
Xigalo Sitias (PDO)

There are 7 other types of Cretan cheeses in the certification process

The Island of Crete

Shepherds life on Crete Island
Kri Kri - capra aegagrus CreticaKri-Kri - capra aegagrus cretica

KRI-KRI - Capra Aegagrus Cretica

The Kri-Kri (Capra Aegagrus Cretica), sometimes called the Cretan goat, Agrimi, or Cretan Ibex is a feral goat inhabiting the Eastern Mediterranean, previously considered a subspecies of wild goat. The kri-kri is now found only on the island of Crete (Greece) and three small islands just offshore Crete (Dia, Thodorou and Agii Pantes).

The Kri-Kri has a light brownish coat with a darker band around its neck. It has two horns that sweep back from the head. In the wild they are shy and avoid humans, resting during the day. The animal can leap some distance or climb seemingly sheer cliffs.

The kri-kri is not thought to be indigenous to Crete, most likely having been imported to the island during the time of the Minoan civilization. Nevertheless, it is found nowhere else and is therefore endemic to Crete. It was once common throughout the Aegean but the peaks of the 2,400 m (8,000 ft) White Mountains of Western Crete are their last strongholds - particularly a series of almost vertical 900 m (3,000 ft) cliffs called 'the Untrodden' - at the head of the Samaria Gorge.

This mountain range, which hosts another 14 endemic animal species, is protected as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In total, their range extends to the White Mountains, the Samaria National Forest and the islets of Dia, Thodorou, and Agii Pandes.

Recently some were introduced onto two more islands
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Asi Gonia (Chania Crete)

Animal blessing in Asi Gonia: on April 23 (the day of Saint George) in Asi Gonia village in eastern Chania province in the mountains of Crete there is celebrated Saint George the "Galatas" ("Milkman" as it is translated in Greek). Asi-Gonia is a mountainous village with about 800 inhabitants, most of them shepherds. In Asi Gonia takes place a unique tradition on Crete - the blessing of the sheep every April 23, the day of Saint George, the saint protector of the sheperds. All sheperds of the area bring their sheep to the church where a benediction takes place and they then milk the sheep and goats and offer the milk to everybody present and a big celebration takes place. The shepherds hang the sounding bells ("leria") on their animals.
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Cretan shepherd tradition - sheep benedictionAsi Gonia Crete: Agios Georgios Cretan shepherd tradition
Cretan nature - countryside landscape near Heraklion Cretesheeps grazing on Crete islandGoats of CreteChania Crete: Elafonissi landscape - Balos

The Cretan Nature and Landscape

"Crete: a continent in an Island" 

Nothing is repeated in Crete. Enormous geological contradictions and special weather conditions have formed unique landscapes, surprising the visitors and keeping senses constantly alert. Driving or walking around makes you easily realise as you move, that within just minutes the landscape and images in front of you change so much, there is an enormous and constant variety on the landscape, vegetation, geology... Each route in Crete is unique. Variant sensations, pictures, colors, flavors, sounds accompany visitors at every step.

One can encounter emerald beaches, scrub-lands, sand dunes, rocky summits, steep slopes, alpine zones, verdant mountains, plateaus, deep gorges, dry lands, gurgling rivers, scenic ponds, Mediterranean woods, wetlands, fertile meadows, vineyards, olive groves, gardens - while the same contrasts and variety are met below sea surface.

Those contradictions favor the development of different ecosystems, significantly increasing the biodiversity of the island.

Crete has 8.336 square km of surface area, is 260 km long from east-west and between 15 to 60km north-south, the diversity of habitats on Crete create individual Eco-systems in which particular plants flourish.

Vegetation zones/areas are divided as follows:
- Coastal or littoral area at an altitude of 0-20 m
- Lowland at an altitude of 20-300 m
- Semi or sub-mountainous 300-800 m
- Mountainous 800-1.800 m
- Sub Alpine 1.800-2.200 m
- Alpine +2.200m

It is often said that Crete is a whole continent... and not just an island!
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MITATO

Mitato are traditional shepherds stone houses on the mountains. They are found mainly in the Cyclades islands and particularly on Crete island: in all the mountain villages, the villages of Psiloritis mountain also called Mount Idi or Ida (Heraklion and Rethymno), the White Mountains (Chania area) and the Chania's Madares.

