As you know, the majority of cheese consumed in countries such as Australia, England and The United States is made from cows’ milk. But have you ever tried sheep cheese? I used sheep feta in this really good Greek salad – a big reason it is such a fabulous salad. I also used good tomatoes which is KEY! Campari tomatoes are the best.
If you’ve not tried sheep feta I’d encourage you to source it and try some. Humans have been milking sheep for thousands of years. The Mediterranean countries are the biggest producers of sheep milk in the world. There’s increasing evidence that sheep milk, and its derivatives such as yogurt and array of beautiful cheese, have considerable health benefits, especially when it goes head-to-head with the poor old dairy cow. Here’s a broad overview of sheep milk:
- It’s higher in protein containing 5.4% protein in every 100mls. Cows’ milk clocks in at about 3.2%
- High in vitamins A and E, many of the B vitamins and is especially high in folate.
- It contains twice the Vitamin C as cows’ milk and double and triple many of essential vitamins and minerals.
- The amino acids in sheep milk act in a similar way to some blood pressure lowering medicines
- Even though sheep milk is higher in lactose than cows’ milk, in most cases sheep milk is more readily digestible for people who suffer from lactose intolerance.
- Evidence has suggested it can help people with allergies, such as eczema (it’s quite the opposite for cows’ milk) and asthma.
- Containing nearly twice as much fat as cows’ milk, sheep milk can actually help lower cholesterol. Containing high levels of conjugated linoleic acid that can actually help promote fat loss. Remember, not all fat is bad. It has now been proven a diet higher in fat and low in carbohydrates can be beneficial for your overall health. (good fats such as nuts, olive oil, avocado, butter, sheep yogurt, cream NOT deep-fried fat)
- Fat globules in sheep milk are smaller than cow or goat so the milk is more homogeneous. These smaller fat globules are said to be easier to digest and less likely to cause high cholesterol. Because they’re easier to digest also less chance of stomach issues from sheep milk products.
It’s this higher fat content in sheep milk that is responsible for creating such wonderful cheese. Many Greek feta and some Italian ricotta are made from sheep milk. Some more popular sheep cheese include:
- Pecorino Romano and some ricotta (Italy)
- Roquefort (France)
- Manchego (Spain)
- Halloumi (Cyprus)
- Feta (Greece)
(the country of origin does not suggest the cheese is only made in that country)
This is the sheep feta I’ve been buying lately because it’s readily available at Costco where I regularly shop. If you shop at Costco you’ll know – they don’t sell crap. I also buy the campari tomatoes I used in this recipe at Costco. A generous-sized container is around four bucks.
The sheep feta costs around 10 bucks and you get a lot of it. It keeps for several weeks in the fridge left in its container and the brine but it freezes nicely if you don’t think you’ll use it in that time.
The yogurt from sheep milk is also pretty fabulous – it’s thick and delicious but I’ve found it more difficult to find in the US. If you come across that I urge you to try it. For now I’ll just have to stick to sheep cheese which I can’t complain about.
Next time you’re out and about shopping, be on the hunt for some sheep cheese, try it and let me know what you think. If you’re a Costco member, you’ll have to pick up a container of sheep feta next time you’re there. They sell a couple of different ones depending where in the US you’re living. Some higher end supermarkets will also sell it. Try it and let me know what you think. Until next time…
FOR YOUR PINTEREST BOARDS
- 12 Campari tomatoes*, quartered
- 4 small cucumbers, sliced
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 6 oz (170g) sheep feta cheese, drained and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- small oregano leaves for garnish
- LEMON OREGANO DRESSING
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
- To make the dressing: Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a screw-top lid; shake until well mixed.
- Place all ingredients in a serving bowl and carefully toss. Drizzle with dressing just before serving.
- * Campari tomatoes are about my most favorite. Known for their low acidity and sweetness I find they’re constantly of excellent quality with no mealiness. They’re also a beautiful deep red color and their size is larger than a cherry tomato and smaller than a regular-sized vine-ripened tomato. If you can’t find campari tomatoes, use vine-ripened tomatoes or large cherry tomatoes. As with all tomatoes, don’t store them in the fridge.