Jeff’s fabulous feta is one of my favourite cheeses. I marvel at the ingenuity that came up with the original recipe – a way of preserving milk in the hot Aegean region.
The secret to good feta is to produce high acidity quickly, use salt to slow the process and store cheese in a quality brine solution.
It was Jeff’s time at Blue River Dairy cheese factory that allowed him to perfect his feta cheese recipe. It is the simplest of cheeses to make …
The critical points are:
- Use the best full cream milk you can find – never homogenised!
- Use the right amount of cheese starter – early acidity is crucial
- Keep cheese warm while it is draining
- Brine must be made to a low pH (approx 4.0) and have some whey solids in it
- Store cheese in brine until it is ready to eat
- 10 litres milk
- Lactic acid producing culture (R704, FRC60 or similar)
- Greek style yoghurt or yoghurt culture
- Cool boiled water
- Non-iodised salt
Here are the steps
- Warm milk to 36*C
- Add 1/2 tsp culture
- Add 2 tablespoons yogurt and stir in well
- Sit for one hour to develop flavour. Keep milk at 36 degrees use a waterbath or wrap in a blanket
- Add 6 mls animal rennet mixed with 50 mls cool boiled water
- Leave until curd is firm (about 30 to 50 mins)
- Cut into 1 cm cubes
- Pitch for 5 mins (means let stand for 5 mins)
- Over the next 30 minutes stir gently for roughly 2 minutes every 7 minutes. Let rest when not stirring
- Use a sieve to take curds out and put into your mould
- Turn over at least 5 times (each half hour) then leave overnight to drain in a warm room 18 deg C or more
- Don’t forget to save some of the whey for making your brine
Turn feta twice in mould. If it feels firm enough, remove the mould and sprinkle all surfaces with non-iodised salt. Coarse salt is good for this.
Put in a 10% brine solution made using 25 percent saved whey and 75 per cent cool boiled water. Put a splash of white vinegar in to increase the acidity of the brine to be close to that of the cheese. You need to taste the brine it should have a pleasant acidic taste. Weight cheese down with a bottle or pot full of water to keep it under the surface of the brine.
After 48 hours check that the feta isn’t slimy. If it is you need to add more vinegar / lemon juice / lactic acid to increase the acidity. The feta will store in the brine for several months in a cool place.
This cheese gets better with age. We have stored some for over a year and visitors often say it is the best feta they have ever tasted.