Making cheese can be labor intensive, but it is not difficult. It requires attention to detail, a super clean work area, a few specialty ingredients, and patience. Feta cheese is aged in a brine; making it salty and creamy.
1 gallon pasterized goat’s milk (do not use ultra-pasterized)
1/4 tsp aroma B mesophillic starter
4 drops (double strength*) rennet
1/4 cup non-chlorinated (bottled) water
flake sea salt or kosher salt
8 cups water
1/2 cup kosher salt
Heat the goat’s milk slowly in a large heavy stock pot to 74F. Remove pot from the flame and burner (but leave on stove), and gently stir in the mesophillic starter. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before moving on to the next step.
Meanwhile, mix the rennet into the 1/4 cup water and after the wait time, gently stir into the milk pot. Do not scrape the sides or bottom of pan, but gently stir for about 2 minutes. Cover the pot and leave on the back of the stove undisturbed for 12 hours. the objective is to keep the milk at the 74F for the entire time
After 12 hours, gently ladle the curds into a muslin lined colander (over a bowl if you wish to keep the curds). Allow it to sit uncovered for 1 hour. After 1 hour, tie the ends of the butter muslin to create a pouch that can be suspended or hung**. I tie the pouch to my sink faucet and allow the curds to drain directly into the sink. It is also easy to run a wooden spoon through the knot and suspend the pouch over a deep pot. Allow the curds to drain for a full 12 hours. Open the pouch remove the curd mass (it should be fairly stable) and flip it over. return it to the butter muslin and suspend for an additional 12 hours.
**an alternative: after you have drained the curds for the initial 1 hour, you can transfer the curds to a muslin lined plastic tomato basket, flipping every couple of hours. this will give you a more uniform shape.
remove the curd, which should now be quite firm, from the cheesecloth and place on a draining mat, or surface that has small holes (cooling rack, pizza pan, bamboo mat). Cut the curds into desired size (about 1″x1″ or larger for interesting presentation). Lightly salt all sides of the pieces and allow to dry for 3-5 days uncovered in your refrigerator. you are looking for the pieces to become a bit yellow on the edges. Prepare your brine with enough advance that it is cooled to approx 60F by the time you are ready to use it (you can store it in the refrigerator if made in advance). To prepare the brine, simply boil the water and add the salt. stir to dissolve completely.
When ready to brine, place the dried cheese pieces in a glass jar, careful not to jam and pour the brine over. cover the jar and brine the feta for 2-3 weeks before enjoying. You will notice the flavor builds as time progresses. If stored properly, this will last about 6 months (although i dare say it is so delicious, it probably won’t make it that long!)
I find the brine a bit salty, so I quickly rinse my feta in non-chlorinated water, and gently dry with a paper towel before eating. It is delicious & beautifully presented with strong black olives, a bit of hot pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.