Tangy, crumbly and white, feta cheese can seem like goat cheese to a casual eye, but it isn't -- at least not mostly. The exact recipe for feta can vary, but most feta is made primarily from ewes' milk. Some cheeses with similar taste and texture are entirely made from goat or cow milk, but true feta is not.
Traditional Greek feta contains either only sheep milk or a mixture of sheep and goat milk. However, goat milk is never the main ingredient -- 30 percent is the upper limit. After the curdled cheese solidifies, the cheese maker cuts it into slices -- the word feta comes from a word meaning "slice" -- and packs it in brine or oil to preserve it. Different regions of Greece produce different types of feta, varying in texture and taste. Feta is Greece's favorite cheese, accounting for more than two-thirds of the country's cheese consumption.
In Europe, feta is a Protected Designation of Origin product, like Champagne or cheddar. To be sold as feta, cheese must come from certain regions of Greece and contain only the traditional ingredients. Similar cheese from other countries, such as Denmark or France, once carried the feta name but now cannot be sold as feta. However, outside Europe you may still see stores selling French, Danish or Bulgarian cheese as feta. This feta may contain cow milk and often has a creamier flavor and crumblier consistency than its Greek counterpart.
Although feta cheese isn't predominantly a goat cheese, some goat cheeses can be similar in appearance or texture to feta. For instance, Bryndza, a sheep or goat cheese common in Russia and Slovakia, is similar in taste and consistency. Some recipes recommend goat cheese as an alternative to feta cheese for cooks who can't lay their hands on the real thing.