More Cheese, Please

With all the fun that I had last year entering my cheese at the fair, I was disappointed to find out that I will be out of town for the competition this year. I found out that they have made the categories much clearer, which I liked, and they changed the prizes, which I didn’t. That made me glad that I didn’t have to decide if I wanted to compete again.

Not being part of the competition doesn’t mean that my cheese making is going on the back burner. I’ve been further perfecting my coulommier cheese and a couple weeks ago I tried my hand at a new-to-me variety: feta.

Although the process takes about ten hours – not including aging – only just over an hour of that is hands on time.

I bought goats milk to make this all the more authentic. The first step is to add calcium chloride to the slowly warming milk, and I messed it up right there at step one. A glug of calcium chloride flew into the pot as I was moving to put it away. D’oh!

The nearest goats milk was at least a 25 minute drive away, so I decided adopt my cheese instructor‘s motto, “It’s still cheese,” and I continued.

The steps were all ones I’d done before: heating the milk, adding bacteria and rennet, slicing the curds. I did get to gently stir the curds for 20 straight minutes this time.

Feta Curds

Then I strained, drained and sliced them. The results. A gallon of milk produced one cup of cheese.

Drained Feta

That is a remarkably small ratio, so I’m hoping that was the result of the calcium chloride oopsy. The taste was fantastic raw, probably the result of the yogurt bacteria.

The first recipe I read said to brine the new cheese for 30 days. My cheese bible said that store bought goats milk would dissolve in brine and offered an alternative method: salt the cheese and age in the fridge for 4-5 days.

I cut the ball into cubes and salted using the low end of the salt amount from the recipe.

Feta Finished

Here is the finished product. Unfortunately it is WAY too salty. The low end of salting was for the regular mass that should have happened, so I probably should have cut it in half. At least now I know. It was still edible when mixed into recipes – it salted the dish for me.

I will definitely make this again, and remember to change only one thing at a time to get the best possible result. Let’s start with not letting glugs occur.

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