Homemade Feta Cheese

Homemade Feta Cheese recipe, making feta at home method, cheese making, feta recipe

Homemade Feta Cheese

Making cheese is fun and rewarding! I’m giving you a Homemade Feta Cheese recipe with step-by-step instructions to make your own! With a few ingredients, you can turn a gallon of milk into a pound of feta; with the whey remaining for other uses. 

I’ve been making my own Feta Cheese for years now, and I have been meaning to post the recipe for a long time. Now it’s here.

Technically, true Feta is made with sheep or goat’s milk (or a combination), with cow’s milk producing a “Feta-style” cheese. Since I haven’t yet found a source to purchase goat’s milk, I use whole fat cow’s milk, purchased in the market, and have never had a problem with my cheese turning out.

It’s just so delicious and is so perfect in so darned many recipes. I know this process isn’t for everyone, and I’ve even had friends who have questioned my sanity for making my own feta. Until they have tried it. I’m telling you, it’s so worth it to make your own!

While cheese making does require some special (inexpensive) ingredients, the process isn’t hard at all; the reward of producing your own homemade cheese is well worth the (mostly hands off) effort.

The equipment you will need is:

  • A stainless steel stockpot
  • A digital thermometer
  • A long stainless steel spatula, or curd knife
  • A large stainless steel skimmer, or slotted spoon
  • Cheese cloth or butter muslin
  • A large colander
  • A dowel to suspend the cheese cloth while the whey drains

Special ingredients are (with some links provided at the end of the post):

  • Lipase powder (an enzyme that creates the piquant flavor in Feta)
  • Mesophilic starter (the culture of bacteria used to develop the proper acidity)
  • Rennet (a coagulant containing enzymes that act to separate the curds, the solids, from the whey, the liquids), available in tablet or liquid form
  • Non-iodized salt: kosher (pickling salt or canning salt can also be used)
  • Non-chlorinated water (filtered, bottled or distilled)
  • Whole fat milk

Finally, it’s important to practice good sterilization practices. Sterilize all utensils, pans, colander, cheese cloth prior to use. I fill my stainless steel stockpot with boiling water, submerge my colander, cheese cloth, curd knife, skimmer and thermometer; let them sit for a minute, then remove, drain and dry with a clean cloth.

1: The first step is to combine the milk with lipase powder (that has been dissolved in filtered water). With the digital thermometer set in the milk, heat the milk to 86°F. Since you’re going to need to maintain that 86°F, and not have great fluctuations in temperature, I place my stainless steel stockpot in a roasting pan filled with water to help regulate an even heat. I have had heat variations from 84-90°F, so don’t panic if your temperature varies within that range.

Homemade Feta, feta making recipeOnce the milk has reached 86°F, add the mesophilic starter, stir to combine, cover and let sit for one hour to ripen, maintaining 86°F (or as close to) for the whole hour.

2. After an hour, add the rennet, stirring using an up and down motion for a couple of minutes, cover and allow to sit for another hour. continuing to maintain the 86°F (or as close to) for this entire time.

3. At this point, you will cut the curds. A long, rounded end metal spatula that will reach to the bottom of the pan (or a curd knife) works well. Cut a checkerboard grid pattern in the curds with your knife cutting one half inch apart all the way to the bottom of the pan. In order to get cubes, put your metal spatula at a 45° angle and run in down the same cut lines. This doesn’t have to be exact. Just get as close as you can. Cover and allow to set for about 10 minutes to begin releasing whey.

4. Gently stir the curds, cover for 20 minutes.

5. Gently stir the curds again, cover for 20 minutes.

6. Place the cheese cloth lined colander over another large pan so you can collect the whey (more uses for the whey later). Using the strainer (or slotted spoon) ladle the curds into the cheese cloth lined colander. Pour the remaining whey over the curds to capture any small curds you didn’t scoop out.

Homemade Feta recipe

7. Tie the corners of the cheese cloth, run a dowel below the knots and suspend the cheese cloth over a deep pan to catch the whey that continues to drain. The whey you collected when ladling the curds can be poured into a sterilized jar, covered and refrigerated for use later (I’ll be publishing a bread recipe soon that used the whey). Allow the cheese to hang and drain for 4 hours.

Homemade Feta recipe

8. Take the cheese cloth bundle off of the dowel, place on a sterilized board and press the cheese cloth-covered curds into a square shape (you don’t have to be exact). Replace the dowel back through the bundle and hang back over the pot for another 12 hours.

9. Untie the cheese cloth bundle, remove the curd block and slice in 1″ thick slices. Sprinkle the slices with kosher salt (no iodized salt).

