I like to eat local foods as much as possible. While that is fairly easy in the Portland area, along about February, I begin to tire of beets and sunchokes and yearn for fresh-tasting greens. Once those greens appear in the market, it makes me think of fresh cheese. And what better cheese to go with a salad of spring kale and dandelion greens than goat's milk feta!
In Oregon, raw goat's milk can be sold retail. If you can't find raw goat's milk, try Trader Joe's for pasteurized goat's milk. Avoid that purple carton or the dreaded can of ultra-pasteurized goat milk. It won't make good cheese.
Here's what you need to make a delicious batch of fresh goat feta:
- 2-4 quarts raw or pasteurized goat milk
- 1 packet flora danica cheese starter
- ½ rennet tablet
- 1-2 tablespoons sea salt or other non-iodized salt
Here's how I did it:
#1.In a stainless steel pot, over low heat, heat milk to 86ºF. Once the temperature reaches 86ºF, remove the pot from the burner.
#2.Sprinkle the flora danica starter over the surface of the milk. Give it a few seconds to saturate, then stir in the powder completely and thoroughly. Put the lid on the pot and set aside for 1 hour.
#3. Dilute the ½ rennet tablet in ½ cup cool, unchlorinated water. Leave it to dissolve while the milk and starter are ripening.
#4.After 1 hour, swish the rennet tablet around for a few seconds to make sure it is completely dissolved. Pour the rennet solution into the milk. Mix it in using a gentle up-and-down motion for 2 full minutes to mix the rennet in completely.
#5. Cover the pot again and let it set for another hour at 86ºF. If your kitchen is not that warm, try a seedling mat for extra warmth. I set the pot on top of 2 canning lid rings and covered it with a towel, for more even heat.
#6.After 1 hour, you should notice a definite separation of curds and whey.
Cut the curds into ½-inch cubes. Make sure your knife goes all the way to the bottom of the pot. Cut in a checkerboard pattern, then cut at a diagonal to that your curds are relatively the same size.
#7.Stir the curds for about 15 minutes. Be gentle to avoid breaking up the curd pieces too much.
#8. Pour the curds into a colander lined with a cheesecloth. (Make sure to save the whey for other recipes!) Gather up the corners and edges of the cheesecloth and tie them into a bag. Hang the bag from a cabinet handle or spoon handle hung over a deep pot or bowl. Let the cheese drain for 5-7 hours, depending on how dry you prefer your feta. It's ok to test it out at 5 hours.
#9.Once your feta has drained completely, untie the bag. Cut the feta into cubes and sprinkle with salt to taste. Refrigerate in a covered container for a few days, to let the flavor develop.
It's that easy! And the result is so rich and fresh-tasting, it's perfect for a spring salad or as an appetizer with olives. Enjoy!