Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Friendly Feta! (With Bonus Pasteurization Lesson!)

Feta is not my favorite. Now don't get me wrong, I like Feta. It just doesn't make me feel all melty and gluttonous like other cheeses do. Feta is good in moderation with other ingredients to temper it's strong personality, while some other cheeses (in my opinion) are best in hunks straight off the plate.

Many other people don't seem to feel this way. I get feta requests all the time and recently my daughters BFF's dad went bananas describing this "awesome" cheese he had just had (it's called feta! have you heard of it?). Add to this that it's one of my favorite cheeses to make (if not eat) and I thought I would do a Friendly Feta batch this week. AND post about it. WITH PICTURES.

Oh! I also have new toys! 1) a "smart phone" have you heard of these? they shoot my pictures straight over here so I can post them! and 2) a balls awesome thermometer. I have many temperature specific hobbies so it is not unreasonable to spend $100 on a thermometer (she says defensively) FUN!

OK! Lets Make Feta!!!!

1) Milk your goat! I used 1 gallon from my evening milking and a little over a half gallon more from the morning. You can also use store (or farm) bought goat or cow milk. About a gallon and a half.

2) Pasteurize! Feta is a fresh cheese (eaten less than 60 days after it is made) so it is safest to pasteurize your milk first. Also heating goat milk tends to intensify the "goaty" flavor, which is desirable in this cheese. You can pasteurize milk several ways. You can heat the milk in a double boiler to 145 degrees and hold it at that temperature for 30 minutes. OR you can heat the milk in a double boiler to 162 degrees and hold it at that temperature for 15 seconds. OR you can heat it to like 200 or something for like 1 second (which is what they do to grocery store milk) but you can't really do that at home and it totally ruins the proteins so you can't make cheese with it anymore.

Steamy! 163.9 degrees
3) Chill the milk! Quick! Put the milk in an icy water bath and cool that bitch down! If you were pasteurizing for home drinking you would want to take it down below 50 degrees or so, but since this is for cheese I only took it to 86 degrees, which is where I want it to encourage my cheesy bacterial friends to grow.

4) Add cultures! You can use a general "mesophilic" culture for this cheese and get good results. But I am a cheese-o-phile and a big snob and got special (ooooo) cultures. I used 1/4 teaspoon M101 and 1/8 teaspoon Aroma B. But seriously, you can use a packet of mesophilic starter and get very good results. Sprinkle cultures on to the milk and let them sit there for about 2-4 minutes, then stir them in with 20 up and down strokes. Cover the pot and ripen (sit there) for 45 minutes.

Stirring . . . 
5) Coagulate! Add your rennet. I used 1/2 teaspoon diluted in about 1/4 cup of cool water. If you are using cow milk you can add about 1/8 teaspoon of lipase powder (to give it that special flavor), you can also add about 1/2 teaspoon of calcium chloride if you like. Stir with 20 up and down strokes again. And the let it sit for an additional 30-45 minutes until your curd is set.

Rennet in a bowl.
6) Test for a clean break! This is the funnest part! Check to makes sure you are ready to cut the curd by making sure it breaks cleanly first. Like this:

7) Cut the Curd! Into 1/2 inch cubes and then let it sit for 5 minutes.

Cutting . . . 

8) Stir for 20 minutes. Holding at 86 to 90 degrees. I use warm water baths to keep my temperatures stable.

Curds and Whey
9) Scoop the curds into a mold (really any mold, even a bag probably) and let it drain for 6-8 hours, turning every few hours so it drains evenly. I drain mine on a draining board inside of a 9x5 baking pan draining the whey when it gets too deep.

Baby Cheese
10) Cut the cheese into cubes and soak in brine for 3 days in your fridge. I use a "medium" brine made with 10 oz of salt in 1/2 gallon of water. You can leave the cheese in this brine for storage for about a month.

Cheese in Brine.

11) Eat the Cheese! When you are ready to eat the cheese you may think "holy hell! this cheese is crazy salty." Don't worry! You can soak it in water for 15 minutes, or even up to a few hours and it will be much improved. Crumble it on salad! Or a Pizza! Mix it into scrambled eggs! Or just eat it plain! You can do whatever you want with it! Look at my family enjoying this cheese!

I love Feta!

This cheese is sooo good!

Holy Crap! This is the best ever! Yay for mom! No mom is as good as ours!
And that is how you make feta cheese! BOOM!


Annie said...

Holy bat $&#^! Is that a thermapen??? I want one!

Oh, and I made this last night and will tell you how it is in 3 days. :) And, for the record, I will post again soon.

Megan said...

It IS a thermapen and thank you for noticing! I have been very good and thought I deserved a present. I love it love it love it. It's rad.