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Monday, July 12, 2010


Whew!  It seems like quite a while since I've talked about making homemade cheese.  How did that happen?  I got caught up in other things and let it fall by the wayside...what a bad cheeseslut I've been.  No fear, I am about to remedy that situation.  Last month at Forging Fromage, I issued a challenge for homemade Goat's Milk Feta...and then proceeded to meet my own challenge in an EXTREMELY tardy fashion.  Sheesh...I'll catch up with myself sooner or later.  That said, I also ended up making it with cow milk, because goat milk around here would have cost me my first born...and I'm not prepared to give LT up.  Ever.  Soooooo, when I finally did get around to making Feta, I had to get a little creative...which actually seems to be a theme when we get down to cheesemaking.  Don't have cheese molds....use a colander!  Don't have cheese weights...use barbell weights wrapped in foil!  Don't have a place to hang  your cheese...remove the drawers and shelving from the bottom of your extra fridge and get creative!  Hey...whatever works!  I started out using a recipe from The Home Creamery, but ended up adapting it slightly since my original cheesing partner, Natashya, made hers first and worked out the kinks for me.  What are friends for, right!?  Okay, give yourself a couple of days before you need to use the Feta when you start making it.  It requires a 24 hour salting & rest period...which is pretty essential to gain that signature Feta tang and texture.

Feta Cheese
adapted from The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley
yield: ~1 lb.

1 gallon milk
1/4 c. cultured buttermilk
1/4 tsp. liquid rennet
1/4 c. cool water (55-60 degrees F)
1/4 tsp. calcium chloride
coarse salt

1.  Warm the milk to 88 degrees F over a low flame in a large, heavy-bottomed pot.  Stir in buttermilk.  Cover and turn off heat.  Let stand 1 hour.

2.  Dissolve the rennet in the cool water and add mixture to the milk, along with the calcium chloride, stirring for 30 seconds.  Mixture should still be at 88 degrees F.  Cover again and let stand another hour to coagulate.

3.  Using a long, thin knife, cut the curds into 1" cubes.  Gently stir them a few times. The temp should still be at 88 degrees F.

4.  Carefully pour the curds into a colander, lined with butter muslin (re-useable cheesecloth).  Tie together the ends of the muslin to make a bag and hang in a cool room or refrigerator to drain for 4 to 6 hours.  This is where I had to get creative.  Fortunately we have an extra refrigerator in the garage.  I took out the bottom couple of rows of shelves and drawers...then slid in a couple of garden stakes over the top bars and tied the butter muslin to the stakes.  I set a large bowl underneath and viola! It worked perfectly...and I'll be using this method from now on!

5.  Remove the cheese from the muslin at this point it is pretty large and looks like a typical fresh cheese...tasty.  But, it's important to have self-control and NOT just use it at this point.  Sure, it'll taste good, but it won't taste like Feta! ...

...slice the cheese ball in half.  Lay the halves in a dish that can be covered.  Sprinkle all  the surfaces with coarse salt, cover, and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.  Yes, room temperature.  Let that beneficial bacteria do its work!  Take a look at this before and after picture...important step, wouldn't ya say?

After 24 hours, your cheese halves will be sitting in quite a bit of liquid.  Drain off this liquid and salt the surface one more time.  Let sit at room temperature for another 2 hours. 

6.  Now, you've got Feta!  At this point, use it right away or cover it in salted water and refrigerate it for up to 4 weeks.

We are currently  in the process of forging 3 different types of cheese over at Forging Fromage. An extremely easy cheese that ANYBODY can make: Yogurt Cheese.  And a couple that are at more of an intermediate level...not fresh cheeses, but why not give them a go: Gouda and Cheddar.  We'd love to have you forge with us!

This post is linked to:
forgingfromage #cheeseslut SimpleLivesThursday
Homemade Feta Cheese on Foodista

Would you like to comment?

  1. Oh man heather! did I tell you I am greek? Making my own feta will make my father crazy with love! :) gonna have to so try this! Thanks for joining the two for tuesday recipe blog hop! Keep it real! Alex

  2. Heather you are so funny!
    I love how you say "cheeseslut" at the beginning haha!

    I made feta a few months turned out okay..but it kinda tasted rubbery...I'll have to try your method out! I love me some cheese!

  3. I feel like you wrote this post just for me! I am SUCH a cheese slut. This would go great in Jamie Oliver's summer chickpea salad... Thank you!

  4. Wow, this is super impressive! Hats off to you.

  5. Your feta is just gorgeous--very impressive as usual!

  6. Wow, good for your Heather. Goat's milk is quite inexpensive here so day......

  7. Your feta looks absolutely perfect! I am constantly impressed by your cheese-making abilities.

  8. That looks beautiful Heather. I so wish I had the time to give cheese making a of these days.

  9. Well done!! Where did you find liquid rennet, Heather? And is your rennet Microbial Rennet or are you using animal rennet? (We have only been able to find rennet tablets.)

