How to Make Feta Cheese
With a few special ingredients and a little bit of time, you can easily make your own crumbly feta cheese at home with this step-by-step tutorial.
- 1 gal raw milk
- 1 pkg direct set mesophilic culture or feta cheese starter culture
- 1/2 tsp liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 C. cool, non-chlorinated water
- 2 Tbsp flake sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/3 C kosher salt non-iodized
- 1/2 gal water non-chlorinated
Add the Culture
Add the mesophilic culture by sprinkling over the top of the milk. Allow that culture to hydrate for 1 minute, then slowly stir into the milk for 30 seconds. Cover the milk and allow it to rest for 1 hour.
During that time, keep the milk at 86 degrees. (Either wrap a bath towel around the pot or put the pot in a sink of water at 86 degrees). The temperature of the milk should remain steady during this time, but if it doesn't, simply add more warm water to the sink to increase the temperature of the milk in the pot.
Add the Rennet
After that hour, add the rennet, making sure it has been diluted in 1/4 C. cool, non-chlorinated water. Stir up and down to distribute the rennet evenly. Cover again and allow the milk to set for 45 minutes. Check for a clean break in the curd. If a clean break is not yet there, cover again and allow to sit an additional 10-15 minutes.
Cut the Curd
At this time, the milk will be a large, solid mass of curd (it may resemble tofu). Cut the curd into half inch cubes vertically, then again horizontally (like a checkerboard) at 1/2 inch intervals. Then hold the knife at a 45 degree angle and cut the curd horizontally to capture the curd under the surface.
Let the curd rest for 10 minutes. Cutting the curd allows the curds to lose whey, and thus they will shrink as time goes on. With a large spoon, gently stir the curds over the next 20-30 minutes. The curds should retract a bit.
Drain the Curds
Place a clean dish towel, butter muslin or cheesecloth over a colander that has been placed over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds in and allow the whey to drain off.
Once the whey has drained off, tie the cloth in a knot at the top and hang from the cabinet over a bowl (to collect the whey). Allow remaining whey to drip off over the course of the next 4-5 hours if not overnight (overnight is easier!)
Brine the Feta
At this point in time, there are a few different paths you could take. You can opt to cut the curd into 1" cubes, then sprinkle with a few tablespoons of salt. Set the cubes in a dish and cover loosely with plastic to age for 5-6 days.
Or.. remove the cheese from the cheesecloth and place into a round mold or in a feta mold, and press at 15 lbs for 6-8 hours (or overnight at best). If you don't have a press, you can cover your cheese with a plate or large cutting board and place a hand weight on top.
One pressed, slowly heat 1/2 gallon of water with 1/3 C. salt until the salt is dissolved. Refrigerate the cheese in the brine for 5-6 days.