Feta cheese is a favorite amongst us all, yet so many are afraid to try and make this. This is the one “exotic” cheese that I would certainly encourage you to make.
2 Gallons of Milk makes about 2.5 lbs of cheese
1/8 tsp Buttermilk Culture
1/4 tsp Single Strength Liquid Rennet
Calcium Chloride (if you use pasteurized milk)
Slotted Ladle to Stir Curds
Colander with small holes
1 pint jar of Water for Pressing
Our Feta recipe is made with raw cow milk but ewe or goats milk can easily be used to achieve more traditional flavors.
Heat milk to 93°F. When the target temperature is reached
dd 1/8 tsp of culture and ripen for 40-60 minutes. (Note: if using pasteurized milk, also add 1.5 ml calcium chloride)
Dilute rennet in 1/4 cup cool non-chlorinated water and add to milk.
Stir slowly in an up and down direction for 1 minute. Wait about 40 minutes or until you get a clean break when you insert a finger into the curds. Observe the break and if it does not break clean or the whey is very milky, more rennet is needed the next time (it can not be added now). If the curd seems tough or the whey excessively clear, then less should be used next time.
Keep this warm and cut into 1/2 inch squares, take about 25 minutes to stir slowly. You will need to judge the time stirring to the milk you use, with heavy late season milk needs longer. When the curds reach the proper dryness, allow them to settle to the bottom of the pot for 10 minutes.
Prepare sanitized molds (2 or 3) to receive the curds. No cloth is needed for these molds, but if using a mold with less openings you can use a cheesecloth to drain.
Pour off whey down to the curd level before transferring the curds to the draining mold. Very little acid will have been produced to this point.
Allow the curds to drain overnight keeping them at 68-72°F for this time and turning in the molds frequently for the first 2 hours, you can put a pint jar of water on the top of the molds if you like a firm feta. By the next morning or afternoon the cheese should be quite firm, consolidated and the smell of acid should be apparent.
The curd mass can now be cut into smaller pieces (1/2-1 lbs each). If you find the curds are still too moist at this point, some dry salt will help. Allow draining for another 6-12 hrs.
Now place in saturated brine for 8 hrs per lb.
Brine can be made by adding 2.5 lbs of non-iodized salt to 1/2 gal of water then topping up to 1 gal with water (there should be salt un-dissolved in the jar). If the brine is fresh add 1/2 tsp calcium chloride to the gallon (this will keep the brine from pulling calcium from the cheese). The brine should then be kept at 50-52°F . The brine can be filtered after use and reused.
Remove cheese from brine and arrange on mats to drain. Allow assimilation of salt for 1-3 days at 48-56°F covered loosely with sanitized cloth to prevent contamination. Turn each block several times a day to encourage draining/drying. This step will dry the surface, harden the cheese and allow the brine to stabilize throughout the feta.
Failure to do this can easily result in an unstable cheese when placed in the storage brine, in which case the calcium is stripped from the curd and the surface deteriorates in a matter of days.
Brine Storage for Feta
Cover the cheese with an 8% brine. Ripen at 48-50 degrees F for up to 30 days.
The storage brine is 6-8%, (6 to 8 ounces of salt in 3 quarts of water in a gallon glass jar) Storage temp is in the fridge at about 45 degrees. Do not leave much head space so no mold will form. Will stay good for up to a year.
IF this is too salty for you; soak in milk for a couple hours before using.