    A couple of months ago, we tried to make mozzarella. It was a miserable failure as mozzarella but happily, we ended up with really fabulous ricotta-like cheese that was excellent in stuffed pasta. (I MUST go into my photo folder and post about that adventure!) We also made some very passable cheese curds.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing your other cheese making ventures. This will jump-start us into trying again.


  10. Brilliant! I've never ventured into cheese making. It's a very enticing project!

  11. Looks awesome! I'm wondering if it turned out creamier than the feta you get at the grocery store? It looks like it--more like the feta I ate in Greece.

  12. I get my fresh made feta from this market where I gas up my car. It's so good, and a little creamier than the store bought stuff. I am spoiled by her's. She also sells spinach pies and gyros.
    Heather have you made paneer yet? I really want to try and make that. I can't find it anywhere around here.

  13. I bet that tasted divine! Love feta cheese. Love it!

    You go're so daring in the kitchen.

  14. Lyndsey... check here for paneer

    KitchWitch... Yes, it is definitely creamier than the grocery store variety. It still has that signature salty-tang, but it's not so dry!

    Elizabeth...I hope you do start making cheese again!! I use a vegetarian rennet. Check my sidebar either here or at Forging Fromage for links to buy in both US & Canada (my cheesing buddy Natashya is in Canada).

    ...oh, and THANKS all! =)

  15. I think this weekend I will make ricotta, wish I had time, and someone to help me eat other cheese- love this, wish I could reach in and pinch off a hunk, lol!

  16. This is way beyond my abilities - I am going to have to start with one of your easier cheeses (I love your other blog btw) and then some day I will advance to this heavenly feta.

  17. I really need to join this forging fromage. I really am interested in the homemade gouda! It's one of our favorites :D Beautiful Heather!

  18. I've never made cheese before. That could be a whole new world.

  19. Like Lyndsey, I was thinking about paneer. But I was wondering if I could use this feta recipe in place of paneer? Is one or the other easier to make?

  20. Butter...I think they're pretty equal. Paneer is pressed while Feta is hung...whichever method works out best for what you have, I suppose. Here's the link to the actual Paneer recipes we used at FF (I accidentally used round-up link before).

  21. Nice!!! You're sure becoming the master to cheese making. Nicely done!!!

  22. Fabulous feta!! One of my favorite cheeses. One of these days I'm going to get motivated and try my hand at cheesemaking...I can only imagine how delicious fresh made is - and isn't everything better when you've crafted it with your own two hands?!

  23. Ooh can't wait to try this!! Thanks for posting all the cheeses - I just discovered your site a few weeks ago and am hoping to get into cheesemaking this fall!! Have you had any success with making raw milk yogurt and getting it to thicken up - just curious!!

  24. Hey Lydia!! Personally, I have not. I'm so in love with cheese that I've never "spared" any to make yogurt...BUT, I asked an expert for old friend who has a farm that houses an organic, grass-fed dairy herd locally where us folks can potentially be shareholders and enjoy raw milk. She had this to say... "Nope, raw milk yogurt doesn't work, or at least I don't like it. My recipe for Bulgarian yogurt calls for heating the milk to 180º and holding it there for five minutes, by which time it is no longer raw. If you don't kill off all of the bacteria, good bad or indifferent, from the milk before you inject it with the yogurt culture, you are going to have a mishmash of bacteria, not just the one you want.

    So anyway, heat to 180, hold for 5 minutes, then cool to 110º, stir in room temperature yogurt (about a tablespoon per quart of heated and cooled milk) and then proceed with whatever method you use to incubate it."

    I hope that helps!! And thanks so much for visiting...I can't wait to see your cheesemaking endeavors!! =)

  25. I can totally appreciate how you get sidetracked making so many other delicious things. If only there were time to do it all! I'm really impressed with the feta. Such a wonderfully salty cheese and so many good uses.....

  26. OH MY GAWWWWD!!! HEATHER!!! You're so super super super super amazing!!! OMG!!! To make your own feta're just...whoa, I'm just in AWE! I wish I could buy a bucket from you!

  27. You are so impressive! Maybe once I manage my bread making "skills" I will give cheese making a try. Looks great, looks fun!

  28. Awesome recipe and cheese. Out of curiosity, where did you buy your rennet? I have made some fresh buttermilk cheeses but never with bacteria or cultures.

  29. great cheese skills totally cool and I bet even more satisfying...two for tuesday is getting bigger and bigger...great job


  30. Cocina Savant...I usually get my rennet from The Cheesemaker (.com). There are more options to click through to find cheesemaking supply houses over at my ForgingFromage ( site, too...if you like options, LOL!! Join us =)

    SweetLife..isn't if awesome!? =)

  31. I confess I am a total rat ... uhhmake that mouse ... when it comes to cheese.I am lusting after your photos. One day ... when there's time in the day.... I have been dreaming of making goat cheee. Literally. Sigh - so beautiful. So much lovely Heather cheese. So little time.

