FETA Cheese Recipe

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Feta is a salty Greek cheese, usually made with either goat or sheep’s milk. Feta is neither soft nor hard cheese but in-between. It is wonderful crumbled on salads and crackers, and can also be used in cooking.Unlike most cheeses, it is ripened in brine. Feta develops quite a strong flavor and if you like “hardy” cheeses, you must give it a try.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 gallons goat milk – ( use a little over 3 gallons for raw, unpasteurized goat milk)
  • 4 oz. mesophilic culture
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. Kid or Kid/Lamb Lipase powder
  • 1 tsp. Liquid rennet dissolved in 1/2 Cup water
  • Kosher salt
  • Brine: 1/2 Cup Kosher salt per 1/2 gallon of water (boiled and cooled to below room temp.)

In a double boiler pot set up, warm the goat milk to 86°. Add the culture and lipase. Lipase is the enzyme that gives Feta that great Feta flavor.

Stir well and let ripen, covered, for one hour.

Keeping the milk at 86°, Add the rennet and stir briskly for 15 seconds. Cover and let set about 30-40 minutes, or until you get a “clean break”.

You can check for a clean break by sticking your knife, or thermometer, into the curd at an angle. Pull straight up out of the curd; if the curd breaks cleanly around the knife and whey runs into the crack that is made; you have a “clean break.” Once you see this for the first time, you will know just what I mean.

Cut the curd into 1/2″ pieces.

Cutting the curds can be the most confusing part, but just don’t worry so much. Use a long knife held vertically and cut 1/2″ slices in the curds. Then turn the pot 90° and cut across in 1/2″ slices the other direction, making a kind of checkerboard pattern. Now hold the knife at a sideways 45° angle and retrace your cuts. Turn the pot 1/4 turn and retrace the cuts. Turn it again and cut and then one final turn and cut. By the last turn you probably won’t be able to see the original cuts, but just do the best you can. It is alright if think you did not cut the curd perfectly.

Do not stir yet. Let the curds rest for 10 minutes.

After this rest period, stir the curd gently and cut any pieces that you missed when you first cut the curd. Hold the curd at 86° for 45 minutes, carefully stirring occasionally to prevent the curd from sticking together. This process of “cooking” the curd helps the curd “toughen up” as well as release it’s whey.

Place a big colander over a big pot and line the colander with a large piece of dampened cheesecloth. If you dampen the cheesecloth, it will stick slightly to the colander, holding it in place.

Carefully pour the curd into the colander. Tie the corners of the cheesecloth together and hang the bag to drain.

After 3-4 hours, take the cheese down and turn the cheese over in the cheesecloth, from top turned to bottom. This turning will “even up” the cheese into a nice form. Otherwise, it will have a rough form cheese; it is edible, just not so attractive.

Let your cheese hang and continue draining for about 24 hours, at this point it will start to develop a distinctive odor. Inform your family of the odor if you need to.

After your cheese has hung for about 24 hours or so, remove it from the cloth and cut it into usable size cubes (about 2-3 inches). Sprinkle all the sides of the cubes with kosher salt and place them in a sterilized, large, seal-able, container. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 2-3 days to “harden up” the blocks. The blocks will continue to release whey during this time; that is normal.

Transfer the blocks (and their whey if you wish) to a large sterilized glass container. Add the brine. Do not add the brine too soon, the cheese sometimes starts softening up. The cheese is still good; you may just want to use it in cooking instead of for crumbling.

Age for at least I month before use in order to develop flavor. Your Feta cheese will keep in its brine (refrigerated) for a very, very long time ( up to a year), and will only keep getting better (stronger). On occasion, you may find some mold forming on top of the brine. When this happens, just skim it off, the cheese is still fine. If a piece of the cheese was sticking above the brine, it may mold. Just remove it, the rest of the cheese is still good.

Always remember that it takes a lot of milk to make a little cheese. And how much cheese you get will also depend on other factors, like type of milk used, fat content of milk, stage of lactation of the goat that produced the milk, handling of curds, temperatures during cheese making and hang time, just to name a few.

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How To Make Queso Fresco

Grocery & Gourmet Food

Dairy, Cheese & Eggs

Artisan Cheese

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Queso Fresco means Fresh Cheese and is semi-soft cheese. I prefer cheese with lots of flavor, and this Queso Fresco has many variations. Queso Fresco is of Latin American origin. It is lightly pressed and ready to eat in just a few days.

Correct temperatures are very important in cheese making, so ensure to use a good thermometer. The easiest way to control the temperature of the curds is to use a homemade double boiler. Place the cheese making pot into the canning kettle and place on the stove. Fill the canner with water up to the level of the milk in the cheese making pot. Then place a thermometer in the water of the canner as well as the milk. This way you can tell the temperature of the water, which in turn, helps you control the temperature of the milk and curds.

Ingredients:

  • 2 gallons of unpasteurized goat milk

  • 4 oz. mesophilic culture

  • 1/4 tsp. calf lipase powder (mild “piccante”)

  • 1/2 tsp. Liquid rennet dissolved in 1/4 Cup water

  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt .

Bring the milk to 86° and add the mesophilic culture and lipase. Stir well and let set, to ripen, for 1 hour. Add the rennet and stir briskly for 15 seconds. Cover the pot and let the milk set for 45 minutes, or until you get a clean break. Hold the milk at a temperature of 86° for the entire time.

Cut the curds into 1/4″ pieces with a stainless steel knife. This always seem to be the trickiest part of cheese making, but take your time, and don’t worry if all the curds are not cut to exactly 1/4″. After you have cut the curds, do not stir them yet. Let them rest, undisturbed for 10 minutes

Now, you can stir the curds and cut any that you had missed. If you stir the curds with a big wire whisk, this will cut any curds you missed automatically. Raise the temperature of the curds to 95° over the next 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so the curds do not stick together. Let the curds settle for 5 minutes, undisturbed.

Drain the whey from the curds. You can conserve drained whey and use for whey based cheese making like Ricotta. Now, leave the curds in their cheese making pot that is placed inside the canner. Make sure the water in the canner is kept at 95° and this will allow you to hold the curds at a temperature of 95°. Hold the curds at 95° for 10 minutes, stirring with your hand occasionally so that the curds don’t stick together.

After you have held the curds for at 95° for 10 minutes, stir in the salt. At this point in the cheese making you could spice up your cheese by adding some herbs, such as chives, or even minced jalapena peppers, if you’d like.

Line a cheese mold with cheesecloth and add the curds. Press the cheese at 10 pounds for 10 minutes, remove it from the press, flip it over and place it back in the press. Continue pressing at 20 pounds for 1 hours and then raise the weight to 35 pounds for 6 hours.

After it has pressed for six hours, remove the cheese from the mold and let it air dry on a rack overnight. The next day, put it in a ziploc bag or wrap it and refrigerate the cheese for several days before testing. Honestly, it is worth the wait. If you taste the cheese too soon, it may seem “rubbery”. Additionally, the flavor will develops during the short “aging” process. Queso Fresco cheese will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. Previous experience proved that this cheese does not freeze well.

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