Saturday, October 23, 2010

failed feta

It appears I overreached on this one.  Overnight, the feta failed to gel and no break was ever made.  This can be for one of 6 reasons:

  1. Good quality fresh milk (if it has started to turn or has a high bacterial count, it can interfere with lactic bacteria)
  2. Active bacterial starter, correct proportions mixed in thoroughly
  3. Proper incubation with the starter to slightly acidify the milk.
  4. NOT over acidified. This would cause it to slightly clabber (thicken).  Even slightly clabbered milk will never yield a clean break.
  5. Active rennet, correct proportions, mixed in thoroughly
  6. Correct time and temp for coagulation, undisturbed
    This failure likely occured because of a problem using the starter.  I have been trying to make my batches too small so finding the correct proportions of yogurt to mix nin to innoculate the milk was difficult.  I shalltry to make yogurt first to see if I can do that successfully, then use it to make a larger batch of feta.

    Also, the making proces takes 2 days, not 1, before brining.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Feta, round 1

INgredient were incredibly difficult to find.  Rennet had to vegetable rennet for the first round, found at Park Natural food store in Cobble Hill.  sheep milk was unavailable so Goat' milk will be used for the first round.  Salt will be daunting so I'm going to start with Kosher iodized salt.  Yogurt to inoculate the milk was the first variable to be manipulated.  One batch has greek fage yogurt, the other stonyfield farms plain yogurt.  Both are whole milk.

lets see what happens

Monday, October 11, 2010

Feta - guidelines, instructions and variables

I've decided to start with Feta as my first experiment as it si easy, requires little to no aging and I've always enjoyed it somewhat.  Feta came from Crete, so I should start with their method of making it for my first round of attempts.  In each attempt at a cheese I will make two batches, both controlling all variables in their creation except one.  It is only this way I can compare side by side and find out what methods may taste best.


Feta has 4 main ingredients and one process.  Each of these may therefore be manipulated until I can come out with the best feta.


Brining time.

Feta is made either with Goat's or Sheep's milk, but ahs in recent years been made with cow's milk.  I will start with Sheep or Goat (or a mix, mostly sheep's) before I become sacriligeous with my feta and use cow's milk. 

Rennet is an enzyme found in mammalian stomachs, and has traditionally been taken out by a freshly slaughtered animal as fast as possible.  Though modern methods are changing this.  If rennet can come from the stomach of any mammal things can get very ridiculous very quickly.  Baby Beluga rennet?  It seems most animal rennet comes from calves, though this seems an odd practice for Cretian cheese.  If they were using sheeps milk, it would stand to reason they would also use lamb Rennet.  Finding this will undoubtedly be incredibly difficult, especially in New York City.  Luckily, there are enough farmers from pennsylvania who come to the city to sell their wares at the greenmarkets.  Without a doubt, one of them sells lamb to a slaughterhouse for their product.  I also just learned Redco foods sells rennet in tabs and they are located in Windsor CT!
there is also a vegetable rennet, I will experiment with them all.

Yogurt:  to be as authentic as can be it would seem I should make my own yogurt, but I shall abstain at first.  I will probably eperiment with both plain dannon-style yogurt and more "traditional" fage greek style yogurt.

Salt seems pretty straightforward, except as with all things once you go deeper it becomes more complicated.  it looks like from a quick wiki search there are over 30 types of edible salt:






G cont.








  • a very silly thing indeed, and I will not likely experiment with them all.  but more research into  the types of edible salt may yield interesting findings.
Brining time is the last variable to be controlled for.  It seems like Feta should be brined for at least a week, but can be done for longer.  A look at this years results from the world championship of cheese in the feta category it looks like some entries were brined for as long as 2 months, but the two long brined varieties (55 and 60 days) fared the worst.

So what the fuck now?  I will try and make the first two batches as authentic as possible, with only 1 change between the two.

Ingedient list:
Sheep and/or Goats milk
lamb Rennet
sea salt
fage greek yogurt

New York City cheesemaking

So...I have decided to start making cheese.  It has occurred to me I live in the nation's largest and the world's second largest city, but that for some reason doesn't seem to matter.  This will be a place to keep record of the experiments to ensue, one that cannot get lost.