  32. Wow!! Thanks GC for looking into that for me, and it was just as I suspected - raw milk yogurt just doesn't work - bummer!! But hey perhaps we should just eat more cheese!! Thanks again - can't wait to make my first chevre soon, and then onto some feta!! Peace!!

  33. Thanks for submitting this lovely lady!! Mwah!

  34. Oolala! I am sooo looking forward to making my own cheese. I just got my kid in today! Your feta looks scrumptious!

  35. This looks sooooo delicious! I can't wait to try it, but I'm a little uncertain about part of the directions.

    A couple of times you mention that the mixture should still be at 88 degrees even though it has been off the heat for over an hour. Does it really retain the heat for that long, or do I heat it back up to that temperature after the resting period?


  36. Anon...thanks so much & sorry for the confusion, I should have explained that part more clearly. YES, believe it or not, it actually remained at 88 degrees even after sitting. Perhaps because I was using a heavy pot? I left it over the burner, just turned off...and covered. I checked temps with one of those probes with a wire...the kind you can program to beep when it reaches the right temperature. The original directions kept stating to turn off heat and return to 88, but since mine never needed reheating, that is why I left it out of my instructions. I would say, double check your temps after each sitting time. If it has dropped from that point, then gently re-heat until it's back...but it shouldn't take long at all as long as you leave it covered and undisturbed.

    Thanks for asking and I hope you give it a really was fairly simple!! Feel free to ask if you have any more ??'s and I'll do my best to answer. Also, if you follow my link over to Forging Fromage, you'll see many other ??'s and answers in the comment section under each "assigned" cheese post!! =)

  37. Oh WOW Heather, This looks fantastic! I absolutely love feta. I could sit and eat a whole block of it alone or with some purple grapes. I love the contrast of sweet and salty. I may have to order the ingredients I need from online but I think it would be worth it to make my own feta. I'm still trying to master bread. Cheese is next! Great job. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

  38. You know what, Ree? I have to order mine online too, as I cannot find rennet or citric acid or calcium chloride locally...BUT it's totally worth it! I can just imagine lounging around...eating homemade feta and purple grapes whilst being fanned by some beautiful men ;) LOL!! Let me know when you get around to cheesing!

  39. Cheseslut. ha ha!

    I'm always so impressed when I see you've made this. This time is no exception. wow!

  40. Heather, I'm so excited! I'm going to order the things I need to make this lovely feta, but first I had a few questions because I'm a little confused?

    Are calcium chloride and citric acid different?

    Could I make feta feta with either of these things, one or the other?

    Could I use homemade buttermilk or should I buy it?

    I saw one recipe called for rennet and a tablespoon of plain yogurt in place of calcium chloride and citric acid, have you made it this way before? Should the yogurt be whole milk plain yogurt or is 2% okay?

    Okay, those are my questions. I'm going to buy the cheesecloth tomorrow and order the other things from online as soon as I some help and guidance from you.

    I appreciate you so much for inspiring me. I'm just really excited, I can't express that enough. Thank you for your help. =)

  41. Hey Ree!! Yay! I'm so excited that you're exicted =) Okay, I'll do my best to help you here....

    Calcium chloride and citric acid ARE different. CC is a liquid, CA is a powder (though they may come in diff. forms, that's just what I know). If you click 'The Cheesemaker' picture on the bottom of my sidebar, you'll be able to see where I ordered it from...and the differences & explanations.

    I'm sure there are infinite recipes out there...but this is the only one I've actually tried and can attest for, so I'd use the CC.

    Homemade as in mixing milk w/ acid? I'd venture to say yes to that one. Homemade as in the watery milk left from making butter ("real" buttermilk), no. It needs to be the thicker, cultured type.

    I have not made it that way before, but I'd check to see if that recipe received any feedback. 2% should work...whole brings a creamier, fattier cheese. YUM!

    I recommend buying the re-useable cheesecloth (butter muslin). The regular type has larger holes and makes it hard for draining. I hear that jelly bags also work.

    I hope this helps!!! If you blog it, I hope you'll link up to ForgingFromage. Although we set new challenges all the time, we encourage people to link up cheeses from past challenges, as well. There's a monthly link set up over there to add any cheese you've forged that'll be included in the monthly round-up. Feel free to email anytime, too... girlichef at yahoo dot com

    =) Heather

  42. WOW! So interesting and I LOVE Feta cheese!! Thanks for linking it in our Star Recipes Collection.

  43. I order my calcium chloride from the cheesemaker out of Wisconsin (

  44. I would like to make this but have not heard of some of those ingredients. How easy are they to find? Would they be at a specialty store or the grocery store?

  45. Feta is one of the best cheeses! Great on any salad.