How to make Feta Cheese.
15 minutes for preparation LENGTH OF COOKING: 3 hours 38 hours BRINING AND DRYING
YIELD: 1 1 12 pounds.
Being partly Greek, I have memories of traveling to Corinth to see my paper when I was little. A few feet tall containers lay on the floor of a cool nook outside the kitchen. It included a large block of feta cheese that was submerged in brine or water.
I used to just take a piece of bread and a large slice of that feta on the way out the door and call it lunch because I was itching to get outdoors and play with my closest buddy.
When novice cheese makers are ready for something more complex than yogurt or ricotta but don’t want to have to wait months for the results, feta is an excellent cheese to attempt (as you have to do with many other kinds of cheese).
The flavor and texture of this handcrafted feta cheese transport me back to my early years in Greece. If you can get goat’s milk, use it instead of cow’s milk, but both work well.
- whole milk, ideally goat’s milk, 1 gallon
- 112 teaspoons of split calcium chloride, 1 packet of mesophilic starting culture, and 1 package of mesophilic starter culture
- 1 pound of kosher or another non-iodized salt and 1/2 a rennet tablet dissolved in 1/4 cup of water or 1/2 a teaspoon of liquid rennet*
- Divided, 23.4 teaspoons of white or cider vinegar
- Suppliers of ingredients for manufacturing cheese at home may provide you with rennet, calcium chloride, and mesophilic starting culture; see Useful Resources.
Large nonreactive pot made of stainless steel or another material (no copper, aluminum, or unnamed cast iron)
the digital meat thermometer, cheese, or sweets
a bread knife, a cheese knife, or another long-bladed knife
Butter muslin or cheesecloth
- Fill a big saucepan with milk. Put the pot in the sink, and then fill the sink with hot water so that it comes up the sides of the pot by about three-quarters. As an alternative, you might place the complete pot of milk into a bigger pot of boiling water. You want to heat the milk very gradually using a double boiler effect; you don’t want to place the pot of milk directly over a source of heat. Milk is gradually heated to 86°F.
- Add the mesophilic starting culture and mix gently. For one hour, keep the mixture at 86°F. It is easier for me to remove the saucepan from the boiling water at this time. It retains heat pretty well, but if left in hot water for too long, it tends to overheat.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of calcium chloride and stir.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of calcium chloride and stir.
- Crush the rennet tablet and then dissolve it in 1/4 cup of cold water if you’re using it. To the milk, add. Add the liquid rennet straight to the milk if you’re using it. Stir gently for one minute.
- Keeping the combination at a temperature as near to 86°F as you can, let it alone for 30 minutes. In the event that it begins to cool down too much, this can include placing it back into the hot water in the sink for a few minutes.
- The milk mixture will thicken and take on a yogurt-like appearance. Insert a clean finger into the curd (the semi-solid milk mixture) about an inch deep, and then slowly draw the finger toward you. When the curd separates around your finger rather than sticking to it, it has made a “clean break” and is considered to have set. It will have a hard yogurt-like texture. Wait another 30 minutes if the curd hasn’t already broken cleanly.
- Use a long-bladed knife to slice the curd. First, make slices that go all the way through the curd and are spaced about an inch apart, cutting from one side to the other. Repeat after rotating the pot a quarter turn; the second round of slices should cross the first in a tic-tac-toe pattern.
- Make one last cut through the curd by inserting the knife diagonally across the squares formed by your earlier cuts and at a 45-degree angle to the curd’s surface. This need not be precise. You want the curd to be cut into pieces that are about an inch long.
- Gently fold in the curd bits. Reposition the pot into the sink or a bigger pot of hot water, then gradually increase the temperature until it reaches 95°F (this should take approximately an hour). The yellowish liquid you see is the whey, and it will begin to separate from the curds.
- Use several layers of cheesecloth or butter muslin to line a colander. Colander with curds and whey within. Let them drain at room temperature for 4 hours.
- As the curds drain, they will clump together. After slicing the formed mass into rough chunks approximately 3 inches broad, let them to drain for an additional 30 minutes.
- To make a saturated brine, combine 12 gallon of water with 12 pound of kosher or other non-iodized salt. When using alternative non-iodized salt, add 1/4 cup at a time to 12 gallon of water. Salt should be added in increments of 1/4 cup, stirring after each addition to ensure thorough salt dissolution. When salt no longer dissolves in the water, stop adding it.
- Combine the brine with 1 teaspoon of calcium chloride and 2 12 tablespoons of vinegar.
- For 10 to 12 hours, submerge the blocks of feta in the salted brine. If you soak them in the brine for much longer, the feta will turn out to be far too salty.
- Use a colander to drain the cheese. After two days of leaving it out in the open at room temperature, move it into a closed container and store it in the refrigerator. It may last up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Make a fairly strong brine for long-term preservation by dissolving 2 tablespoons of non-iodized salt in 1 pint of water, adding 1/4 teaspoon vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride. In this brine, your handmade feta cheese will last for many months.