Have Patience, Dear DIY-ers, for Fabulous Feta
Fancy some feta? This briny, crumbly, aged cheese is ranked up there with baklava and moussaka. The Greeks did it right.
If you've followed this blog from the beginning, many of the cheeses were basic and great for cheesemaking-newbs. Now with these beginner cheeses up your sleeve, it's time to risk it all...with this not-so-hard DIY feta recipe. The most difficult part of this cheese? Waiting for it to be ready! Plan a week ahead. A week is all you need.
“I love crumbling feta cheese on salads,” says Sawsan Abu Farha, blogger of Chef in Disguise, who shared with us her photos and recipe on homemade feta. “I mix it with other types of cheese of with herbs to make a stuffing for pastry. It is great in salsa and dips, too.” If this is your first time making cheese, Sawsan recommends starting with a ricotta recipe before tackling feta. You can find this blog's DIY ricotta entry here. “Cheese making can seem daunting at first but if you start with simple cheeses and work your way to more complicated ones, you will really enjoy it,” says Sawsan. Note that this cheese needs to brine for five days after it’s made.
Makes about ½ pound feta
- ½ gallon cow/sheep/goat’s milk*
- 1 tablespoon live culture, plain yogurt mixed with 1 tablespoon milk
- ¼ rennet tablet dissolved in 3 ounces distilled water at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5-½ tablespoons salt for every 20 fluid ounces whey
- Large pot
- Cheese Mold
Step 1: Mix Ingredients and Let Sit
Warm milk in pot with lid to 86˚F, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add yogurt-milk mixture, stir, cover with lid and let sit for 1 hour at room temperature. Add dissolved rennet, stir quickly and leave overnight. Cheese should be one large block of curd with whey separated on side.
Step 2: Check for a Clean Break
Test the curd for a “clean break” by sticking your finger slowly into the surface. Finger should come up relatively clean. If finger comes out covered, let sit for 2 more hours and check again.
Step 3: Slice
Use a long knife to cut parallel lines through curd to make cubes.
Step 4: Strain
Let cubes sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Curds will shrink. Use cheesecloth to strain. Do not discard the whey; pour into medium bowl instead. Once most of whey has been strained, collect cloth’s corners and tie into knot. Suspend over bowl for 2 to 4 hours. Break up curds and add salt.
Step 5: Drain
Line a mold with cheesecloth, place in cheese, fold cheesecloth over. Place a heavy weight on top of mold and leave overnight. Make brine solution by adding 5-½ tablespoons salt to every 20 fluid ounces of whey. Mix to dissolve salt.
Step 6: Brine
Take cheese out of mold and cut into cubes. Place in brine solution and allow to brine for 5 days. Store in refrigerator. Rinse before use to remove excess salt. Check below for a few ideas on what to do with your fabulous feta!
Step 7: Enjoy!
Sawsan loves incorporating feta into all kinds of recipes. Visit the following links to see what meal masterpieces you can make with your homemade cheese.
- Pumpkin Frittata with Feta and Basil
- Grilled Peach Feta Salad with Lavender Dressing
- Tandoori Chicken Salad
- Eggplant Hummus Sandwich
- Roasted Garlic Chicken Pizza with Roasted Peppers and Onions Topped with Feta Cheese
Recipe and Photos by Sawsan Abu Farha
Sawsan recommends using raw, unpasteurized sheep milk with this recipe. Regular pasteurized cow or goat milk is also a good choice.