A Feta Cheese Failure (But Making The Best Of It)

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cream cheese

Last week, I decided I wanted to deal with the recent urge to do some home cheesemaking again after an approximately 4 year hiatus. While I do not have all my cheesemaking supplies and sometimes necessary ingredients for creating additional flavour (lipase specifically), I finally was able to source calcium chloride as well as rennet at a local pharmacy.

And I had 6 litres of pasteurized cow’s milk. For this, I wish I had some lipase but I could not find it close by, but have some on order and awaiting delivery of it. Feta is generally made from sheep or goat milk so if using cow’s milk, a cheese maker might want to add the enzyme lipase to give the resulting cheese a sharper flavour.

After adding the required amount of rennet, I had curd I could cut an hour later – which I was happy about as I don’t have any information about the rennet; the label is all in Greek.

Several days later, I had 6 litres of goat’s milk, two of which were 4% milk fat from a small Greek dairy – and was looking forward to turning this into a feta cheese.

litre of greek goat's milk with 4  percent milk fat

But for some reason I’m not sure of, it did not work out.

What I used for a culture was 1/4 cup of the whey I had strained from the earlier cheese I had made, after bringing the temperature up to about 30C and adding calcium chloride. Then, waited an hour to let the whey culture work on the milk.

Rennet Didn’t Set The Milk

Normally, rennet as long as it is still potent, should begin setting milk in a few minutes, and after 45 to 60 minutes for a feta, you can start cutting curds. Well, this second time, and I am sure I used the correct amount (3/8 teaspoon), I checked after 60 minutes, and the milk had not set at all! I know the rennet is fine; it worked two days before, out of the same bottle, which is kept in the fridge.

I wasn’t really sure what I should do to get something useful, but decided to see what would happen with more time. It was about 30-45 minutes later, I checked again, and no change, but the temperature had dropped too much. So, I put the heat back on medium-low, then got busy with some other things and forgot about the cheesemaking.

A few hours later, I realized I had not checked it in some time! This time, I could see that the milk had now set into a yogurt like consistency – nothing that I could cut curds with, however. But I could strain it, so I plopped the big mass into a colander lined with cloth. Sure enough, I had whey dripping into the pot below the colander The next day, I hung the cloth with the “cheese” for a couple of days, after adding some salt.

The taste is very interesting. It has a bit of a tang, but also a sweetness that comes along after. I possibly may have been able to press it in a mold but I didn’t try that. I think it will be good as a spreadable almost cream cheese.

My companion adores the taste of it, but I’m not sure if I could repeat this mistake, because I’m not sure why the milk did not set as intended after adding rennet.

It is possible that I made a mistake and didn’t add as much rennet as I thought I had, but am quite confident I did. But I can get distracted at times, so it is a possibility.

But regardless, for now we have a big tub of a great tasting spreadable cheese, that will definitely be consumed within days!

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