If you like Meditteranean and Greek food as much as we do buying feta cheese for salads and other preparations in India digs a deep hole in the pocket and one is tempted to use it very sparingly when the only way to eat it is liberally.
I love a watermelon salad with feta especially in these horrifyingly hot days of summer.
The last feta I bought was half used and then got lost in the fridge for some days. When it was brought forth it had melted into a pathetic slurry.
I was emboldened to try making feta cheese when I saw that goats milk is not strictly necessary and that cows milk would do just fine. With rennet and culture now available through Essdee Marketing it seemed possible.
So I bought 2 litres of pasteurized Standard cows milk. Raw milk is better as the calcium required for curdling survives. But no matter, even without it was fine . I added one tablet of Shelcal 500mg , powdered, but if you have calcium chloride add some of that to make up for the calcium lost during pasteurization.
Started by washing the pans thoroughly and setting the jars, lids, spoons and utensils to boil in a large pan. Sterilise by boiling for 15 minutes. Then kept it all covered tightly.
In a large pan heat the pasteurized milk to blood heat. "Kosa" as we say. ( test by dipping your little finger in the milk and count to ten. The finger should not burn but stay comfortable) If you have a thermomenter heat to 37 degrees C
Take an envelope of culture and stir it into the milk throroughly.Turn off the heat and pour into a deep glass dish. Let this stand for 40 minutes. Now mix ten drops of the rennet into a 1/4 cup of water. Pour this mixture lightly over the milk and mix with deep stabbing motions with a stainless steel spatula or wide knife going right to the bottom of the dish. Do this slowly over the entire area. Cover and let it stand for 1-3 hours.When the whey has clearly seperated from the curds and the latter are quite firm its ready to work on.
Pour off the whey and reserve. Cut the curds in lines from top to bottom and left to right, as if making cubes, to release more whey. Line a strainer or large paneer maker with fine muslin and transfer the curds to drain further. After another hour hang the curds up over a dish and let stand for a few more hours.
Making the Brine
Fill the whey into glass jars. For each 500 ml of whey add 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Let the salt dissolve.
Cut the drained curds into cubes and lower them gently into the jar of brine. Cover and keep refrigerated for 4 days - 1 week before using. The cheese will taste even better after 4 weeks as it it will get a stronger flavour and become crumblier as it ages.
I got about 300 gms of cheese from 2 litres.
If any whey is leftover keep it for making gjetost, a Norwegian creamy, caramelised cheese.( It probably only worth making if you are using 5 litres of milk as part of the whey goes towards the brine for the feta.) Small amounts of whey added to atta makes great soft chapathis by the way. :) It also works well in bread dough.