HOME-MADE FETA CHEESE
- 2-3 liters fresh goats' milk (see Note)
- 1/2 to 1 tbsp. Pitia (see Note)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 to 1 tbsp. salt
- Brine / almi
- coarse salt (fine will work too)
- 1 raw egg, washed thoroughly
- Extra Supplies:
- cheese cloth or fine tulle/netting
- fine weaved basket or strainer
- clean and sterilized wide mouth jar or container
- a dish that will fit inside the jar
- a heavy rock that will fit into the jar
Begin by making sure that all your utensils, pots and supplies are very clean.
Put the milk into a pot over medium heat.
Heat it to a low boil, but keep careful that it doesn't scorch.
Cook it for about 5 minutes then set it aside to cool down until 'warm to the touch'.
Dilute the Pitia in the water and stir it into the warm milk.
Stir in the salt and cover the pot with a clean, cloth towel and set it aside to thicken and curdle in a warm place. This can take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours.
Pour the thickened milk into a basket or strainer that has been lined with cheese cloth or fine tulle/netting.
Cover the basket with another piece of net to keep the insects off and hang it over a sink, or outside so it can drain thoroughly.
Check on the draining cheese.
If it seems that the chunks of curd are too big, you can slice through them with a knife to break them up so more of the water will drain out. It takes about a full day for the cheese to drain to 'Feta' consistency, but if you prefer a harder, dryer cheese, you can let it drain longer.
You can also weight down the draining cheese with a dish and a heavy rock placed over it to aid in squeezing out more water and will also give you a thicker cheese.
Make the Brine: You will need enough brine to cover the cheese completely so put an adequate amount of water into a pot and bring it to a boil.
Boil it for 5 minutes, then remove it from the heat.
Add some salt to the water.
You will be using the egg as a gauge for the salinity of your brine.
Float the egg in the brine.
Some of the shell should float above water level, if not, remove the egg and add more salt to the brine.
Put the egg back in to test it again.
You want 1-2cm of shell to be exposed at the water level.
The more shell that floats, the saltier the brine. Keep floating / adding salt until you get the salinity that you want.
Cover the brine and set it aside to cool down completely.
Invert the basket with the drained cheese onto a clean work surface and remove the cheese cloth. Cut the cheese into large blocks and put them into a clean and sterile container.
Pour the cooled brine over the cheese.
Keep in mind that Feta has to be completely submerged in the brine or else it will go bad. Use an inverted plate with a heavy rock placed on it to keep the Feta under the brine level.
Note: Fresh cow's or sheep's milk can be substituted for the cheese but it will give you a different flavor and consistency.
Pitia is a lactose starter that is used in cheese making to get the milk to separate into whey (liquid) and curd (solids).
Cultured Buttermilk or some other lactic culture (such as milk that is in the process of turning sour) can be substituted (although you'll need a larger quantity - perhaps 1/2 cup to 2 liters of milk) or you can use commercial coagulants that are available .