... and he milked the sheep and bleating goats, let half of the white milk coagulate and set it away in tightly woven baskets for settling and firming….
While the name ‘feta’ is a relatively recent change (and probably Italian in origin), the type of cheese now called feta has been made in the Mediterranean for eons. It is mentioned by Homer and other authors of Ancient Greece.
Feta is a brined cheese, made of either a combination of sheep and goat milk, or of cows milk, which is what was used for this project.
We started with two gallons of supermarket milk, which was heated to 110 degrees in a double boiler.
A culturing mixture (to acidify the milk) and calcium chloride (to rectify damage done to the milk during pasteurization) were added and the milk held at around 110 degrees for one hour.
At the end of the hour, the rennet mixture was added to begin the coagulation process, along with lipase powder to give the cheese a tangy flavor reminiscent of goat milk cheese. The mixture was then allowed to set overnight.
The next morning, the curd was cut into small cubes and then drained, with the whey being retained.
Once the curd is sufficiently drained, the curd is salted and then packed into cheesecloth lined molds.
The cheese was then pressed by way of a ‘pusher’, which fits tightly into the mold, and the use of several tightly wrapped bricks.
When the cheese is firm, it is cut into pieces (which may explain the name feta, which may be a variation on the Italian word ‘fetta’ which means slice. The slices are then submerged in brine made from the whey and salt. It is then stored for weeks or months, which draws still more moisture from the curd and gives an even firmer cheese.
The cheese in the brine
The final product
Since these pictures were taken, I have constructed a cheese press in order to more effectively process the curd.
Interesting and/or Useful Web Sites:
Fias Co Farm:
(cheese press instructions)
Fankhauser’s Cheese Page:
New England Cheesemaking Company:
Article on Feta:
Dragon’s Magic – Good source of Cheesecloth – sells at Pennsic:
Linda Learn – PO Box 307 503 SR90 So., Tunkhannock, PA 18657-0307, email@example.com
How to build a Saxon Lyre – includes mention of Casein glue
Theophilus, On Divers Arts. New York, Dover Publications Inc, 1963, 1979 p 26.
Carroll, Ricki, Home Cheesemaking: Recipes for 75 Homemade Cheeses 3rd Edition, Story Books, North Adams MA, 2002
Smith, Tim, Making Artisan Cheese, Quarry Books, Gloucester, MA, 2005
Katz, Sandor Ellix, Wild fermentation : the flavor, nutrition, and craft of live-culture foods, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, White River Jct., VT, 2003
Mont Laurier Benedictine Nuns, Goat Cheese Small Scale, New England Cheesemaking, Ashfield, MA, 1983