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!
RENNET – 1/2 tsp. liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup water
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)
- 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
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! 🙂