Homemade Feta Cheese sans Rennet

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I’ve made feta before and talked about it and how salty it was. It was basically a still-edible soft extra salty cheese. Not a complete disaster, but close.

The recipe I used can be found here. However, there are some quite unusual things in the recipe that I can see why my previous attempt did not work.

Here is what I did:

I used cow’s milk. I don’t know why feta is seen as a cheese that must be made from other animal’s milk, but I like it best with cow’s milk.

I used less than a gallon because that is what I had. I used approximately 3/4 of a gallon.

  • Heat up the milk + yogurt slowly, constantly stirring to prevent scalding.
  • The temperature should reach past 180F, not 86F. That’s one strange thing I noticed.
  • I continuously heated the milk + yogurt, brought it to boiling, then would promptly turn off the heat (I have a gas range) to prevent spilling over the top of the pot for about 10 – 12 minutes. I was using my largest pot and the milk didn’t even come to halfway up the sides before heating.
  • Turn the heat off for the final time, leaving the pot in place on the hot burner. Slowly add 3 Tablespoons each of fresh lemon juice and white vinegar.
  • Let the mixture set for a few minutes without touching it.
  • Drag the spoon through the mixture and you should start to see curds and whey separate. I did, but if you do not, bring the mixture to a boil for a few more minutes.
  • Once curds and whey are separated, add in some salt. I used 1 & 1/2 teaspoons.
  • When my pot cooled down to a temperature that would not burn me or my wool blanket, I wrapped said pot in said wool blanket and set to the side of my kitchen for about 8 hours. It wasn’t overnight, as I had started this in the morning.

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  • After the time has passed, stir the contents, noticing the curds and whey.
  • Line a strainer with cheesecloth, and have a bowl to catch the whey.
  • Pour contents into cheesecloth, then tie up cheesecloth, squeeze a bit, then hang up over a pot to strain some more for 2 – 4 hours, or until no more whey drips out.
  • Use a strainer again to get the final shaping and firmness. I just took down the dripping bag of feta, placed it into a smaller colander, and placed my heavy, filled klean kanteen on top of it. Remember to keep a bowl under the strainer for any extra whey.
  • Prepare the brine: I used the leftover whey and added 1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) of salt. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of salt added to the brine, but this is what ruined my cheese last time. It might not taste too salty with 2 Tablespoons, but the next day, I could tell it was pretty much the perfect amount. Place brine into a clean glass jar and place into the refrigerator.
  • After cheese has been strained for another 8 hours, remove cheesecloth and place into brine. Store this for 3 days before use for proper taste and texture.

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I am so glad I tried this recipe again. Next time, I will try to strain it the second time around for even longer, or use heavier items to get that nice firm texture. Mine is still quite soft, but it is very close to the feta I had while working at a hostel in Greece.

Peace and love,

Kristan

Greek Salad

The first places I visited outside of the US were Greece and Italy. I sold my beloved 1971 Volkswagen Bus (green and white 😍) and bought my plane tickets with the money.

This Athens vignette is still dreamy to me.

I had the time of my life traveling and staying in hostels. My original plan was to work at a hostel on an island and chill for five weeks. We ended up staying for a couple weeks at Corfu, but then traveled on to southern Italy and eventually made our way back to Corfu.

While working at the hostel, I learned how to wash an outrageous amount of dishes very quickly, pluck a rooster, make Greek pancakes, serve wine, and make a killer Greek salad.

Some 35mm photos I took with my beloved Canon AE-1 Program.

There were olives aplenty in Greece, and we used black olives for the salads, whole, not chopped, and it’s still the way I prefer my salads.

The hostel matriarch, Madalena, made her own feta cheese, and this time, I did as well. I cannot find feta unpackaged anywhere!

  • 1 head of Romaine lettuce (I like the red)
  • 1 can of olives (nope, not in bulk, but still recyclable)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1/3 – 1/2 red onion
  • feta

 

I own a mandoline slicer, and this is one of the few recipes I feel require a type of tool like this, unless you have mad chopping skills.

Tear or chop the lettuce and place into a large bowl.

Slice the red onion very thinly, then cut into half moons.

Slice the cucumber slightly thicker than the onion, cut into half moons if you wish. I do sometimes.

Slice the tomatoes into thin slices. I use a vintage tomato slicer that makes the perfect size slices, and cut into half moons.

Place all the vegetables into the bowl.

Top with olives, feta, and then I always pour some olive brine over the top of the salad, and then it doesn’t need any sort of dressing.

Enjoy!

Peace and love,

Kristan