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My favorite salad in the whole world is the Greek salad from Panera. When I decided to stop eating out so much, I really, really, missed my weekly Greek salad fix. So I decided that the thing to so was to figure out how to make it at home. Cuz that’s how I roll.
The first step for me was the cheese. I was already making most of my own cheeses, so why not make Feta as well? As it turns out, Feta is one of the easiest cheeses to make at home. It takes a little bit of time to age, as most cheeses do, but it’s so worth the wait! Traditionally, Feta is made with sheep’s milk or a mixture of sheep and goat milk. But never fear! It turns out amazing with regular ole cow’s milk, too!
The original recipe I started with is from Cultures for Health. They have an amazing eBook on cheese making that you can get free. I use a slightly different method to age my Feta than they do. It works better for me and yields the same results.
I just love that cheese making, along with so many other things with Traditional Foods, is so flexible and can accommodate different lifestyles. 🙂
Because a little bit of Feta goes a long way, I only use one gallon of milk instead of the two that I normally use for cheese. One pound(ish) of Feta will last me quite a while. This cheese freezes beautifully, but can also be kept in brine in the fridge or in olive oil on the counter or in a cold room.
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- 1 gallon milk, not ultrapasturized
- 1 packet of Feta culture (I get mine here)
- 1/2 tsp liquid rennet (if using double strength, use 1/2 the amount)
- 1/4 cup cool, filtered water
- 1/3 cup sea salt dissolved in 1/2 gallon water OR
- 1/2 gallon extra virgin olive oil
- Non-reactive pot
- Butter muslin, tea towel, or pillow case weight fabric
Start by heating the milk to 86° F. Add the milk culture and let hydrate for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the culture well with an up and down motion. Let the milk sit for an hour to culture. I usually remove the pan from the heat, put on the lid, and cover with a beach towel to retain the heat.
After an hour, dilute the rennet in 1/4 cup cool filtered water. Mix the rennet into the milk with an up and down motion. Do not over mix.
Now, put the lid back on the pot and let it sit undisturbed over night. I put the towel back around it if it’s cool in the house.
The next morning, the milk should be thick and there should be a layer of whey (clearish liquid) on the top.
Now it’s time to cut the curds. Using a long knife, make cuts about 1/2 inch apart all the way to the bottom. Now turn the pot and make another set of cuts parallel to the first. Now with your knife at a 45 degree angle, cut the curds again. Turn the pot 90 degrees and cut at an angle again. Do that until you have made angled cuts in all 4 directions.
Over the next 20 minutes stir the curds gently, cutting any you missed with the spoon so that they are roughly the same size. The curds will shrink a little as they release more whey.
Put the butter muslin in a colander in the sink. Pour in the curds and let the whey drain out.
After it has drained for about 20 minutes, tie the corners of the cloth together and hang the cheese over a bowl for 24 hours.
You can turn the cheese in the cloth to make a smoother top if you want to.
Feta can be eaten fresh but it has a more pronounced taste after brining. I put the cheese in a brining mold, but you can just place it in a jar with a brine solution of 1/3 cup sea salt in 1/2 gallon of water.
I brine mine for about 30 days and then I slice it and let it sit covered at room temperature to dry for 2 or 3 days to make sure all the whey has been released. It will release some whey into the brine and that will turn the brine a little yellowish. Then I cut the slices in smaller pieces and store in fresh brine or in extra virgin olive oil.
Use this crumbled on salads, egg dishes, or my Brown Rice Pilaf with Preserved Lemons.
More homemade cheese & cultured dairy for you to try: