Date Posted:29 June 2018
Although the texture of Feta may be quite soft, it is technically a hard curd cheese. Feta is an excellent starting point for your adventures into hard cheese making, as it is the easiest to make, uses the same basic techniques as the more advanced hard cheeses, can be aged in a regular refrigerator and can be eaten just days after being made. This is the recipe I use when making Feta with cow’s milk.
4 litres of milk
⅛ teaspoon of calcium chloride diluted in ¼ cup non-chlorinated water
Lipase (see the packet for the amount to add) dissolved in ¼ cup of non-chlorinated water, prepared 20 minutes before. Lipase is optional and for flavour only.
Mesophilic hard curd cheese starter culture (see the packet for the amount to add)
¼ tablet of rennet or ¼ teaspoon of liquid rennet diluted in ¼ cup of non-chlorinated water
1-2 tablespoons cheese salt
Stainless steel pot to place your milk in
A second, larger pot to place your first pot in, to act as a water jacket, so you can indirectly heat your milk
Stainless steel perforated spoon
Stainless steel curd knife
Stainless steel ladle
Loose weave cheese making cloth
2 Feta baskets
If you are using lipase, rehydrate this in your ¼ cup of non-chlorinated water now, so that it will have been done 20 minutes before it is added to the milk.
Place your milk into a large stainless steel pot and then place this pot into your second, larger pot with water in it to act as a water jacket. Add your calcium chloride and mix in well.
Using indirect heat, slowly heat your milk to 30°C. Add your starter culture and stirring gently, mix in well. If you are using lipase add this now and stirring gently, mix in well.
Allow to ripen for one hour, maintaining the temperature at 30°C.
Add your rennet solution to the milk and stir in gently, using an up and down motion for one minute, ensuring that the rennet is evenly distributed throughout the milk. Cover and allow to rest undisturbed for one hour, while maintaining the temperature at 30°C.
Check for a clean break. If the curd is not firm enough leave for another five minutes and check again. Be patient and wait for a clean break. Once the curd is firm enough and gives a clean break, cut the curd into one to one and a half centimetre cubes. Allow the curds to rest for 10 minutes.
Gently stir the curds for 20 minutes, while maintaining the temperature at 30°C. Be careful not to be too rough and shatter the curds. Line your two Feta baskets with loose weave cheese making cloth. If you take a 90 centimetre square of cloth you can cut it into four quarters, so you have two for use now and two to put away for later.
Gently ladle your curds and whey into your lined baskets. Be sure to catch the whey for future use in cooking or for adding to your brine solution, if you intend brining your Feta. If you do not get all of your curds into the basket you may need to wait a few minutes for the curds already in the basket to settle. Then once there is room add the remaining curds and whey.
Once both baskets are full, and you have all of your curds in the baskets, fold the cloth over the top of the curds and then place one basket on top of the other so the weight of the curds in the top basket are pressing the curds in the bottom basket. You will need to swap the baskets over every 15 minutes for the first 90 minutes and then every hour for the next five to six hours. This is to ensure that the curds in both baskets are pressed evenly.
If you like your Feta drier you may press the cheese in the baskets by placing a filled or part filled two litre milk bottle on top of the top basket to act as additional weight. Whether you do this and for how long will be a matter of personal taste and experience.
Once the cheeses have drained remove them from the baskets, peel away the cheese making cloth and on a clean cutting board, cut the Feta into one and a half centimetre cubes.
Place your cubes of Feta into a storage container with a grid in the bottom so that the Feta will not be sitting in any additional whey that drains from the cheese.
Sprinkle the cubes of Feta with one to two tablespoons of cheese salt. I suggest starting out with one tablespoon and then decreasing or increasing this to taste as required.
Store in the fridge and allow to age for three days before eating. This allows the Feta to developed more flavour. This Feta will keep in the fridge for one week to 10 days.
Alternatively prepare a brine solution and store in the fridge for up to 30 days.
Notes on the use of lipase:
If you choose to use lipase please note that using lipase may make a softer curd, so you may need to increase the calcium chloride as well as the rennet.
Brine for Feta
2 litres non-chlorinated water
300 grams cheese salt
3-4 drops calcium chloride
The pH of the brine needs to be between 5.2 and 5.3. This can be tested with a piece of pH paper or a pH monitor. Add a little citric acid or white vinegar to the brine to reduce the pH as needed. Whey from your cheese making can also be added to lower the pH. For every litre of brine add 125 millilitres of whey that has been ripened for 24 hours.
Storing Feta in olive oil:
Once your Feta has been salted, either by sprinkling salt onto the cubes of cheese, or by placing them in brine for three days, place the cubes of Feta into a glass jar, leaving a head-space of one and a half centimetres and cover completely with olive oil. Seal tightly and store. For a variation of this, infuse the oil with the flavour of your choice, such as adding some chilli flakes or crushed garlic. Get creative and design your own special marinade.
Creating different types of Feta styles:
Danish Feta is a softer creamier style cheese. This is usually incubated and cooked at 30°C to 32°C and stirred for 20 minutes. It has little to no weight added at pressing time and a lower amount of salt is used.
Greek Feta is a drier more crumbly style cheese. This is usually incubated and cooked at 34°C to 36°C and then stirred for longer than 20 minutes. The longer time allows the pH to reduce further which also assist in lowering the moisture content. Additional weight is added during pressing and usually the salt content is higher.
This recipe is from Home Cheese Making in Australia by Valerie Pearson, now in its Second Edition. To get your hands on a copy of this book or to purchase any cheese making ingredients or equipment, please go to our website or call our helpline on 07 3808 5276 Mon-Sat, 9:00AM – 4:30PM.