Making feta cheese
A couple years ago I learned to make feta cheese, but as time goes by you “get rusty”. Now that I have some goats milk coming in again, I have a surplus of milk that needs to be used up. Its a good time to refresh my technique of making cheeses again.
One of my main thoughts in making cheese was... “is this a skill I want to learn? Can I easily obtain all ingredients if I can’t buy them?” There are two main types of culture and these need to be obtained before making your cheese. You know me, I want to know how and why and “what would I do IF I can‘t buy it somewhere?” In the case of feta, you need a mesophilic culture. This put me on the quest of learning what a mesophilic culture is and HOW or IF I can make my own. This led me down a rabbit hole that surprisingly was an easy experiment and very successful! I have had the one I made frozen for over a year and it is still working great! I will do a blog on how to make your own soon!
This is a super simple project! As with any milk product requiring a culture, it needs to be pasteurized. This is a step I need to do first as I am using my raw goats milk. The reason being is that raw milk has lots of good bacteria in it. This bacteria will compete with the bacteria of the culture. It may not turn out a true feta depending on which bacteria populates the fastest. If you are using store bought milk, this step will already be done for you.
To pasteurize I bring my milk temperature slowly up to 160 degrees and hold for 15 seconds. Then immediately put the pot in ice water to quickly bring the temperature down.
First, the cleanliness and temperature is very important in this whole process so be precise.
I heated 1 gallon of milk to 86 degrees and added my culture (1 ice cube culture), stirred in well and held the temperature for an hour.
Next, you want to add your rennet. One thing I learned is that rennet comes in different strengths so there is not a “solid” recipe amount to add. You need to read your specific rennet and add what is needed for the amount of milk you have. I have a super concentrate so I only need 1/2 teaspoon of liquid rennet diluted with 1/3 cp water. Then gently stir for a couple minutes using and soft up and down motion. Then let it rest for 1 hour, still maintaining the 86 degrees temperature.
By this time you should notice that your milk has turned firm. It is time to cut your curds into 1 inch by 1 inch cubes and GENTLY stir for 10 minutes. This helps separate the curds and whey so you will notice your cubes getting some smaller... this is normal. Then strain the liquid whey and curds thru a cheese cloth and hang to further drain for 6 hours.
After 6 hours take the cheese and cut it into cubes again and salt to taste (3-5 tablespoons). It is best to use a cheese salt, but a table salt will do in a “ pinch.” 😉
Cover and refridgerate for 5 days.
So now we wait and we will finish in a few days! Basically all that is left is to make a salt brine and it will be ready to store in the refrigerator. Stay tuned!