Make Feta Cheese Video (Cheesemaking Part 10)

How to make feta cheese at home

 

Today we’re going to make FETA CHEESE!

Feta is a great beginner cheese and an easy quick cheese for the seasoned cheesemaker. Feta has few steps and does not require a cheese press. I’ve never had a Feta cheese flop or turn out poorly.

Traditionally, feta is made with sheep’s or goat’s milk. Cows milk can also be used for a more mild feta and the addition of lipase enzyme will had that bolder flavor that you’d get with goat or sheep’s milk.

I have included written instructions as well as a step-by-step video tutorial for making feta, enjoy!

 

INGREDIENTS

MILK (cow, goat or sheep) – 1.5 Gallons. Click here for more on milk quality

RENNET – 1/2 tsp. liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup water

CULTURE – 1/4 tsp. powered Meso II or Aroma B or MT1 or 1/8 tsp. of Flora Danica or 1/4 cup of cultured buttermilk

LIPASE – 1/8 tsp. (optional, use with cows milk to sharpen flavor, don’t use with MT1 culture)

CALCIUM CHLORIDE – 1/2 tsp. diluted in 1/2 c. water (optional if you’re using store bought milk or if your milk is from a cow late or early in lactation)

EQUIPMENT

  • 20 Qt Stock Pot.
  • 21.5 Qt Water-Bath Canner w/ rack 
  • 12” Thermometer.
  • 2 Basic basket molds. You want baskets that can fit inside each other for “pressing”.
  • A skimmer
  • Icing knife. 12″ Curd Knife
  • Measuring spoons. Norpro 18/10 Stainless Steel Measuring Spoon Set (Including Mini)
  • Stainless Steel Measuring Cups
  • Stainless Steel Colander. Don’t use your kitchen colander, buy another colander  just for cheesemaking
  • Mesh Strainer Stainless SteelCheese cloth –
  • Optional: pH meter, here’s the one I have –  Hanna Instruments HI 98128W pH Meter

DIRECTIONS

1.) Place all your stainless equipment in the stock pot and fill with water. Boil for 15 minutes. Sanitize plastic equipment with water and a tad of bleach, then rinse well. Thoroughly clean and sanitize counters, sink and any place you will be making cheese. Refer to Part 4 of my Cheesemaking Series for more information on sanitation .

2.) Warm milk in double boiler, you can use a water-bath canner with the rack upside down, to 86°F (30° C). The pH of good raw milk should be between 6.6 and 6.7. Any pH above 6.9 is bad milk, don’t use it for cheesemaking. Checking pH is an optional step.

3.) Sprinkle cultures on top of milk, let them dissolve on surface for 3 minutes before stirring. Then use the 20 round strokes stir in (see video). 1/4 tsp. powered Meso II or Aroma B or MT1 OR 1/8 tsp. of Flora Danica OR 1/4 cup of cultured buttermilk.

4.) Cover pot and let milk sit for 45 minutes. If using pasteurized milk, let it sit 60 minutes. Maintain temperature of 86°F (30° C).

5.) If using cow’s milk, sprinkle 1/8 tsp. of lipase (optional) on top of milk, stir in with 20 round strokes, milking top and bottom.

6.) Add 1/2 tsp. calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup of cool filtered water (optional). Pour in milk and mix 20 strokes.

7.) 1/2 tsp. liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool filtered water. Pour in milk and mix 20 strokes. After stirring, help the milk stop moving.

8.) Cover the milk and let it sit for 30-45 minutes, or until your get a “clean break” (see video for demonstration).

9.) Test for a clean break (see video for example). Then cut the curd into 1/2” cubes like a checkerboard. Let curds heal for 5 minutes after cutting. Then gently stir the curds for the next 20 minutes, maintain temperature at 86°F (30° C). If you desire a firmer, less crumbly cheese, cook curds to 90°F (32° C).

10.) Separate the whey from the curds, by pouring into your molds. I put a 2 gallon bucket in the sink with a stainless steel colander on top and your basket mold inside the colander. Pour everything into the mold and let the whey fall into the bucket. After the first mold is full, fill the second. Save extra curds to top off the molds.

11.) Place molds back in your empty cheese pot stacked. Stack the molds by putting on top of the other and cover the pot to keep in moisture and maintain a constant temperature.

The weight of the cheese on top, will help expel the whey. Re-stack and flip the cheese many times to make sure you have even cheese and whey draining. Remove all the excess whey on the bottom of the pot, don’t let the molds sit in whey, it’ll mess up the draining.

12.) Drain Cheese for 6-10 hours. During draining, your target pH range is between 4.8 and 5.0 (this is an optional check).

