Feta is traditionally made in Greece from ewe’s milk, but a good facsimile can be made with cow’s milk, etc. It is a fresh, snow-white cheese which is pickled in brine and therefore is a salty cheese. It is fabulous with Kalamata olives and pita bread, as well as in a Greek salad.
1) 5-quart stainless steel pot with lid sterilized by placing a small amount of water in it, covering, and boiling for 5 minutes
2) Thermometer – should read in the range of 32° to 220° F (0° to 110° C)
3) Long-bladed knife to cut the curd
4) Quart strainer to support the draining cloth (handkerchief)
5) 2 sterile handkerchiefs (draining cloth), sterilized by boiling and hanging to dry
6) Receiving container to catch draining whey – a one gallon bowl or clean plastic bucket will do.
7) Cheese mold and weight – cut the ends out of a smooth-sided 4 x 5 inch tin can, save one of the cut ends for the press
1 gallon milk – whole milk for a richer flavor or skim milk for low calorie cheese
1 Tblsp fresh active plain yogurt to use as an inoculum (yogurt must contain live and active cultures)
1/2 tablet Junket® Rennet to coagulate the milk
5 Tblsp table salt to prepare the pickling brine
1. Warm the milk in the sterilized pot to 86° F (30° C). Do not let it burn on the bottom. Remove from heat.
2. Mix yogurt with an equal part milk to blend, then stir into the warmed milk to mix thoroughly.
3. Cover and let inoculated milk sit for one hour at room temperature. Meanwhile, dissolve 1/2 Junket® Rennet tablet in 1/4 cup of cool water.
4. After the inoculated milk has set for one hour, stir in the dissolved Rennet to mix well.
5. Cover and let the inoculated, renneted milk sit overnight at room temperature.
6. The next morning, the milk should have gelled to produce a clean break (as in the basic cheese recipe). Some of the whey will have separated. Cut curd as per basic cheese (see recipe). The curds should be about 1/2 inch in diameter.
7. With very clean hand and arm, reach to the bottom of the pot and gently lift the curds to stir. Cut large pieces which appear with a table knife so that they are 1/2 inch pieces. Continue gentle stirring for 10-15 minutes until curd is somewhat contracted.
8. Decant off the whey through the handkerchief supported by the strainer, then pour curds into handkerchief. Let the curds drain until no more whey drains out (about 2-4 hours). The whey may be saved for ricotta (see recipe).
9. Transfer the drained curds into a bowl, break into small pieces and mix in 1/2 tsp salt.
10. Prepare the cheese mold by lining the tin can (with ends cut out) with a handkerchief. Place the curds into mold, fold over ends of the cloth, place one of the cut ends on top, and place a heavy weight on top to press the curds. Let sit overnight to drain.
11. Prepare pickling brine (12.5% salt): 20 oz of water plus 5 Tblsp salt. Stir to dissolve.
12. Remove the cheese from the press and cut into 1.5-inch pieces. Place into a wide-mouth quart jar. Pour brine over to cover. Let pickle for 1-2 days in the refrigerator. The cheese pieces may then be removed from the brine and stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Rinse before use to remove excess salt.
by Dr. David Fankhauser