As you can see from the picture, while my feta cheese set up into curds, they are still not as dry as store-bought feta cheese. I have made it twice. The first time draining the curds using cheesecloth and the second time I used a coffee filter, which worked better. I think when I do it again, I will use a tea towel or piece of cotton to see if I can get more whey to drain out, which is the key to, I have now learned, to making drier curds.
2 litres whole cow or goat milk
½ tsp vegetable rennet**
1 package mesophilic culture* or 1 tbsp yogurt or kefir
1/8 tsp calcium chloride (optional)**
2 tbsp sea salt or Himalayan sea salt
1 litre spring water
Heat the milk in a stainless steel pot to 86 degrees F. Dilute the calcium chloride (if using) in 1/4 cup spring water and add to the milk as it is heating up. Remove from the heat once it reaches temperature and transfer to a glass bowl. It does not have to be exactly 86 degrees F – it is not that sensitive. Add the mesophilic culture, yogurt or kefir and stir thoroughly. Let the milk to sit for 1 hour.
Dissolve the rennet in 1/4 cup water. Lightly pour the rennet/water over the surface of the milk. Do not stir in a circlular motion. Instead, mix the rennet inserting a rubber spatula or spoon in an up and down motion all over the surface of the milk (like you are stabbing it). Be sure to go right to the bottom of bowl. Do not over mix.
Place a lid on the bowl and let sit overnight. The next day, check to see if the milk has gelled and there is a clean break in the curd. You can check this by touching the surface of gelled milk mixture with a clean finger to break the surface. If the liquid that fills the space you have created is clear like whey then it is ready. If it is still milky, then it is not. It will separate or contract a bit from the edge of the bowl.
Use a knife to cut lines through the curd about a half inch apart. Be sure to go all the way to the bottom. Then cut lines across the first set of lines, again about a half inch apart.
Gently stir the curd to help them contract further. You can take 20 minutes to do this. Gently stirring and then leaving it alone and then come back and gently stir it again.
Place butter muslin, or a tea towel in a colander or a coffee filter in a sieve and place over a bowl. Scoop the curds and place in the sieve or colander and let them drain. Save the whey that drains into the bowl as this can be used to make ricotta cheese
If using a tea towel or butter muslin, the cloth can be tied and hung over a sink or bowl or a bowl (if saving the whey) and drain for another four hours until no more whey drips out.
Once all the whey has been drained out, make the brine. Fill part of a jar with brine and place the curds in the brine. Leave for 4-5 days (30 days, if using raw milk). Then drain off the brine and store in the refrigerator.
**What is the purpose of calcium chloride? Milk loses calcium when it is pasteurized and homogenized so the calcium chloride helps restore the calcium levels which are helpful for making the curds.
**What is the purpose of rennet? It is a complex of enzymes that coagulates the milk to create the curds. Enzymes in rennin include chymosin, protease, lipase and pepsin. Different cheeses use different amounts depending on how hard the cheese is supposed to be. Animal rennet is the traditional form, made for the lining of a calf’s stomach. Vegetable rennet is made from a specific type of mold and contains the same types of enzymes.
Liquid calcium chloride and liquid rennet work best and can be easily purchased from Amazon. You can form Amazon as well also buy Mesophilic culture.
Check out the online webinar: Cheese Making and Kombucha which includes a demo for feta cheese.