I make feta to go with my tomatoes from the garden. So how do you make feta? First you need to get some milk! I went to our farmers market on Saturday and got an 1/2 gallon of goat milk from South Mountain Dairy, a local dairy farm. I wanted to make goat feta. (Actually I would love to make sheep feta but I don’t know of any sheep farmers in this area-this is Baaad!). Sheep or goat’s milk is used in traditional feta although cow’s milk is used now too. Sheep’s milk has the highest fat content, then goat’s milk and last cow’s milk. If you haven’t had sheep feta or any cheese made with sheep’s milk, do try some. It will be the smoothest, creamiest, most flavorful cheese you will ever taste.
Meanwhile here’s how to make goat feta. It was easy but it does take some time! It’s a perfect thing to do on a Sunday afternoon. I got the recipe from two books I have, ‘Home Cheesemaking’ by Ricki Carroll and the same recipe is in ‘Making Artisan Cheese’ by Tim Smith. There is also a great feta cheese recipe at Fias Co Farm online. This recipe is for a GALLON of milk. Here’s how I did it (remember I used a 1/2 gallon of milk):
FETA CHEESE FOR ONE GALLON OF MILK (cut it in half for a half gallon of milk)-you can use goat or cow milk
1 gallon whole goat or cow milk
1/4 teaspoon lipase powder (diluted in 1/4 cup water and allowed to sit for 20 minutes) lipase is optional but adds more flavor
1 packet direct-set mesophilic starter
1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet (or 1/2 tablet rennet tablet diluted in 1/4 cup cool unchlorinated water )
2-4 teaspoon cheese salt (or non idonized salt)
1/3 cup water, for brine (optional)
1/8 teaspoon calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup water (optional-use if curds aren’t setting firmly for next time)
1. Put your milk in a pan and stir diluted lipase in it. Heat the milk to 86°F (It doesn’t take but a couple of minutes). Use a thermometer for cooking. Add the starter (1 packet of mesophilic starter) in it and stir. Cover it and keep it at 86° for one hour for the milk to ripen.
2. Put 1/8 teaspoon of rennet in about 1/8 of a cup of water. Put the diluted rennet into the milk, stirring for several minutes. cover and let set at 86°F for one hour.
3. After the one hour, it should be set firm. Cut the curd into 1/2 inch squares while in pan. Cut across from the first cuts to make squares. Let sit 20 minutes. More whey liquid will be released.
4. Keep at 86°F and gently stir the curds for 20 minutes. This releases more whey and firms up the curds.
5. Pour the curds into a colander lined with butter muslin (you can get it here) which is finer than regular muslin.
6. Tie the corners diagonally into a knot and hang the bag over the sink to drain for 4 hours. (undo the knot after 2 hours and turn over in the cloth and retie and hang for another 2 hours)
7. Untie the bag and remove muslin.
8. Cut the curds into 1 inch slices.
9. Sprinkle with kosher salt and put in a airtight container and age for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. More whey will be released and the slices will get firmer (so you can crumble it later).
7. Put it in a airtight container and put in refrigerator for 4-5 days. Store in the refrigerator. Rinse before use to remove excess salt.
For a stronger flavor, make a brine solution by combining 1/3 cup salt and 1/2 gal of water. Place rinsed cheese in the brine and store in refrigerator for 30 days. (Use the brine solution for farm bought milk only, store bought tends to disintegrate in brine).
Afterwards, I took the remaining whey and made ricotta from it. I took the whey and put it in a pot and reheated it to just below boiling so it released more protein. You can see the little particles separate from the liquid. I took that mixture and strained it in another muslin lined colander and let it drip for 15 minutes. Then I put it in a container and put it into the refrigerator. That’s it. You really don’t get much ricotta but you’re not wasting the whey either. The rest of the whey I will give to the chickens and later to some plants. Two cheeses in one day!