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Homemade Feta Cheese | Make Ahead Mondays

What do you get when you combine three gallons of milk, a little know-how and some time? A big batch of homemade feta cheese that tastes incredible and gives you major bragging rights. Don't fear the cheesemaking! Method gently adapted from and with thanks to Fias Co Farm Please visit her site for great feta cheese trouble shooting and other pointers.
Prep Time 1 hour
Servings 32
Calories 392 kcal
Author Rebecca Lindamood

Ingredients

For the Cheese:

  • 3 gallons fresh raw or pasteurized and homogenized goat or cow milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Mesophilic culture see link in post for source
  • 1/4 teaspoon lipase powder if using cow milk Omit for vegetarian cheese. Lipase is animal derived.
  • 1 teaspoon single-strength liquid rennet dissolved in 1/2 cup of cool or 1/2 teaspoon double strength liquid OR 3/4 of a vegetarian rennet tablet crushed, UNCHLORINATED water.
  • kosher salt no substitute

For the Brine:

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt no substitute
  • 1 gallon cool UNCHLORINATED water

Instructions

To Make the Cheese:

  1. Sterilize all of your equipment with boiling water before beginning (including the cheesecloth.)
  2. In a very large, non-reactive pot, bring all of the milk up to 86°F.-88°F. Add the mesophilic culture and the lipase powder, if you are using it. Stir well with an up and down motion, cover the pot and let rest for one hour. Try to maintain the 86°F temperature. If you have trouble with that, you can set your large pot inside a larger pot with an inch of hot water in the bottom of it. This should help regulate the temperature more gently than firing up a burner directly beneath the milk. The goal is to avoid rapid temperature changes.*See notes.
  3. After 1 hour, add the dissolved rennet to the milk and stir vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Remove the spoon from the pot, cover it, and let it stand undisturbed for 30-40 minutes or until the curd 'breaks' cleanly when you insert the tip of a knife and lift as shown below.
    [img src="https://www.foodiewithfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/homemade-feta3.jpg"]
  4. Cut a 1/2-inch grid pattern into the curd. Don't get perfectionist here, you'll get frustrated. The curd likes to move while you try to cut it, so just do your best.
    [img src="https://www.foodiewithfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/homemade-feta.jpg"]
  5. After you have the grid pattern, hold the knife at a 45° angle and retrace the cuts you've already made. This is going to make MOST of the curd in the pot into roughly 1/2-inch pieces.
    [img src="https://www.foodiewithfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/feta-in-brine.jpg"]
  6. The ones that didn't get cut that small will break up later in the process. DO NOT STIR THE CURD YET.
  7. Let the curd rest undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  8. After 10 minutes, stir gently, breaking up any larger pieces you missed with the knife. Again, don't sweat this too much... Just try to have most pieces in the neighborhood of 1/2 an inch.
  9. Keep the curd at 86°F to 88°F for 45 minutes, stirring from time to time to keep the curd from sticking to itself. You'll notice the curd getting slightly firmer and smaller. This is because as you stir it and hold it at this temperature it releases more whey.
    [img src="https://www.foodiewithfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/homemade-feta-1.jpg"]
  10. Dampen your butter muslin/cheesecloth and use it to line a large colander. I usually position the colander over another large stockpot because I like to save the whey for baking.
    [img src="https://www.foodiewithfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/homemade-feta-2.jpg"]
  11. Carefully and gently ladle the curds and whey into the lined colander.
    [img src="https://www.foodiewithfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/homemade-feta-4.jpg"]
  12. When all the curds are in the colander, draw all 4 corners of the cheesecloth together to form a bag and tie in a sturdy knot. Hang the bag over the sink or a bowl or pot so it can drain freely.
    [img src="https://www.foodiewithfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/homemade-feta-5.jpg"]
  13. Let the cheese drain at room temperature for 3-4 hours, carefully lower the bag into the colander and untie the bag. At this point, the cheese will be smooth on the bottom and spiky on top.
    [img src="https://www.foodiewithfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/homemade-feta-6.jpg"]
  14. Flip the curd over so the spikes are at the bottom, retie and rehang the bag. Let it drain for 24 hours.

Here is where you're going to notice a certain stank coming from the vicinity of your cheese. That's okay. It means you're on the right track. Don't back down!

  1. After 24 hours, lower the cheese, untie the bag and put the curd onto a sterilized cutting board. Cut it into blocks. I usually aim for pieces that are about the size of a deck of cards but about 2 inches thick.
    [img src="https://www.foodiewithfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/homemade-feta-9.jpg"]
  2. Generously sprinkle all of the surfaces of the cut cheese with kosher salt then load the cheese into a sterilized, large, food-safe container with a tightly fitting lid.
    [img src="https://www.foodiewithfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/homemade-feta-10.jpg"]
  3. Let the cheese rest at room temperature (DO NOT REFRIGERATE even though it is counterintuitive.) for 2 to 3 days so that it can continue releasing whey and hardening up. This will help it store longer.

To Prepare the Brine and Store the Cheese:

  1. Pour the whey the cheese has released into a sterilized large, food-safe container with a tightly fitting lid. Arrange the cheese blocks in it.
  2. Add the gallon of water and 1/2 cup of kosher salt to a non-reactive pot. Stir well over medium heat until the salt is completely dissolved. Let the brine come to room temperature before pouring it over the cheese. Put the lid in place tightly on the container and store the cheese in the refrigerator.
  3. Let the cheese age at least two weeks before eating. It is good for up to a year as long as it is kept submerged in the brine and refrigerated. It will continue to get stronger in taste as it ages.

Recipe Notes

*If your room temperature is too cool and you are having trouble maintaining the temperature of the milk, you can either set the pot inside a larger pot with an inch or two of hot water in the bottom. When the temperature of the milk starts dropping, you can turn the burner on under the larger pot and the hot water will help gently raise the temperature of the milk in the inside pot. The goal is to avoid rapid temperature changes with can affect the culture at work in the milk as well as risk scorching. Scorched cheese is blechy.

Another option -and my preferred one- is to set the pot on top of a warm but not hot heating pad. This is my go-to procedure during cooler months when I have to wear a sweat-a to make feta.

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Feta Cheese | Make Ahead Mondays
Amount Per Serving
Calories 392 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 10g50%
Cholesterol 54mg18%
Sodium 2006mg84%
Potassium 596mg17%
Carbohydrates 46g15%
Sugar 36g40%
Protein 14g28%
Vitamin A 780IU16%
Calcium 530mg53%
Iron 0.2mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.