Kasseri Cheese

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    Kasseri, also spelled Kasar and Kaser, is a cheese made from unpasteurized sheep’s milk with no more than 20% goat’s milk added if any.  Alternative ways of making the cheese found in the United States do use cow milk, but the traditional versions found in Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey stick to sheep’s milk leaving a medium-hard pale yellow cheese preferred by connoisseurs who like full-flavored cheeses.  Kasseri has salty flavors and a pungent odor yet leaves behind a sweet aftertaste from the reliance on sheep’s milk with a fat content between 25-45%.  Fresh, unpasteurized milk is used to obtain both the correct flavor and texture and the cheese is aged at least four months to develop its flavor.

    Like Provolone and Mozzarella, Kasseri belongs to the pasta filata family of cheeses.  Kasseri has a soft and stringy texture and is a chewy hard-rind cheese.  With the lack of rennet use during production, the cheese meets the requirements of Jewish law and was invented by the Jewish community of Edirne, Turkey though the name is listed in protected designations of origin in the European Union with Greece as its origin.

    Kasseri is an excellent table cheese, grated over hot foods, used in sandwiches, omelets, as a pastry cheese in the hors d’oeuvers kasseropita pie, and of course in saganaki (flaming Greek cheese).  Substitutes for Kasseri include colby, caciocavallo, mild white cheddar, mozzarella, scarmorza, and smoked tofu.  While colby and mild white cheddar are not goat cheeses, they are closest with respect to taste and texture.  Aged kasseri, while not as creamy, mildly resembles Asiago and Parmesan and is often used as a substitute for mozzarella by Americans.

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