Homemade Feta recipeHomemade Feta recipe

10. Place the salted slices into an airtight container, cover and allow to age outside the refrigerator for 2 days.

11. After the slices have aged for 2 days, prepare a brine by bringing 6 cups filtered water and 1/4 cup kosher (no iodized salt) to a boil and allow to cool completely.

12. Place the aged slices, along with the whey they have released after they were salted, into a sterilized glass jar. Pour the cooled brine over the top, cover and store in the refrigerator. When retrieving pieces of feta from the brine for use, be sure to use a sterilized utensil so you don’t contaminate the brine. Stores for up to a year.

Stay tuned for a fabulous bread recipe to make using the whey obtained from this recipe.

P~

Homemade Feta Cheese
 
Homemade Feta cheese is so worth the effort and it's perfect in so many recipes, or to add to a cheese board.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 gallon pasteurized whole milk (pasteurized will work, not ultra pasteurized)
  • ¼ teaspoon lipase powder diluted in ¼ cup filtered water, allow to sit for 20 minutes
  • 1 packet direct set mesophilic starter
  • ½ teaspoon liquid rennet (or ¾ rennet tablet dissolved) in ¼ cup filtered water
  • kosher salt (you can use pickling or canning salt, but no iodized salt of any kind)
  • 6 cups water (for brine)
Instructions
  1. The first step is to combine the milk with lipase powder (that has been dissolved in filtered water). With the digital thermometer set in the milk, heat the milk to 86°F. Since you're going to need to maintain that 86°F, and not have great fluctuations in temperature, I place my stainless steel stockpot in a roasting pan filled with water to help regulate an even heat. I have had heat variations from 84-90°F, so don't panic if your temperature varies within that range. Once the milk has reached 86°F, add the mesophilic starter, stir to combine, cover and let sit for one hour to ripen, maintaining 86°F (or as close to) for the whole hour.
  2. After an hour, add the rennet, stirring using an up and down motion for a couple of minutes, cover and allow to sit for another hour. continuing to maintain the 86°F (or as close to) for this entire time.
  3. At this point, you will cut the curds. A long, rounded end metal spatula that will reach to the bottom of the pan (or a curd knife) works well. Cut a checkerboard grid pattern in the curds with your knife cutting half inch apart all the way to the bottom of the pan. In order to get cubes, put your metal spatula at a 45° angle and run in down the same cut lines. This doesn't have to be exact. Just get as close as you can. Cover and allow to set for about 10 minutes to begin releasing whey.
  4. Gently stir the curds, cover for 20 minutes.
  5. Gently stir the curds again, cover for 20 minutes.
  6. Place the cheese cloth lined colander over another large pan so you can collect the whey (more uses for the whey later). Using the strainer (or slotted spoon) ladle the curds into the cheese cloth lined colander. Pour the remaining whey over the curds to capture any small curds you didn't scoop out.
  7. Tie the corners of the cheese cloth, run a dowel below the knots and suspend the cheese cloth over a deep pan to catch the whey that continues to drain. The whey you collected when ladling the curds can be poured into a sterilized jar, covered and refrigerated for use later (I'll be publishing a bread recipe soon that used the whey). Allow the cheese to hang and drain for 4 hours.
  8. Take the cheese cloth bundle off of the dowel, place on a sterilized board and press the cheese cloth covered curds into a square shape (you don't have to be exact). Replace the dowel back through the bundle and hang back over the pot for another 12 hours.
  9. Untie the cheese cloth bundle, remove the curd block and slice in 1" thick slices. Sprinkle the slices with kosher salt (no iodized salt).
  10. Place the salted slices into an airtight container, cover and allow to age outside the refrigerator for 2 days.
  11. After the slices have aged for 2 days, prepare a brine by bringing 6 cups filtered water and ¼ cup kosher (no iodized salt) to a boil and allow to cool completely.
  12. Place the aged slices, along with the whey they have released after they were salted, into a sterilized glass jar. Pour the cooled brine over the top, cover and store in the refrigerator. When retrieving pieces of feta from the brine for use, be sure to use a sterilized utensil so you don't contaminate the brine. Stores for up to a year.
Notes
it's important to practice good sterilization practices. Sterilize all utensils, pans, colander, cheese cloth prior to use. I fill my stainless steel stockpot with boiling water, submerge my colander, cheese cloth, curd knife, skimmer and thermometer; let them sit for a minute, then remove, drain and dry with a clean cloth.

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About P ~ The Saucy Southerner

I started cooking when I was ten years old. For me, the process of cooking, from inception of a dish, to the execution, to the washing of the pots is sheer delight. I am now retired from a business I still own, in partnership with my husband. I used to work six days a week and still cook every night. Now, I'm gardening, still cooking, always having fun and hoping to share my joy with you. Thank you for reading...and commenting! P~
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