Author Topic: kan-do's First Feta - Fail, Questions  (Read 1350 times)

Offline kan-do

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kan-do's First Feta - Fail, Questions
« on: April 20, 2010, 06:27:08 PM »
So I have under my belt two cheeses - a hot queso with citric acid from a kit, and a cooler queso with buttermilk and rennet ( I eat a lot of feta, so I decided to move on to that.

First off, I used a different milk, and my hot queso took twice the amount of acid it should have to curdle. Then I moved on to my first attempt at feta... I've was following these two recipes: and I used whole cows milk because it is easier to get, and I want a batch to first succeed before I go chasing goat's milk. It was the same milk as the queso blanco, and I verified that it is not ultrapasturized. I found a small "single serve" of plain non-fat Safeway (Lucern?) yogurt. It said it had active cultures. I heated the milk up to 85 degrees. I added 1 TBS of the yogurt, and then let it sit for one hour. I got some liquid vegetable rennet that I opened last weekend, but I botched cutting the tip, so I keep the bottle in a plastic bag. The bottle says 1/2 tsp for 2 gallons to make hard cheese, so I used 1/4 tsp and whisked it in for a few minutes. It seemed very milky to me at that point. It was 8pm at that point, so I decided to let it sit overnight covered. In the morning, I got up and cut it at 6:30. It was kind of like jello. I got out a plastic slotted spoon to stir it with, and that's when I realized it was the consistency of yogurt, and fell through my spoon. The color was white - no clumps of white with yellow-green whey. I declared it failed, but decided to go ahead and throw in some more rennet, cover it, and go to work. When I got home, it was slightly chunkier, but still yogurt. I put it down the drain.

I'm looking around at other recipes in books, and I'm realizing they either call for buttermilk or mesophilic starter. I also found this discussion:,1668.0.html

Did it fail because I used yogurt? Somebody also suggested I may not have used enough, or that I didn't wait long enough.

I'm trying to grasp what might have gone wrong.

Offline linuxboy

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Re: kan-do's First Feta - Fail, Questions
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2010, 07:07:10 PM »
Let's cover some fundamental principles.

Any kind of culture builds acid. Acid is necessary for proper cheese texture and flavor. When too much acid builds up, that coagulates the milk.

Rennet also coagulates milk, but not in the same way acid does. Acid precipitates the protein by neutralizing the charge the proteins have in milk. Whereas rennet is an enzyme, and breaks that protein to allow the individual proteins to bond together and form a curd.

The combination of the rennet and the acid is what makes a cheese like feta possible. In feta, the rennet coagulates in the beginning, when little acid has built up. Then as you cook the curds, the acid keeps building, and then you drain the whey off and let the curds fuse together in a mold. In the meantime, the acid builds up some more, and forms the flavor, texture, and consistency of feta. A substance called a lipase also is necessary for feta. It gives it that sharp feta taste. Lipase breaks down fats, that's where the flavor comes from.

Now in your case what happened is you added the yogurt, and let the culture make acid. It kept making acid for a long, long time. And instead of making acid in the finished, cooked, and drained curds, it made acid in the entire milk. So while the rennet coagulated the milk, it didn't really matter so much, because you didn't cut and cook the curds.

Does that make sense? Also, feta needs a mesophilic culture, like buttermilk, and also needs lipase.
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Offline John (CH)

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Re: kan-do's First Feta - Fail, Questions
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2010, 08:49:22 PM »
Hi kan-do, just to add to Linux's comments, because Feta is made at low temp you need a low temp loving "mesophilic" acid making starter culture not a high temp loving "thermophilic" acid making starter culture. While both of these can be bought as freeze dried refined products, it is common to use store bought buttermilk for meso and yogurt for thermo.

When you try making Feta again, recommend this recipe, if using buttermilk, make sure as per the above link you pre-ripen it thoroughly first to get the microorganism count high.

Lipase as linuxboy says is a must when using cow's milk to get the piquant taste, otherwise you have milky salty tasting curds like I got on my first try which was without Lipase. My latest batch's records here. You have to buy Lipase from a cheesemaking supply store.

While you are waiting on an order, may I suggest making a primarily lactic acid type Light Cream Cheese using milk and ripened buttermilk, fun and quick and tasty. Most people in US call it American Style Neufchatel.