Monday, September 12, 2011

Feta Cheese

A friend of mine has been suggesting making feta for many years.  Now, what with a forum to share my experience, I decided I better get around to it!  I found this recipe on a website called the Made Manual, which is some sort of Martha Stewart for men.  But the recipe seemed solid, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

You will need

1 gallon whole milk ($5.99)

1Tbsp live culture yogurt ($1.50 for 6 oz, $1.50/12 = $.13)

½ tablet rennet ($6.50 for 10 tablets, $6.50/20 = $.33)

1 ½ cups kosher salt ($2.75 for 48 oz, $2.75/5.9 cups = $.466 x 1.5 = $.69)

I knew going into this that it would be an all day process.  I hunkered down, made a to-do list for around the house, and got to work.  I also made my yogurt at the same time, I figured I may as well for the sake of time.  I put the milk on, heated it up properly, mixed in the yogurt, then added the rennet.  My rennet is old, it came with a cheese making kit I bought in 2008, but according to the company it would keep for over 5 years as long as it was kept in the freezer (it was).  I don’t know, though.  It never got as firm as it was supposed to.  I let it sit for an extra hour, and it never got firm enough to cut cleanly.  But, assuming you have fresh rennet, “cutting cleanly” means that it can be cut with a knife without any of the white curd oozing in, just the watery whey filling the space.  Then you dice it (mine never diced, too sloppy), which means cut it straight down in lines, then at a diagonal from opposite sides.
Not too bad, but still not cutting cleanly.
Draining was interesting since it was all goopy, it didn’t do much.  I decided to hang it once it had gone down a bit to help the process (for hanging instructions, see the yogurt post).  At the bundle got smaller, I tied it tighter so it wasn’t touching the colander.  It seemed to work.  Next was just to stick it in the brine and wait 6 to 30 days.  I waited 8.
Beginning the hanging process

And ending it.  So much liquid!
Spread out in a casserole dish to set.
Today I pulled it out of the fridge, and it looked like baby spit up.  Not so appetizing, but I thought, I bet it’s really tasty.  It looked much less gloppy, the feta had a decent feel to it.  I tried a bite straight out of the brine.  Mistake.  It was so salty I nearly gagged, so I drained it, rinsed it, and tried again.  Second mistake, still too salty.  I’m not sure my cheese is edible.  It’s really disappointing to have something take up so much fridge space for a week and taste so revolting.  I’m not saying it can’t be done, but I would not use this recipe, and I would make sure your rennet is fresh.  Good golly that’s nasty.
Looks tasty, right?  Not so.

Try It:

$7.14 per 24 oz, or $.29/oz

Buy It:

$6.89 per 12 oz, or $.57/oz

 Just Buy It.  If it had been good it would have been a great deal, even with the all day process.  Unfortunately it was gross.


  1. It might have been the milk. I went through a mozarella phase, but if the milk has been ultra-pasterized it just won't set up. Problem is, it's hard to tell by the label how the milk has been treated. I will not try making cheese again, though, even though the one time (out of maybe 4 tries) it turned out, it was great.

  2. Oh, bummer, Laura. Sorry it didn't turn out. Perhaps worth another try? Try It Take II?

  3. I know it wasn't ultra pasteurized, I was very sure not to get that. I just don't think cheese is my thing. When I made mozzarella back in 2008, that was pretty gross, too, but for the opposite reason- it was bland and tough. I think I need some actual person telling what to do when in order to have success. Em, if you give it a go, I'd love to hear the results!

  4. Hmm, a new blog? A day with an expert? Share tips on cheesemaking and other things that really need someone with expertise to walk you through the first time.