I made feta the other day. It’s an easier cheese, and it’s satisfying to get something you eat quickly (unlike my cheddar which is still ageing away in the cupboard and looking a bit manky). Feta seems pretty hard to get wrong.
Get 2 litre of goats milk and warm it up to 30C. I used organic pasteurised milk because it was what I had. Raw milk would be better, especially for brining, but I’ll get to that later.
Add in your mesophilic culture (buttermilk or bought starter both work well) and keep the milk still, covered and warm for about an hour. I used a water bath in the kitchen sink – keeping the water outside 5-10C above the needed milk temperature. After saying to use mesophilic starter, I have to admit that I actually had none this time, so had to use 2 tablespoons of yoghurt instead – it’s not ideal (as it’s generally a thermophilic starter) but still worked fine. After about an hour, put about 10 drops of rennet into an small amount of purified, cold water (I used about 1/8 of a cup) and stir into the milk. Leave for another hour or so at the same temperature, until the curds are coming away from the sides of the pot.
Next, line a colander or something similar with enough cheesecloth that you will be able to tie around the curds into a ball (I did this in two lots rather than a single), gather up the curds and hang to drip for about 12 hours. It also helps if after about 6 hours, you open them up and flip over the ball, so that the draining is more even (this useful tip came from cookblog).
After the dripping is over, unwrap the balls and slice into ½ inch wedges. Place in a dish, salt on both sides and cover. I made two different sorts of fetta at this point.
Some of the salted feta I removed after about 8 hours, cut into 1-2cm cubes and marinated in a mix of olive oil, rosemary and garlic (chilli is also another good edition). With olive oil covering everything in the jar, I kept this in a cool, dark cupboard for a few weeks and then served it on fresh sourdough. It’s soft, smooth and luscious with oil.
The rest of the feta I tried to brine (if you use pasteurised milk like I did – don’t do this – it wasn’t a good move as it nearly fell apart). Instead, I removed it from the brine again and re-dry salted, and let it stay in the fridge for about a week. It turned out a bit too salty, so next time, if I’m using pasteusrised milk I’ll just dry salt from the beginning and let it become good in the fridge.
It looks incredibly yummy!
I love that your dripping cheesecloth photo is almost exactly like one I put up a while ago, complete with drip detaching from the bottom. I had to shoot dozens to get that moment; did you have better timing?
I have to confess, that’s my boyfriend’s shot – he took about 10 to get it.