Mitato (Greek: μιτάτο, archaic form: μιτᾶτον or μητᾶτον) means "shelter" or "lodging" in Greek. Appearing in the 6th century, during the Byzantine period it referred to an inn or trading house for foreign merchants. By extension, it could also refer to the legal obligation of a private citizen to billet state officials or soldiers.

In modern Greece, and especially on the mountains of Crete, a mitato (in the plural mitata) is a hut built from locally gathered stones to provide shelter to shepherds, and is used also for cheese-making. Mount Ida (also called Mount Idi, or Psiloritis) in central Crete is particularly rich in flat stones suitable for dry stone constructions that form the mitato.
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Mitato on Crete - sheperds shelterMitato on Crete - sheperds shelter house

Pricing Table: Cretan Cheeses

Cretan Cheese Prices
Cretan traditional Kefalotyri cheese - VOLTIRAKIS

KEFALOTYRI from CRETE

...
12
per Kg
SHOP
Cretan traditional Gruyère cheese

GRAVIERA from CRETE

...
12 €
per Kg
SHOP

Natural History Museum of CRETE - the flora of Crete...

The Cretan Flora

Crete has an extremely rich biodiversity. You get a good idea of how rich the biodiversity of Crete is by considering that Crete has about 300 more species and subspecies of plants (1.750 in total) as the whole of Britain that has about 1.450, all though Crete is 35 times smaller. The biodiversity of Crete is reflected - beside the total number of species - also in the number of endemic species (species that grow only in Crete and nowhere else in the world). On Crete there are about 160 endemic species and subspecies, which means that 9% of the plant species of Crete do not exist elsewhere in world.

The Cretan flora has adapted itself so as to resist the free grazing (a traditional practice in Crete for thousands of years) and human interventions. The plants have developed ways to resist grazing, like thorns or bad taste. There no large forest areas, like for example those in the region of Macedonia in north Greece or Epirus. Partly because of the grazing on Crete and also its climate. Thus Crete has some of the rarest bio-habitats in Europe, like e.g. those of the palm trees (Phoenix theophrasti).

The nature of Crete's flora with so many species that are endemic can be explained by the fact Crete is relative isolated broken away from mainland Greece and also the mountainous nature and overall morphology/geology, that creates many isolated habitats.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL N.H.M.C. SITE TO SEE ALL IMAGES AND INFO >>

Making Cretan cheese in the traditional way - a video with a shepherd in Chania...

Arritos Greek herbal tea blends

Arritos Hellenic Herbs - an artisan company established by two young ladies, a workshop creating unique herb blends - aiming to recapture tradition and adjust it to today's world. Through unique blends, it attempts to awaken images and memories of the Greek landscapes and the amazing biodiversity of flora offered

It all starts with the choice of the ideal location, the micro-climate and the right field. Greece is characterized by an incredible number of different micro climates and a huge biodiversity. Each of them has to offer us different herbs, each with a special character and with a variety of aromatic and tasty palettes. Then comes the human. The selection of the right cultivars depending on the place, the appropriate care exclusively with biological and natural methods, the right harvest time and the natural drying are necessary conditions for the organic herbs to show their best characteristics.

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The Cretan Experience

find...

www.CretanCheese.com

Cretan Cheeses & Dairy

the purpose of this page is to provide insightful info about the cheeses and dairy products of the island of Crete, the typical, most popular and traditional Cretan cheeses, the producers of cheeses from Crete, info on cheese and culinary facts and Cretan & Greek recipes from mainland Greece.

We thank you for your visit and greatly appreciate receiving your comments & suggestions 
CRETAN CHEESE PRODUCERS
[email protected]

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