Graviera Kritis cheese is produced from sheep milk in Crete. In certain circumstances, where goat milk is added, its percentage cannot exceed 20% of the total. It is a milk particularly rich in fat and caseins, ingredients that are maintained almost completely during the transformation from milk to cheese, and as a result can be found in high quantities.
The milk used for the production of this cheese must come from animals that are allowed to graze freely in mountaineous and semi-mountaineous regions in Crete, where no polutants such as insect repellents or peesticides can be found. As a result, its products can be characterised as biological. Sheep and goat raising in Crete is similar to that found in the rest of the country. It consists of small native species that produce relatively small quantities of milk, that is however particularly rich in nutritional ingredients, especially fat and proteins. Small manufacturing units are spread throughout the island, and the herds are moved during the winter months to the milder seaside regions.
For the production of this cheese, the coagulation of milk occurs at 34-36 oC. The curd is then divided after approximately 30 minutes. It is then warmed up to 50-52 oC while constantly stirred, and is then poured into moulds and placed under pressure. The cheese is then transported to a room at 14-16 oC and humidity of approximately 85%. A day later it is placed in 18-20 Be brine for 2 to 5 days, depending on the size of the cheese. The maturing of the cheese occurs in booths with a temperature of 14-18 oC and humidity of 85-90%. At this stage, the cheese is periodically upturned and is salted 10 times. During the maturing process, a micro-flora develops on the surface, which contributes to the maturing and the development of the sensory characteristics of the cheese. The total maturation time is at least 3 months.