Sfela cheese, also called ‘fire feta’, is a semi-hard table cheese with a rich tangy and slightly salty taste. Sfela cheese is similar to spicy feta cheese. Its name denotes the cutting of the cheese into slices (sfelides). Sfela cheese is a PDO product, produced at the prefectures of Messinia and Laconia in the southern Peloponnese (Sfela PDO 313056/17-01-1994; Government Gazette 25/18-01-1994). Until the 1960s, every household in Messinia produced its own sfela cheese. Sfela cheese is made of sheep or goat milk or from a combination of both. It does not have additives or flavor enhancers. The milk is coagulated at 30 – 32 o C using traditional rennet. 

The cheese curd is then reheated at 38-400C, placed in cheesecloths to drain, pressed lightly, cut into slices or stripes and finally salted. The cheese is placed in wooden or metallic containers with 20% brine at room temperature for a month and later transferred to cooling chambers (4-60C) for at least three months so that the cheese completes its ripening process. Sfela cheese can be consumed on its own with a sprinkle of olive oil and oregano, it is used in pies, as a topping on traditional rusks along with chopped tomato, in omelets (kagianas) or grilled in aluminum foil with tomatoes, oregano and peppers (bouyiourdi).


Sfela cheese is an important source of protein for the human body (protein content: 21 – 22%). It also contains minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.  Calcium strengthens the bones, plays an essential role in blood clotting, and supports the proper functioning of the nervous system. Furthermore, sfela has the vitamins A, B and D and milk proteins of high biological value. Its main protein is casein but it also contains significant amounts of beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin. Sfela cheese should be consumed in moderation, as it is high in sodium (salt: 4.7%) and fat (minimum fat content in dry matter: 40%).

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