Adventures in Cheesmaking

This all started out as a curiosity. Like most stuff we eat there is a rich history behind it. Centuries of experimentation. Cheese is just another example.

From the horse back tribes of the Asian Steppes to the Silk Road camel caravans to Romans Legions to European Monks to today, milk was a great source of nutrition but spoiled quickly and was heavy to transport.

The answer was cheese.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fretting about Fetta

Fetta ready for aging 

Fetta is a unique Greek cheese eaten either as a table cheese or crumbled on a salad. It is unique in that it is aged in brine.

Traditionally Fetta is made with goats milk and that was my intent for this batch.

There are various ways to treat commercial milk. Milk is Pasteurized - that is heated to kill the bacteria in the milk and aid in in it shelf life and food safety. One of these methods is called Ultra Pasteurized or UP or UHT. If the milk has had this treatment it will be listed on the package. The process of UP or UHT  is meant to extend the life of the milk, up to 60 days, and is carried out by heating the milk under high pressure and temperature ( 280F for 2 seconds) vs 167F for 15 seconds for standard pasteurization.

While this UP method does do what it was designed to do it also irreparably damages the protein and calcium structure of the milk that  is required for curd formation. To some degree pasteurized milk curd formation can be enhanced with the addition of calcium chloride but for UP/UHT this is normally not enough.

Now I knew all of this but wanted to make a good Goats Milk table Fetta ready for Thanksgiving. The only goat cheese I could find was at Whole Foods and yes it was UP and yes I bought it and no it would not make a curd.

Lesson - Do Not Use UP or UHT Milk - It will not work
So with that lesson confirmed I decided to make a cow milk Fetta. Thanks to Fias Co Farm for the recipe suggestions. The addition of Lipase is an attempt to get that "goat milk taste"


1 gallon of Whole Organic Cows Milk
1/8 tsp Mesophilic Culture
1/8 tsp Lipase
20 drops Calcium Chloride
20 drops Double Strength Rennet


Heat Milk to 88F
Add Lipase, Calcium Chloride in 1/4 cup water and Mesophilic Starter
Hold and mature for 1 hour
Add Rennet in 1/4 cup water, stir for three minutes and rest for 1 hour
Once a clean break is obtained cut the curds into 1/2 inch pieces
Let curds heal for 10 minutes
Stir gently while maintaining at 88F for 45 minutes
Cut and allow to heal for 10 minutes

After 45 minutes at 88F
Transfer Curds to a colander lined with cheese cloth and then hang curds at room temperature for 3 hours

Hang to drain for 3 hours

Unwrap and invest and rehang for 24 hours at room temperature

Invert so that you will get a better shape

Rehang for 24 hours

Unwrap and ready to be cut

Cut curds into roughly 1 inch pieces. Salt all sides and place in a air tight container at room temp for three days. Curds will continue to loose whey and toughen up. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar or use whey to ensure that the pH is <5. This will ensure that the surface of the cheese does not go soft and slimy.

Salt all sides

Add vinegar or whey to keep pH <5

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