Homemade Feta Cheese
"Feta Cheese Lab"Serves | Prep Time 15 minutes | Cook Time 3 hours
Why I Love This Recipe
We struggled in this lab to make feta cheese. Our curds never properly formed and we ended the session with what was essentially just warm milk. We believe that we did not properly control the temperature or that our ratios of rennet to milk was not sufficient.
Ingredients You'll Need
1 gallon milk (whole; goat milk)
1 packet Mesophilic starter culture
1 1/2 teaspoons calcium chloride (divided*)
1/2 rennet tablet (dissolved in 1/4 cup water OR 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet*)
2 quarts water (cool)
1/4 cup water (cool)
1 to 1 1/4 pounds salt (kosher or other non-iodized)
2 3/4 teaspoons vinegar (white or cider vinegar, divided)
Gather the ingredients.
Pour the milk into a large pot. Place the pot in a sink and fill the sink with hot water up to 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pot.
Heat the milk slowly to 86 F.
Gently stir in the Mesophilic starter culture. Keep the mixture at 86 F for 30 minutes (the recipe originally suggested 1 hour but we adjusted for our time limits)
Stir in 1/4 teaspoon calcium chloride.
Add liquid rennet, Gently stir for 1 minute.
Leave the mixture alone for 1/2 hour, maintaining the 86 F temperature as closely as possible.
The milk mixture will set up and look something like yogurt. Poke a clean finger about an inch deep into the curd (the semi-solid milk mixture) and gently pull your finger towards you. The curd is set when it forms a "clean break," separating around your finger. It will feel like firm yogurt.
If the curd hasn't reached the clean break stage yet, wait another 1/2 hour.
Cut the curd with a long-bladed knife. First cut from one side to the other, making slices that go all the way through the curd and are about an inch apart. Turn the pot a quarter turn around and repeat (the second round of slices will cross the first like a tic-tac-toe pattern).
Cut the curd one last time coming in with the knife diagonally across the squares made by your previous slices, and at a 45 degree angle to the surface of the curd.
Stir the chunks of curd very gently. Put the pot back into the sink or larger pot of hot water and gradually raise the temperature to 95 F. You want it to take about an hour. The curds will start to separate from the whey, which is the yellowish liquid you'll see.
Line a colander with butter muslin or several layers of cheesecloth. Pour the curds and whey into the colander and then bring the four corners of the muslin up and tie into a tight knot. Let them drain for 4 hours at room temperature.
The curds will congeal together while they drain. Cut the mass that has formed into rough blocks about 3 inches wide and let them drain in the muslin for another 1/2 hour.
Make a saturated brine by dissolving 1 to 1 1/4 pounds of kosher or another non-iodized salt in 1/2 gallon of water. Add the salt a little at a time, and stop adding salt when it won't dissolve any further. Add 1 teaspoon of calcium chloride and 2 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar.
Remove the blocks of feta from the muslin and submerge them in the saturated brine for 10 to 12 hours. Note: do not leave them in longer than this. This will result in cheese that is too salty.
Drain the feta. Leave it out uncovered at room temperature for 1 to 2 days. Transfer the feta to covered containers. Store in the refrigerator or a cool cellar or garage.