Feta cheese makes a wonderful addition to salads or sandwiches, or as a garnish for meat or vegetables. Generally made with goat milk, it can be made with cow milk if desired. This recipe makes 1 pound of feta cheese.
- 1 gallon goat or cow milk
- Rennet: 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet or 1/2 rennet tablet diluted in 1/4 cup cool water
- Mesophilic culture (choose one)
- 1/8 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup water (optional) (Note: Milk that is not produced locally often is not as fresh and goes through additional processing 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.)
- 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
- Thermometer, Basic or Digital
- Butter muslin or tea towel
- Warm the milk in a stainless steel (or other non-reactive) pot to 86°F. If using calcium chloride, incorporate 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 is ready, 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 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, butter muslin, 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 pronounced 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 as it is heating the next time you make feta.