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Feta Cheese


Owly
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      I've been making my own Feta cheese since Costco saw fit (locally) to discontinue the blocks, and offers only the crumbles several years  ago.  I'm learning to hate Costco... which I've been a member of for years.   Anything I buy regularly.... good quality reliable products, the discontinue.    I swear there is a little pinched face accountant looking guy in green  eyeshades who follows me around with a clipboard, and notes what I buy so they can put it on the kill list.   Field and Stream flannel shirts, Feta cheese, Kirkland Signature 5 pocket jeans, R 134A refrigerant, high quality nut and dried fruit trail mix (brand?), and now the final kick in the nuts Kirkland Decaf coffee....... an insult to those of us who drink decaf!   We are a "sub species" that doesn't deserve decent quality coffee....  And there are  many other examples I can't think of at the moment.  Walmart (yes, I do stoop to buying a few items there).... does the same thing to me.  

 

     Feta is about the easiest of cheeses to make, and home made is superior to store bought.    New England Cheese Supply  is the best source for recipes, and ingredients, though I do not buy their expensive cultures anymore, but rather use Kefir for a starter.   I buy rennet on line...... preferring real calf rennet to veggie or vegan rennet........ There is a special place in hell for vegans!...., and I buy calcium chloride to compensate for processed milk.  I do have a small stock of things to enhance the flavor.... flora danica & lipase.  The first to give it a creamier flavor, and the second to give it a "goaty" flavor as with goat's milk.......... I absolutely refuse to own milk, or in any way deal with goats.... Been there, done that!!

 

     What I really want is a circulator for warming the milk.  I've tried my Annova, and the result was burned milk on the element....... Patience is probably the order of the day here.......  just put it on a seedling mat and wrap it in a towel........  I'm "locked down" today and yesterday..... temps have not risen above -1 for two days, so I'm doing indoor projects......  just ran off a gallon of 100 proof gin from 5 gallon sugar wash, so my fermentation chamber is available to get the temps I want for hanging the feta, so I'm making a gallon of milk into feta today.  It's dirt simple.. heat to 90F, add kefir, and calcium chloride, let "ripen" for an hour, add one quarter tab of rennet, dissolved in 1/4 c water stirred gently.   Then leave for an hour to thicken, and cut the curds, stirring gently at 5 minute intervals until they reach poached egg consistency... 30 to 60 min.   Then pour the whey off, and ladle into a colander with cheese muslin, allowing to drain further, sprinkle 2T salt (cheese or pickling salt), allowing it to draw  more of the whey off.  You can use a form and press at this time...... but I just hang it and let it drain in a warm place (my fermentation chamber).  Once firm and well drained.  I then slice and salt it on the surfaces and leave it for several days at room temp before putting it in a brine made from whey and salt 7% salt by weight.  

   It sounds like a lot of monkeying around, but amounts to a few minutes here and there over a few days................. The product is well worth it!!

 

                                                                       H.W.

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  • 1 year later...

Interest in cheese making seems to be virtually non existent here........ My own interests are almost infinite.. though I could care less about team sports, ladies fashion, television or movies, etc.  That kind of puts me "beyond the pale" among most people I know......... not that I give a flying F!  

    Microbes have been a passion of mine since childhood........ 50+ years.   My "new best friend" in the microbe world is Bacillus Subtilus.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacillus_subtilis The microbe that is used to produce Natto......... a very unpleasant tasting Japanese food, well loved in parts of Japan, but offensive to the North American Palette.   It is a slimy strong tasting soy product that is repellent to most people........ including me.    It has the virtue of being extremely high in vitamin K2.......... and you can read about the benefits of K2, particularly to your heart almost anywhere.   I dehydrate mine and use it in smoothies.   The flavor has been compared to strong flavored washed rind cheeses........ which do not appeal to me either.

     I've begun efforts to use B subtilus in cheese..... second effort the other day.   Feta is perhaps the easiest cheese to make, and fortunately is one of my favorites.   As I make natto regularly, I dumped the milk in the container, and brought it up to temp for a few hours, then innoculated with kefir, and pitched my rennet.  The product looks excellent, but the flavor is not what I wanted....... at this point.  It will "ripen" in brine at under 50F for 2 weeks, but I suspect that the B Subtills flavor will not really develop at that temp.    The previous effort used a mesh bag of natto submerged in the milk...... I left it all afternoon....... a mistake as the milk curdled....but I think the approach was fundamentally sound......... the time and temp need to be adjusted.  I will work to  hone in on the optimal time over the next few months.     Interestingly nitrogen enhanced whey is used to culture B Subtilus to produce vitamin K......... but I suspect aeration is a big factor.  

 

                                                                H.W.

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