Feta is a soft brined curd cheese originating in Greece. It is traditionally made with sheeps or goats milk but I make mine with Cows milk.
Feta is normally cut and stored in cubes and is a lovely addition to salads, pastries and with fresh vegetables.
It has a reasonably salty flavour, particularly if stored in brine.
Feta Cheese Recipe Ingredients
- 10 litres milk
- 1/8 tsp Mesophilic culture (I use Chr.Hansen’s R704)
- Rennet – amounts as per manufacturers recommendations
- Non-iodized cheese salt, kosher salt or canning salt
- 1/8 tsp calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup water (optional for pasteurized milk – see below)
How To Make Feta Cheese Recipe At Home
- Warm milk to 32c
- Stir in the Culture
- Leave to ripen for 1 hour
- Add diluted Rennet
- Leave to set for 1 hour
- Carefully cut the curd into 1cm cubes
- Leave to rest for 10 minutes
- Very slowly heat the curds up to 38c over 30 minutes
- Stir regularly to prevent the curds from matting and to scald them all
- Leave to rest again for 10 minutes
- Ladle all the curd out (save your whey for Ricotta) into either a sterilised cheese cloth over a colander or bowl or a cheese cloth lined Feta mold
- Either hang your knotted cheese cloth over a sink for the cheese to press with it’s own weight or press in a rectangle mold for 4 hours (or overnight) at 15kg
- When pressed, cut the cheese into cubes and sprinkle generously over all sides with salt and then leave to drain on a cheese mat overnight (cover with a fly net)
- Place in a container and leave on the bench top to age for 3-4 days. If temperatures in your home are too warm, you can move the container to the fridge.
How To Store Feta Cheese
Short term you can store your Feta in the fridge if you intend to use immediately but if you want to keep it longer store the cheese in a brine solution. You can also store in olive oil with roasted garlic and rosemary which also leaves you with a delicious oil for dressings afterwards.
Note: To get a sharper more traditional flavour you can add Lipase to your Feta at the same time you add the culture.
To see information about any of the techniques used above see the Techniques page.
For common challenges when making Feta cheese, check out the Troubleshooting page.
Salting Feta – Why This Is So Important
When learning how to make Feta cheese at home, you’ll often hear that salting is an important step of the process.
While the flavor is, no doubt, an important role, salt serves a couple other functions which include;
- A regulator of microbial growth: Salt has proven anti-microbial properties. With this in mind, it can be used to control the growth of some microbes.
- Salt boosts moisture loss: Salt draws moisture out of whey in the initial cheese making steps. The process dries the cheese and effects on its overall texture.
- Altering texture: Salt alters the protein structures in cheese both directly and indirectly. Removing moisture affects Feta cheese’s texture by while in certain concentrations, it can affect how enzymes and microbes behave. This has an overall effect on the texture, flavor, and how the cheese will come out.
After about five days, it is recommended to put your Feta cheese in brine and age it for about a week to four weeks in the refrigerator.
Although Feta cheese is ready to eat after a week, aging it longer in brine results in saltier, firmer, and more flavorful cheese.
Failing to salt the Feta properly may cause the cheese loose shape and deteriorate. This will make the cheese look like it is melting. Feta melts in brine link
Using Calcium Chloride For Pasteurized Milk
The issue with homemade Feta cheese, however, is that the milk is pasteurized and homogenized. The pasteurization processes drastically change the chemical structure of the milk.
Both of these changes includes a slight decrease in the levels of calcium in the milk.
Calcium is a critical component for proper curd formation. Using Calcium chloride adds calcium ions to the pasteurized milk which slightly raises its acidity during the cheese making process.
Calcium chloride also strengthens the protein molecules in the milk, boosting the overall yield of your cheese by as much as 2 to 3%.
It’s use in cheesemaking is so important in fact, a majority of commercial and artisan cheese makers consider it a must-have and add it to their milk before renneting.
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