July 10, 2013 in Cheese Making
I have very little experience in cheese making. I am hoping that changes someday, with the introduction of a milking animal to our homestead, but without one it just hasn’t been something that seemed practical.
Feta cheese was so easy to make, even I was able to get it right. And man, is it delicious. What I love about feta is that it has such great flavor and can be added to any vegetables, starch, or meats that you happen to have lying around and will bring it all together into a flavorful meal.
When I experimented in cheesemaking a few years ago, I worked from a book and used fresh local cow’s milk. Goat or sheep’s milk is also supposed to make a tasty feta.
And if you’re interested in dabbling into the world of tasty and easy cheese making, then you might want to try this recipe, one of the many over at the CFH site written by people who know way more than I do about cheese making.
What you need:
- 1 gallon goat or cow milk
- Rennet: 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet or 1/2 rennet tablet
- Mesophilic culture:
- 1/8 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup water (optional)
- A large pot (if metal, be sure it’s non-reactive such as stainless steel)
- A wooden spoon
- Curd knife or other long blade knife
- Butter muslin or tea towel
Note on calcium chloride: Milk which is not produced locally often is not as fresh and goes through additional processesing to ensure its safe arrival at the store. If you are using non-local milk to make feta, consider using calcium chloride to improve the chances of firm curd formation.
- Warm the milk in a stainless steel (or other non-reactive) pot to 86°F. If using calcium chloride, incorate the mixture of diluted calcium chloride into the milk as the milk starts to warm up.
- Add the culture to the milk and stir thoroughly. Allow the milk to sit undisturbed for an hour at room temperature.
- Once the milk has sat, dilute the rennet in 1/4 cup cool water. Mix the rennet/water into the milk using an up and down motion with your spoon (not a stirring motion). Incorporate the rennet but do not over-mix.
- Place a lid on the pot and let the milk mixture sit undisturbed overnight. The next morning, check that the milk has gelled and there is a clean break in the curd.
- Use a knife to cut the curd into 1/2-inch x 1/2-inch cubes. If necessary, use very clean hands to check the bottom of the pot for curds that may have been missed.
- Gently stir the curd off and on over the next 20 minutes. The curds should become somewhat retracted.
- Place a tea towel, cotton bag, or multi-layered cheese cloth in a colander. Pour in the curds and allow the visible whey to drain off. Once the whey has drained, tie the cloth in knots and hang it over the sink or a bowl. Allow the curd to drain for another 4 hours or until no more whey drips off.
- While feta can be eaten fresh, the flavor is more pronouced if it is aged in a brine solution. Make a brine solution using 1/3 cup non-iodized salt and 1/2 gallon of water. Place the curds in the brine solution in a jar with a lid in the fridge. Brine for 4 to 5 days if using store-bought goat milk or for 30 days if using farm-fresh goat milk.
Extra tip: If you find that your curd doesn’t set firmly enough, some cheese makers suggest mixing 1/8 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup water into the milk the next time you make feta.