A cheese that sits on the counter in a brine for several weeks, with no need for refrigeration or a fancy cheese cave is a cheese for me.
Because of its simplicity and forgiving nature, this is the only cheese I make regularly (besides kefir and yogurt cheese). If you like flavorful cheese and don’t want to fuss with complicated recipes, this one’s for you too.
Simple Homestead Feta Cheese
If you like flavorful cheese and don’t want to fuss with complicated recipes, this homemade feta cheese recipe is for you.
- ½ gallon fresh milk
- ¼ tsp mesophilic culture or 1 tbsp kefir
- ½ tsp rennet mixed into ¼ cup water
- 1/3 cup salt + 2 cups water or whey for brine
- Heat the milk to approximately 85˚F (29˚C), or barely warm to the touch. If you are working with milk fresh from the pail, you can omit the heating step. Add the culture and whisk carefully to completely combine. Cover with a lid and leave to culture for 1 hour.
- Mix the rennet and water together and pour into the cultured milk. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Cover the pot again and let sit overnight, or for 8 to 12 hours.
- In the morning, the curds and whey should be slightly separated and you should be able to break it cleanly when inserting a knife or finger into the curd.
- Line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth, butter muslin or a clean tea towel. Place the colander into a larger bowl set in a sink in order to save the whey.
- Cut the curd into 1/2-inch (13-mm) cubes in both directions and stir for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the curds into the lined colander and allow the whey to drip through.
- Gather up the cheesecloth and hang the cheese over a bowl for 12 hours at room temperature (65 to 85˚F [18 to 29˚C]). Save 2 cups (473 ml) of the whey for the brine. After 12 hours, flip the cheese over and allow it to hang an additional 12 hours.
- Salt the cheese on all sides and place in a sealable container. Seal and let sit at room temperature for an additional 24 to 48 hours or until firm and ready for brine.
- Make a strong brine using the salt and water or whey saved from straining the curds. Once the cheese is drained, cut into ½ to 1-inch (13- to 25-mm) pieces and place in the brine. It’s okay if the cheese crumbles a bit. The cheese can now be stored for 2 to 4 weeks at room temperature or 1 to 2 months in the refrigerator, as long as it stays under the brine.
Reprinted with permission from Traditionally Fermented Foods by Shannon Stonger, Page Street Publishing Co. 2017. Photo credit: Shannon Stonger