A salty, crumbly, curdy cheese that is most often made from goat's or sheep's milk. As opposed to other cheeses which are aged or cured, Feta Cheese is pickled in brine, hence its high salt content.
Feta Cheese is a key ingredient in the making of Greek salad.
Feta cheese is produced in block form, but is sold in many varieties including blocks, cubes, and crumbles. The texture of this cheese varies from soft to semi-hard.
Selecting and Buying
Difficulty: Moderately Easy
1. Look for Greek feta cheese wrapped in Cryo-vac containers. These should contain some of the brine the cheese was made with. Tightly-wrapped feta cheese resting on a plastic or foam platter does not contain brine, which adds flavor and moisture.
2.Read the label for country of origin. Select Greek feta cheese imported from Greece, rather than from France or Bulgaria. Greek feta makers produce the cheese with ingredients from different regions and offer a greater variety of textures and tastes.
3.Check the ingredients list on the label. Make sure it contains at least some goat's milk or sheep's milk, as opposed to purely cow's milk. Goat's milk or sheep's milk give Greek feta cheese its distinctive taste.
4.Buy several different brands of Greek feta cheese and taste each one. It should be creamy, moist and slightly sharp.
5.Examine the packaging of the Greek feta cheese. The cheese should look moist and very white in color, rather than a dried-out brick or loose mass of yellowish crumbs.
Feta is delicious crumbled over traditional Mediterranean Salads. Did you know that you can make it yourself by using some common household ingredients? It is an easy, fascinating process with a great result.
* 1 gallon fresh goat milk
* 1 tablespoon fresh yogurt (Dannon Plain works well)
* 1/2 tablet rennet, dissolve in 1/4 cup water
* 1+ gallon pot with lid (stainless steel with heavy bottom is best; enamel works, but you must stir it!)
Warm one gallon of fresh goat's milk to 30°C (86°F), stirring it regularly so that it does not burn on the bottom. Remove it from the heat and set aside.
Mix 1 tablespoon of yogurt with an equal amount of milk to blend. Stir the blended yogurt and milk into the warmed milk and mix thoroughly. Cover and and allow the inoculated milk to sit for one hour at room temperature.
While the inoculated milk sits, dissolve 1/2 tablet of rennet in fresh, cool water.
After the inoculated milk has sat for one hour, add the dissolved rennet and stir to mix thoroughly.
Let the inoculated, renneted milk sit covered overnight at room temperature.
Check for a clean break the next morning, by which time the milk should have gelled and some of the whey will have separated.
Cut the curd by starting at one side, and cut straight down to bottom. Make the next cut 1/2 inch from and parallel to the first, but sloping slightly (the sliced curd will be wider at bottom than top). Repeat increasing angle with each cut. Turn the pot 90° and repeat cuts. Repeat cuts and turning two more times. The curd pieces should be about ½ inch cubes or slices as you prefer.
With a very clean hand and arm, reach to the bottom and gently lift the curds to stir. Cut the large pieces that appear with a table knife so that they are ½ inch cubes.
Let the cut curds sit, with occasional stirring, for 10-15 minutes until curd is somewhat contracted.
Decant off the whey through the strainer lined with the handkerchief, pouring the curds into the handkerchief. Save the whey for a later step.
Let the cheese drain in the handkerchief until no more whey drains out (about 2-4 hours). It may be drained at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Place the drained curds into a bowl. Mix in a 1/2 of a tspn of salt, breaking up the curd.
Press the cheese into a mold. (See the External Links for how to make your own cheese press.) Line the can with a handkerchief, place the curds inside, fold over the ends of the cloth, place the end on top, and place a weight on top of that. Let sit overnight.
Prepare pickling whey brine (12.5% salt): mix 20 oz of whey (saved from before) with 5 tablespoons of salt. Stir to dissolve. The brine must be acidic or else the cheese will melt on the surface. The whey is made acidic by letting it sit out at room temperature, covered, for 12-24 hrs.
Cut the cheese into 1.5 inch cubes and place them in a wide-mouth jar. Pour brine over to cover. Let the cheese pickle for several days in the refrigerator. The cheese will become drier and more easily crumbled with time.
Store in the refrigerator. Rinse before use to remove excess salt.
* If the culture becomes contaminated at any point, the likelihood of contracting food poisoning from the cheese is greatly increased.
* Do not use city tap water to dissolve rennet as it most likely contains chlorine that will make the rennet fail.
Things You'll Need
* 1 long bladed knife
* 2 clean sterile handkerchiefs or cheesecloth
* A cheese mold: Cut the ends out of a smooth-sided 4 x 5 inch tin can, save one of the cut ends.
* table salt
Preparation and Use
Feta is a common ingredient in many Greek dishes, and is eaten both raw, cooked, and grilled. It is a necessary ingredient in the common Greek salad (traditionally composed of tomatoes, cucumber, romaine lettuce, green peppers, red onion, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and a dressing of olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano).
Conserving and Storing
Feta cheese is served best fresh, but if properly stored in milk or salt-water (as a brine solution) it can last up to three months, refrigerated. This cheese can also be frozen, but will be prone to crumbling upon defrosting.
Feta can also be "marinated" in olive oil. For this method, it must be completely covered in the oil, and in an air-tight container. This should not be refrigerated.