So tomatoes on the vine were on sale this week. While rearranging the fridge to fit the groceries, my eyes fell on the feta container, then on the tomatoes, ding, insert light bulb turning on over my head. So I sliced up some of my homemade bread, a tomato, and upon fishing a chunk of feta out of the brine I realized there are only 2 chunks of feta left (well 1 1/2 now) due to my generous nature and trying to keep my sons mother happy (Sent her a fair amount from my last batch), but I digress. So I put tomatoes on the bread, feta on the tomatoes, little sprinkle of basil (dried was all I had at hand) and drizzled olive oil over top of everything. Oooh my Gaawd this is like soooo narley (picture teenage girl speak). But seriously it was sooooo f****** good! Isn't it the simple pleasures that are the best? So back to the law of diminishing feta. I was planning an easy weekend, then my son says pizza, and I realize that I haven't attempted mozzarella since that first misguided attempt at cheese making, but hey that was then and this is now, it's time for another crack at it, "pizza on Friday" I volunteer. Then the discovery that I am almost out of feta, so what can I do but make more. After all I'm not paying those silly prices for a feta that is no where near as good as what I can make (or mozzarella for that matter, that is if I can actually make it this time). So mozzarella tomorrow, feta on Friday, and camembert on Saturday. This is gonna be one seriously milk curdling week. So check back in a few days for the recipe and process I use, it's nothing special, just a normal feta recipe but this is a cheese forum and I am making cheese, and no matter how simple, feta really is a blessed, crumbly, creamy, salty little bit of joy. Well I think so anyway.
And so here it is
2 gal whole p/h milk
1/2 tsp cal chlor
1/4 tsp mild lipase dissolved in 1/4 cup filtered aged water (hey I like the goaty tang in my feta)
2 oz meso culture
2 oz thermo culture
1/4 tsp calf rennet in 1/4 c aged filtered water
Heat milk to 86 F (though I often overshoot and end up at 90 with no apparent harm to the cheese)
Add cal chlor, lipase solution, and cultures to the milk
Let ripen 1 hour
Flocculation occurred at 16 minutes, 4x multiplier = 64 min.
At 64 minutes after adding rennet cut curd to 1/2 inch
Rest 10 minutes and stir briefly, stir every 15 min. stir 3 more times over the course of 1 hour.
Drain curds into cheesecloth lined colander (I am actually doing 2 in square molds, but my son thinks the flying saucer shape I get by molding in the colander is cool so I kinda gotta do that to keep him amused) and let drain 1 hour, 30 minutes for the square molds, until first turning. Many people use ricotta baskets, I just don't have any yet. The Square molds I fill directly without cheesecloth. After the first turning I stack the 2 square molds, reversing them at each turning so the top is on the bottom and versa visa. The cheesecloth gets removed from the big one in the colander at the first turning and it continues the rest of the draining naked.
Flip and drain-
Flip and drain
Flip'n drain flip and drain times to be added as I do them
6-8 hours in a 26% brine, with the addition of 2 Tbsp cal chlor and 1 tsp vinegar/gal
Store and age in a 8% brine (I may do a 5% brine this time to make it a tad less salty) also with the addition of 2 Tbsp cal chlor and 1 tsp vinegar/gal
This is such an easy and stress free make and the results so overshadow the commercial versions that it is well worth doing. And the feta is delicious and useful in so many ways. It can be eaten after a week of aging, less perhaps if you're desperate, but it really improves with a month or more of aging. I had a feta that I had a couple of pieces age for a year and it was quite nice. I tend to give it a few days in the 8% brine at room temperature before moving it to the cave or fridge.
to be continued
I was planning on a camembert make this weekend but unless I get caught up on all the other projects and/or get bored I guess I will put that on hold for the time being.