Kalathaki Limnou: the hidden treasure of Lemnos Island
Kalathaki Limnou is a traditional Greek cheese from the island of Lemno in the northern Aegean Sea. It’s kind of like Feta’s cousin, but it’s much sweeter and more delicate than Feta. The texture is the same, though. The name of the cheese, Kalathaki, comes from the Greek word “kalathos,” which means “basket.” This is because the cheese is made in a straw basket, which gives it its unique shape.
History of Kalathaki Limnou
Kalathaki Limnou is a product that has been around for hundreds of years and has a long past. It has always been a big part of the diet and culture of the island of Lemnos, and it still is. Its production and consumption are closely tied to the island’s customs and the way the seasons change.
Since 1996, this cheese has been on the list of PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) products of the European Union. This means that any cheese labeled “Kalathaki Limnou” is made on the island of Lemnos using traditional methods.
Production and characteristics
Kalathaki Limnou is a sheep’s cheese that can have up to 30% goat’s milk in it. It has a soft, light texture and a sweet, slightly sour taste. It is made only with fresh milk from the island, which is curdled with rennet that comes from nature. The cheese is then put in wicker boxes to drain and get its distinctive bell shape.
The brine is used to salt the cheese, and then it is left to age for at least 60 days. The finished result is a white cheese that is soft and compact, unlike Feta, which has holes in it. On the tongue, Kalathaki Limnou tastes sweet and a little bit salty, with a nice fresh milk finish.
Use for cooking
Kalathaki Limnou is a very useful cheese in the kitchen because of how soft it is and how mild it tastes. It can be eaten by itself, as an appetizer, or as a part of many sweet and savory meals. It goes well with fruits like figs and grapes and is especially good in salads, on fresh bread, in quiches, or in desserts.
Even though Kalathaki Limnou is a PDO product and has important traditional meaning for the island of Lemnos, it is not made in large quantities. The main reason has to do with local agriculture and protecting the environment of the island. This is a great artisan cheese, so it will never become a mass or even a popular product, which is good. Because of this, each piece of Kalathaki Limnou is a dairy jewel of the highest quality, made with care and respect.
Kalathaki Limnou is important to the customs of the area, as well as being good to eat. It’s often the center of parties and gatherings, and people give it as gifts around the holidays. This cheese is a good example of how food can become a big part of a place’s cultural heritage by tying together its history, customs, and farming methods.
What drink should I choose?
- Assyrtiko di Santorini: This dry white wine from the volcanic island of Santorini has a lively acidity that can balance the richness of Kalathaki Limnou, and its mineral and citrine flavors go well with the slightly salty flavor of the cheese.
- Agiorgitiko comes from the Peloponnese. If you like red wine, Agiorgitiko is a good pick. It is a red wine with a bold but not so beefy body, velvety tannins, and floral aromas that can go well with creamy cheese.
- Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi is a white wine from the Marche that has just the right amount of fruit, acidity, and salinity to go with a variety of cheeses, like Kalathaki Limnou.
- Soave Classico is a dry white wine from the Veneto region that smells of flowers and fruit and has a nice acidity. It goes well with the sweetness and light acidity of Kalathaki Limnou.
- Barbera d’Asti: If you want to match an Italian red, Barbera d’Asti could be a good pick. It has a medium body, soft tannins, and a lively acidity that can balance out the sweetness of the cheese.