I have been obsessed with a lots of things during various periods of my life. Once I was so much interested in painting that you can see me any time of the day painting. Then it was fashion designing and embroidery. Then came butter cream decorations on cake, and then blogging, and then came egg less baking and finally I have come to cake decorations with fondant. Along with that I am also obsessed with home made cheeses for a few months now. When I tried egg less baking, I used to end up with so many not so edible cakes and it would be a wastage of all ingredients. But as far as cheese is concerned, even if it was a failure, you will end up with tasty cheese. So for feta cheese, I have done it thrice and only once I got it right. Once I made a lovely cream cheese with my failed attempt at feta. So this is a win win situation. No loss.
While making home made cheese, the only way it could go wrong is by using the wrong milk. For feta I used the packed milk we get in stores. The milk didn’t become solid cheese at all. I ended with a soft cheese. As I didn’t know what to do, I threw it away. Then my second attempt was with another brand of packed milk and again the cheese came out soft. But this time I had the sense to pour it into a cloth lined sieve and I had beautiful creamy cheese the next day. So for the next attempt, I used milk sold by milk man which is fresh. And this time I ended with an amazing home made version of feta which was tangy, mildly salty, which crumbles so nice and which also melted while hot. The process of making feta is quite easy, only virtue you need is patience. Usually feta is made with goat’s milk but I didn’t get goat’s milk in my locality and so used cow’s milk. If you can get fresh goat’s milk, then surely try with that.
The making of feta needs curd, fresh milk from your local dairy, a digital thermometer and liquid rennet and lots and lots of patience. I purchased a pack of vegetarian liquid rennet from Amazon India. It is better to start your work at morning as the cheese curd needs a setting time of 8 hours and 4 hours of draining time. Then it needs to be left into a cheese press overnight. Morning feta will be ready to go into brine. And then it will take a week or two for you to use it in recipes. The more the feta stays in brine, it becomes firm and crumbles readily. I really wanted my cheese to be a perfect block but there were some issues with the overnight pressing. The centre of the block was well pressed while the sides were crumbly. So next time I need to press it right to get a decent block. As for this batch, I crumbled it and used it in my Feta Cheese Biscuits and it turned out absolutely delicious. With two litres of milk I got nearly 200 gm of feta. When I purchased Feta for the first time in Chennai, I was shocked by the price. And I was shocked further at how salty it was. I washed it in running water and didn’t add a bit of salt in the recipe and even then the final dish was too salty. It left a bad taste in the mouth. So when I made it at home, I reduced the salt in the brine, didn’t add salt to cheese and so the final cheese was mildly salty and didn’t affect the final dish. I am so happy that I tried. And I will be making it again.
Fresh Cow’s Milk-2 lt
Liquid Vegetarian Rennet-1/4 tsp
Heat milk to 30°C.
Mix curd with equal amounts of milk and add it to milk. Mix it gently for 20 seconds.
Cover and set aside for one hour.
Now add liquid rennet and mix it for 20 seconds in an up and down motion.
Cover and set aside for 5-6 hours.
The whey will be separated from the cheese and it will be set.
With the help of a knife, cut the cheese into 1 1/2″ squares. It will be hard to cut. Set aside for 15 minutes so that it lets out more whey.
Now break the cheese with your hand into tiny pieces.
Line a sieve with a cotton cloth and pour the cheese into it. Save 3 cups of whey to make brine.
Tie a knot with the four corners of the cloth and let it hang for 4 hours so that the remaining whey drains.
By the time, add salt to the brine and cover and set aside overnight to develop acidity.
Make holes in a plastic container, place the drained cheese along with the cloth and cover.
Place a weight and let it drain overnight. The more the weight the compact the cheese will be. Make sure that the whey drains onto a plate.
The next day, remove the weight, carefully remove the cheese from the press and cut into slices.
Place the slices in a box, pour the fermented brine so that the cheese immerses into the brine.
Place a piece of butter paper on top to make sure that the cheese stays inside brine.
Cover and refrigerate for a week or two.
Drain water and use the cheese in salads or any other dish.