Finished feta

This will be a short post as not much has really gone on today that was very interesting. Although to be fair, the cat was so unhappy about having her claws trimmed that she left a smelly little mess down the front of my sweater. Still not interesting, but it is a part of my day that stands out.

Forget cat turds for a moment, and let’s move onto another animal by-product: cheese.

When I got home from work today, it was time to try the feta. It has sat in the brine for 48 hours, and according to the recipe it just needed a light rinse under the tap to adjust the salinity. It was like eating cheese that was adrift in the sea for a few years. The consistency and texture was nice, and I think having rinsed it and let it soak in fresh water overnight will make it a success all around.

Two weeks from now I’ll be buying goat milk from a local farm to try producing some real feta. Stay tuned.

Feta Part II

After the feta was hung (Part I), I lined two molds with cheesecloth, salted the curds and spooned it in their new resting place for the next 16 hours, some new square molds I picked up. I was able to load both molds at once in the press and the whey really started to flow. Instead of going full-out with the weight, I started by adding only a few inches of water in the gallon jug I have hanging for weight. Every few hours I topped up the water to slowly build pressure on the cheese. This helps stops a lot of the milk fats from getting strained out with the whey.

After the prescribed time, and then some, from the Junket recipe, I was left with two blocks of feta tightly packed in the cheesecloth. These aren’t really ready to eat, although the scraps I had were delicious, though bland.

Bricks of feta straight from the press

They have to be pickled in a brine for a couple of days. 5 tablespoons of salt and 600ml of water later, the brine was complete. Nothing fancy, but apparently it does the trick.

The bricks were cut into 1 ½” cubes and stuffed in a 1L sterilizer jar. Brine poured over, cap on, cheesy photo of the sun shining through the glass taken, in the fridge.

Blocks-o-feta! Just like lego, but they don't hurt your foot when you step on them.

Cheesy photo, as promised, of the finished product

I don’t know how feta-y tasting this will be as we don’t have goats (we’re sticking with breaking only one bylaw for now). In a few weeks I’m going to take a drive up to Arthur, Ontario to buy some goat milk from a farm, and I’m sure the resulting cheese will be a lot more Greek (without the riots and bailouts).

Feta Part I

I won’t go into too many details in this post as it is very similar to the cheddar cheese making process. For feta cheese, you add plain Greek yogurt containing active bacteria cultures to inoculate, rather than buttermilk. The other difference is that the cat stayed away for most of the process. She must be part German and sick of anything Greek.

If you want the exact recipe for this cheese, visit David B. Fankhauser’s website (http://biology.clc.uc.edu/Fankhauser/Cheese/Feta.htm). He is the author of all the Junket recipes which come in the packet.

The inoculation takes only an hour until you add the rennet. The mixture of yogurt, rennet and homogenized milk needs to sit overnight to get a clean break. Once this is achieved, you follow the curd cutting process the same as the cheddar, but you do not set the curds with additional heat. Instead, I just gently stirred every few minutes for half an hour or so. By doing this, the curds contract and start to expel the whey they are holding.

Once the majority of the whey was decanted, the curds were strained in cheese cloth supported by a fine mesh strainer. The corners of the cloth were pulled up and tied off so it can hang for a few hours. The cheese is currently hanging, and once it has drained enough, it will be on to part II which includes molding and salting. The hook on the cheese press for the weight is doubling as a hanging apparatus for the feta:

By Monday we should be eating a fresh feta cheese in our salad and hopefully not be spending the rest of the week sick on the toilet from it.