After draining the cheese will feel firm and your goal pH range is between 4.6 and 4.8.

13.) If you want to eat the cheese fresh or within the next week or two, just dry salt the cheese by sprinkling 1-2 tbs of salt on all sides and let it drain at room temperature (under 70 degrees F) for 12 hours. Refrigerate and eat.

If you want a full flavored cheese that can be kept for a long time, you’ll need to put the fresh cheese in a fully saturated brine of 26% salt.

If you don’t have a cheese brine handy, brine is easy to make and can be reused. The brine needs to be kept in a cool environment like your cheese cave. Gianaclis Caldwell in her book, Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking, says “A well-made and maintained brine can last almost indefinitely”. Which means filtering your brine periodically through a fine woven cheese cloth, putting it out in the hot sun to let the UV rays kill any bacteria, yeasts and molds, and adding salt when needed.

To make a 26% salt brine: mix 1 gallon of 60 degree water, 1 Tbs of cal chloride (optional), 1 Tbs of vinegar and 2.52 lbs of salt. Store in a 2 gallon food grade plastic bucket.

14.) Brine feta for 8 hours per pound of cheese. Flip the cheese in the brine half way through to make sure all sides are brined. You’ll probably have about 1 lb of cheese in each wheel, so brine the cheese for 8 hours… and then take it out of the 26% fully saturated brine and put it into a light brine of 16% salt solution.

You can experiment with a less salty brine, but if you don’t get your salt content and brine acidity just right, your cheese will melt in the brine. The sweet spot to not melt is at about 16% salt content in your brine. Also, you can use the whey from your feta as the “water” and then add salt. Using the whey as the liquid will give a lower acidity that will also help prevent melting. I’ve messed up many many many cheese trying to preserve feta in a brine that wasn’t salty enough. I finally bought a Salt Brine Hydrometer.

You can also preserve your feta in olive oil (the cheese won’t melt). I put chunks of the cheese in mason jars with fresh garlic, basil and dried tomatoes then pour olive over to cover cheese. This will keep for a year or longer. Store in your cheese aging environment. This is a very yummy option, but more work! 🙂

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Comments

  1. Diane Fish says:

    Can you please tell me how to make the lighter brine with whey? What is the amounts used? You are wonderful and I am learning so much from you. Thanks for all you do.

  2. Rachel Bezile says:

    Hi Rashel, I have made two batches of Feta according to your instruction. The videos are so helpful…so you can see what it looks like. The first batch I hand salted…too salty for me, so this second batch I followed your brining recipe. The feta did “melt” a bit and I found out that the brine was probably too alkaline.(you might mention that in your video). So, one thing is I am buying a PH meter and secondly, just what PH should the brine be. If too alkaline, one web site said to let it sit out (covered) for 12 to 24 hours. What do you suggest?? Thanks for all of the time giving us wonderful and useful information.

  3. Claudine says:

    Hi Rashel,
    Your site is fantastic and the videos are very helpful! I made my first cheddar curd yesterday but turned out to be more like crumbled feta… Anyway, it tastes good so it’s ok. Since I already own a pH meter (same as yours actually), I would like to know how you measure the curd pH as mentioned in step 12. This kind of handheld tester is meant to be dipped into solutions so I wonder if you figured a way to do it with curds…
    Thanks, Claudine

  4. How long do you age the cheese in the lighter brine before you can eat it?

    • 12-24 hours. It’s a matter of preference… how salty you like it:)

      • What if you don’t need to keep the feta for a long time, say I will eat in in the next week or two. What % salt brine? How long do I keep it in before I can eat it?
        Also, I find the feta very salty. I understand I can soak it in water to wash out some of the salt. How long do I do it before it get mushy?

        • I recently got a tip from my friend to avoid the mushy feta in that lighter salt brine… the secret is to make that lighter brine with the whey from the cheese. Your cheese won’t be to salty and it won’t melt!!! The melting has to do with the pH of the brine… if it’s to Alkaline it melts. I need to update my blog post with this great info… but haven’t had time 🙂 Happy Cheesemaking. Thanks for reading our blog!

  5. Hi, great videos. I love your site. Thanks for sharing. I am just beginning and have a quick question on the feta. If I am preserving it in olive oil, do I need to do the brine solution step 14 or can I just go through step 13 and then put in olive oil? Also, if I choose to preserve in brine, do I still add the salt in step 13, does the brine make it saltier? Thanks!!!

    • Hey Linda,
      Feta get’s it salt from brining, since salt isn’t added to the curds. Do the first saturated brine and then you can transfer to the olive oil and that’ll preserve it just as well as the lighter brine. It’ll also be yummy!

