Yield: Makes 6 small Creamy Feta cheeses.
Time Frame: 1 hour over 3 days to make; 2 weeks–2 months to age.
Some folks like their fetas firm and crumbly; others prefer theirs soft and creamy. A softer version of feta can be made using a lactic curd (essentially chèvre) instead of a firmer full-rennet curd as in the feta recipe. Commonly called Bulgarian feta, this cheese is now labeled as Bulgarian white cheese because of the PDO protecting the name feta.
Bulgarian feta uses a lighter dose of rennet and a longer fermentation time to make a creamier and more flavorful curd. The soft curd is drained and formed, salted, and air-dried into a shaped chèvre. The round of cheese is then brine-aged just like a firmer feta. Try the two fetas side by side to see which version you prefer.
- 1 gallon (4 L) good milk
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) active kefir or whey
- 1/4 dose rennet (1 use 1/16 tablet WalcoRen calf rennet)
- Good salt
- 1-gallon (4-L) cheesemaking pot
- Slotted spoon
- 6 cylindrical goats’ cheese forms
- Draining table
- 1-quart (1-L) glass jar with lid for brine-aging
- Refrigerator for aging
- Slowly warm the milk to 90 degrees F (32 degrees C), baby-bottle-warm, then turn the heat off.
- Add the kefir or whey to the pot along with the small dose of rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup (60 mL) water. Gently stir the milk to incorporate the rennet and culture.
- Cover the pot, and let it ferment at room temperature for 24 hours. During this time, the curd will acidify, firm up into soft curd with a yogurt like consistency and sink under its whey to the bottom of the pot.
- Ladle the curds into the forms: With the slotted spoon, transfer the curds from the pot to the forms atop the draining table. Fill the forms right to their brims with curd.
- Prepare a light salt brine: As the curds are draining, prepare a 7 percent salt brine with 1 quart (1 L) of whey in a large glass jar. Dissolve 1/4 cup (60 mL) of salt in the whey, then leave the brine at room temperature to ferment until the cheese is ready to be brine-aged.
- Drain 24 hours. Flip the young cheeses at some time after 12 hours of draining, whenever is convenient. The cheeses will be very soft, so handle them gently.
- Salt the cheeses by applying 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of salt around the surfaces of each cheese.
- Air-dry the cheeses on a draining mat at room temperature for 24 hours, flipping them once or twice to ensure an even drying. When the cheeses are dried to the touch, they can be brine-aged.
- Brine-age the cheeses: Place the cheeses into the light salt brine in a jar, and leave them to age in a cool place with a temperature less than 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). Keep the cheeses submerged, if need be, by placing a weight atop them. The Creamy Feta will be ready in 2 weeks but can age up to 2 months.
More from The Art of Natural Cheesemaking:
From The Art of Natural Cheesemaking: Using Traditional, Non-Industrial Methods and Raw Ingredients to Make the World’s Best Cheeses by David Asher, © 2015 by David Asher. Reprinted by arrangement with Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT.