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How to Make the Best Feta Cheese at Home
Knowing how to make feta cheese at home allows you to have a fresh supply of high quality feta for any of your Greek recipes. It isn't a difficult cheese to make and once you try your own homemade version you may never want to buy it again.
What Is Feta Cheese?
Feta is a traditional Greek cheese, usually made with sheep's milk. It has a crumbly texture and a sharp flavor that is imperative in many Greek recipes. This unique flavor and texture is created by soaking the curds in a special salt brine for a week or more.
Since most people do not have access to fresh sheep's milk you will be happy to know that you can create a wonderful, flavorful Feta with either cow's or goat's milk. Organic milk is preferred, although you can certainly use any whole milk that you have access to.
It is imperative that your equipment be clean and sterilized. Just cover all of the equipment with boiling water for at least three minutes.
Stainless steel is the material of choice for making cheese because it is non-reactive, easy to sterilize and easy to clean. You will need:
- Stainless steel pot with lid
- Stainless steel colander
- Cheese mold or a small colander
- Slotted stainless steel spoons in large and medium sizes
- Long knife
Ingredients for Feta
- One gallon organic cow's or goat's milk (or sheep's milk if you have access to it) at room temperature. Make sure it is whole milk and is not ULTRA-pasteurized.
- ½ rennet tablet to coagulate the milk
- 1 tablespoon plain, organic yogurt at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons kosher salt
How to Make Homemade Feta Cheese
Always follow all of the instructions carefully. Be sure to use the exact amounts and weights specified in the recipe and keep the cheese refrigerated. This recipe yields approximately one pound of feta cheese.
- Carefully pour the gallon of milk into the sterilized stainless steel pot.
- Heat on low until it reaches 88F exactly, stir constantly during heating to keep the bottom from scorching.
- Remove from heat.
- Whisk the yogurt into the milk, making sure that it is thoroughly mixed in.
- Cover the pot and let stand at room temperature for one hour.
- Dissolve the rennet in ½ cup tap water, stirring until it dissolves.
- Pour the rennet solution into the milk and yogurt mixture and let it stand at room temperature for eight hours (or overnight).
- After the eight hours has passed check the milk. There should be a clear separation of the curds and whey. The curds will be thick and white and the whey is watery and greenish. If the separation has not occurred let stand a little longer.
- Using a long, sharp knife (that you have sterilized in boiling water) cut gently through the curds, first vertically and then horizontally. You want to create ½ inch cubes of curd.
- Stir gently with the medium spoon. This will loosen up the curds in preparation for the next step.
- Let stand at room temperature for ten minutes.
- Place a clean cheesecloth in a large colander, lining completely.
- Place the colander and cheesecloth over a large bowl.
- Pour the curds into the colander allowing the whey to drain into the bowl underneath.
- Let stand for several hours to allow the whey to drain away from the curd.
- Reserve whey and set aside.
- Mix the drained curds gently with ½ teaspoon of salt, being careful not to break them
- Press the curds into a mold with drainage holes or a small colander and let stand at room temperature over night.
- Add the five tablespoons of salt to the reserved why and stir well. Make sure all the salt is dissolved. This is the brine for the Feta.
- Cut the Feta into cubes and add to a sterile quart wide mouth jar.
- Pour the brine over the cheese curds, covering them completely.
- Cover the jar and refrigerate for one to four weeks to ripen. Longer storage will result in a crumblier texture.
- Rinse carefully before using.
You can make a flavored Feta by adding herbs and spices to the cheese and marinating it in olive oil.
- 1 pound fresh Feta, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 small sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 cloves chopped garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
- 1 dried Thai chile if desired (not traditional but really good!)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Cracked black pepper to taste
- Place ingredients together in a large, sterile wide mouth jar and refrigerate for at least two hours.
- Let the cheese come to room temperature before using.
Grilled Fig with Feta Appetizer
Grilling fresh figs caramelizes the sugars in them and makes them even sweeter. A sprinkle of Feta balances out the intense sweetness with a burst of fresh flavor. Serve at room temperature. This makes 8 appetizer servings.
- 4 ripe figs cut in half
- ½ cup feta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Brush the figs with oil and grill, cut side down, until the sugar caramelizes.
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon Feta on each fig.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
How to Make Homemade Feta Video 1
How to Make Feta Cheese #2
Tips for Using Feta
- Feta can be stored in the brine in the refrigerator for up to three months
- Do not ever freeze Feta
- Always use this cheese at room temperature for the best flavor
- Add Feta to salads for extra protein and flavor
- Crumble Feta on creamy potato soup
- Use Feta in place of bleu cheese
- Add some rich or sweet ingredient to salads with Feta to balance the flavors – watermelon, black olives, currants, figs, etc.
Keep Everything Clean When Making Cheese
When you make Feta cheese, or any cheese, be sure that everything you use is clean and sterile. Otherwise bacteria can get into the milk and keep it from turning into cheese or even make you sick.
Cheesemaking is an ancient skill that can be done today. Making your own cheeses helps to ensure that you are getting a pure product and it allows you a creative outlet as well.