Summer time is salad time. And salad time is feta time. There is nothing better than fresh butter lettuce and tomatoes from the garden, homemade olives and feta cheese. To make your feta cheese a little different to everyone else’s, add some interesting herbs. We sell a wide range of herbs specially treated for cheese. One can make the cheese even more healthy than it already is by adding stinging nettle. Onion is a pre-biotic. That means the sugars found in raw and cooked onion pass through your stomach without being metabolised to the intestines where the natural gut flora feed on it and stay healthy. Our dried onion and chive make a delicious combo for feta. Bruschetta is delicious. And, well, we can go on and on.
Feta is one of the easiest cheeses to make and very well suited to hot climates as it is stored in brine. Its origin goes back to Greece 8000 years ago and the process has not changed much since then. Feta literally means “slice”. However I don’t like to slice the cheese before placing it in the brine. By making the cheese in the H932 moulds, a small whole cheese is formed . By keeping the cheese whole and not slicing it into little pieces you get a much better flavour. The cheese is able to mature far better when kept whole. And while maturing all the delicious flavours are formed. The whey can be stored in the fridge to make Ricotta with but now we are travelling to Italy so that is the subject for another blog.
FINEST KIND KITCHEN FETA CHEESE
|H202B||10 x PH STICKS|
|H932||SMALL CIRCULAR MOULDS, 1 PER LITER|
|H108||FLOATING DAIRY THERMOMETER|
|H10B||FLOATING THERMOMETER COVER|
|H110||BRINE METER ( OPTIONAL)|
|HC50CHN22||CHN 22 DVS STARTER CULTURE|
|H063||LIQUID ANIMAL RENNET|
|H214A||CALCIUM CHLORIDE ( includes instructions)|
|HU09||GARDEN HERB MIX|
|HU231||GREEK HERB MIX|
|HU232||BLACK PEPPER MIX|
|And many more herbs to choose from on our pricelist.|
3.5 – 4% milk at 32°C
Add 2% mesophilic culture
Stir 2 minutes
Set 1 hour
Cut 5 minutes
Stand until ½ curd, ½ whey
Mould until pH 4.6
ADDITION OF STARTER CULTURE AND RENNET
3 liters full cream milk with approx. 3.5% cream. Use milk not more than an hour after milking. If you need to store the milk, make sure you cool the milk as quickly as possible to 4°C and then re-heat to 32°C. Make sure the milk is at 32°C.
Add a teaspoon tip DVS CHN22 culture to the milk and let it stand (pre-ripen) for 1hr at 32°C. Cut one corner of the packet open. Stick it down with sticky tape and store in a plastic container in the freezer.
Add 12 drops (4 drops per liter) liquid rennet, H063 or H066, to a little cool water and add this to the milk.
Let the milk stand, covered, until set like jelly, 45min to 1 hour. The milk should not cool to less than 30°C.
CUTTING THE CURD
Using a knife, cut the curd gently into little cubes the size of a small dice. Cut down and then across and then at an angle. Cut for approx. 3-5 minutes.
Let the curds rest for 2-4 hours or until there are approximately as many curds as there is whey.
The smaller the curd is cut, the drier the feta will be
The longer you let the curd rest, the drier the feta will be.
FILLING THE MOULDS
Pour off the whey. At this stage you can add the herbs and stir them into the curds. There are plenty to choose from. Some interesting ones are the pesto mix and tzatziki mix. Place the curds in circular moulds such as H932. One mould is required for 1 liter of milk. If one is making cheese every day, two moulds are required since the cheese remains in the mould for at least two days. Each mould will result in approx. 150gm cheese.
H922 moulds can also be used, 1 per 10 liters of milk, makes 1.2kg cheese and 3 of these can fit exactly into the H121 bucket.
Fill the moulds to the top with curds. Use one of the moulds to scoop the curds into the moulds. Handle the curds gently. Let the curds drain for 48 hours or until the pH is 4.7 -4.6. Turn the cheese 3 times during the draining period.
The whey should now have a pH of 4.7 – 4.6 (can be tested using the H202A pH measuring sticks). The cheese should not be placed in the brine before the pH is 4.7 -4.6. Rather let the cheese drain for another day or more.
In winter you might have to drain the cheese up to five days before a pH of 4.7 is attained. The cheese can be taken out of the mould after 48 hours or when it is firm enough and kept in the fridge until the correct pH is attained.
SALTING AND MATURING THE CHEESE
Remove the cheese from the mould and place in a 10% brine solution, (see brine method). This can be measured with a H110 brine meter. Mature for 1 to 3 months at 10°C – 12°C. The cheeses should be totally immersed in the brine during the maturation period. The bucket in which the cheeses mature should be filled to the top and should have a fitted lid. H121 food grade buckets are available from Finest Kind.
The cheese will “melt” in the brine if the cheese does not have the correct acidity before it was placed in the brine and if there is no calcium chloride in the brine.
To sell the cheese, remove from the brine and place in a 250ml plastic container (ring lock tub) and cover with a fresh 5% brine solution.
The softer (wetter) the feta, the more salt it will absorb.
Make the brine using less salt if your feta is too salty.
The creamier the milk, the softer (wetter) the feta will be
Make the brine using less salt if your feta is too salty.
Clean all equipment well after use. Rinse in warm water, wash in hot water with a little HD001 orange gel and then soak in a solution of HD013 iodine antibacterial. Air dry. Before use rinse well in clean water and towel dry with a paper towel. Be careful to avoid any anti-bacterial solution residue on the equipment.
FUNCTION OF THE SALT
- The cheese becomes firmer and retains its shape better.
- The cheese is preserved and less susceptible to bacterial infestation.
- The taste of the cheese is improved – the more mature the cheese, the saltier it becomes due to the loss of water.
PREPARATION FOR NEW BRINE
- Use a plastic, enamel or st/steel container.
- Fill the container with the right quantity of water at 12 – 15°C.
- Add salt at the rate
- 20% solution: 2kg per 8-9 liter water e.g. gouda cheese
- 10% solution: 1kg per 8-9 liter water e.g. feta cheese
- 5% solution: .5kg per 8-9 liter water e.g. feta cheese
- Stir well.
- One can control the strength of the brine with the brine meter (H110).
- Now add 150ml Calcium Chloride (H214) per 10 liters brine.
- Measure the pH of the brine with pH sticks (H202A). The correct pH is the pH below the pH of the cheese. For Feta the pH is 4.5. To obtain this pH you can add citric acid until you receive the correct pH.
MAINTENANCE OF BRINE
Brine can be used for years if it is properly maintained.
- Keep the brine at 12-15°C.
- Check the salt content with the brine meter (H110) on a daily basis. It should read 18-20 for a 20% solution for instance. Add salt on a daily basis.
- Measure the pH on a regular basis. Keep the pH at 5 or below.
- Keep the brine clean by lifting out any floating substances like insects.
- Keep the edge of the brine bath clean.
- A clay like substances can collect at the bottom – this is not serious but one can remove this layer by filtering the brine.
- The brine should be clear and will be clear if the salinity and pH is correct.