  6. I am just starting to make cheese. I do have a question, although it does seem a little silly…..I see you placing your pots of curd on towels. Is there a particular reason for this? Also is there any reason not to put all your cheeses in one cave? Or is it important to have them separated? Thank you. Really enjoy the videos. Would love to see more. 🙂

    • I just set the pot on towels, because it just came from that water bath… the the bottom is all wet 🙂 good question! 🙂
      Yes you can have one cave! I got two caves for two reasons…. 1.) I filled up the first and 2.) blooming rinds and moldy blues do better in there own environment. But you can keep them in there own box but it needs holes… and the mold will get on all your other cheese. You’ll always be rubbing it off everything.

  7. Christine says:

    In your video for feta, you used Meso II – is that your favorite for flavor? Does it taste a lot better than the Aroma B or Flora Danica? We tried making this with MT1 (and our fresh raw jersey cow’s milk) for the first time, and we thought it tasted a lot like mozzarella…we’re making our second batch of feta today with Meso II and hoping for a closer-to-feta taste.

  8. we have our own jersey cows ,do you pasteurize your milk first when you make cheese using your own milk. If so how do you do it ?

    • No, I use raw milk when I make cheese. There are some recipes however that require you to heat the milk to 180 degrees like mozzarella and yogurt… but most recipes use raw milk. Real unpasteurized milk from cows raised on pasture is perfect for cheesemaking and makes a superior cheese to pasteurized milk cheeses. Hope that helps.

      • I find my fetta when finished is quiet soft and i cant crumble it , it tastes lovely but I would like to make it firmer ,as I think that is why it is melting in the brine .

        • Hey Sue, Your cheese will melt no matter how hard the cheese is, if your salt content in the brine is too low. I’ve lost several batches of feta figuring that out. I’m thinking the sweet point is about 16% salt in the less salty second storage brine. For example that first saturated brine… your cheese won’t ever get slimy… I’ve had cheese in the 26% salt brine for a year and it’s still good, but just realllly salty cheese.

  9. Sometimes at the store we like to get feta with peppers and sundried tomatoes in it. Do you think you could just add those into each basket when you strain them the first time, or do you think they’d go bad in the cheese? I suppose we could just serve plain cheese with peppers and tomatoes… :).

    • Yes! The key ingredient is olive oil. If you want to add tomatoes and have it be preserved for a up to a year, they need to be added dried (like sun dried tomatoes). Herbs can be added fresh. Usually, I cut up the finished feta in chunks put it in a mason jar and then shove cayenne peppers, fresh whole garlic cloves, basil and dried tomatoes on the side of the container. It’ll keep in the refrigerator for a year if it’s in olive oil… some people say it’ll keep indefinitely. It’ really delicious.

  10. Melanie says:

    Hi Rashel,

    You’ve inspired me! Thanks for the great instructions on how to make cheese. My question is, can a person make cheese from homogenized milk? Because it is illegal to sell, buy, or otherwise trade raw milk in Canada (it’s even illegal to give it away to your friends and family, believe it or not – even though people do!), it’s very difficult to find it. But it would still be more economical for me to make my own feta from store-bought milk, so I’d like to try. But if it has to be non-homogenized, I’m out of luck. Oh, and does the fat content matter? Ie. can it be made from skim, 1%, 2%, whole, etc? Thanks!

    • Melanie,
      Yes, you can make cheese from pasteurized and homogenized milk. Just make sure to add the optional calcium chloride. Check out realmilk.com there may be a source for milk in your area. Yes, you can make cheese from all types, skim 1%, 2% and whole. Example… Parmesan is traditionally made with skim milk… Feta can be made with any of the types… yogurt can me made with any of the milk types. Mozzarella with part skim or all skim… all your hard and semi hard cheese usually taste much better and richer with whole milk. You’ll have to experiment and find what you and your family likes.

      • Melanie says:

        Thanks so much for your response. I’m pretty keen to try making feta myself (I think I scare my husband when I get a bee in my bonnet like this. :)). I came across realmilk.com a few days ago, actually, and there are a few cowshare programs around here. However, they are very expensive. Being on a tight grocery budget (I’m a stay-at-home mom of 3, so we’re a single income family) makes it impossible for me to spend $8 a gallon for raw milk, when we drink at least 3 a week, so until I can figure something else out, I’ll have to try my hand with pasteurized, homogenized milk. Thanks again for all your information – I’m sure I’ll be back! 🙂

  11. Rashel, Your videos are so good, so inspiring and so thorough! Thank you and keep them coming! Lindsey

What are you thoughts?