How to make your own feta cheese

Feta cheese  is a type of Greek cheese that is pickled or brined. The brining process gives feta cheese its characteristic  salty, tangy flavor and a crumbly consistency.
Feta cheese can be served as a table cheese, used in baking savory dishes usually paired with spinach as a filling for pastry or as a stuffing for chicken, or served as an appetizer or in salads( it is a key ingredient in Greek salad which I will be sharing soon).

I have always bought my Feta cheese until John of From the Bartolini Kitchens posted his recipe for Feta cheese. If you are not familiar with John’s post you are really missing out. John shares authentic Italian recipes that his mother and Zia prepared, each recipe comes with a heart warming story, is beautifully written and his attention to details ensures that you will get the recipe right the first time for sure.

I have made ricotta cheese, homemade yogurt, labneh, Nabulsi cheese and cottage cheese (coming soon) and thought I was ready to take on a new cheese and I am really glad I did. This home made Feta tastes so much better than anything you can buy, its consistency, depth of flavor only get better with time and you can store it in the brine solution in the fridge for months.

Home made Feta cheese

Recipe Source: From the Bartolini kitchens

Ingredients

yield: approx ½ pound

½ gal (64 oz or 2 liters) goat’s milk (cow or sheep’s milk may be used) – ultra-pasteurized goat’s milk cannot be used.

1 tablespoon live culture, plain yogurt mixed in 1 tbsp milk from above (I used homemade yogurt)

¼ rennet tablet dissolved in 3 oz distilled water at room temp

1/2 teaspoon  salt

To make the brining solution

5 1/2 tablespoons of salt for every 20 oz fluid whey

Directions

Warm the milk in a pot with a lid to 30 C or 86 F making sure you stir it occasionally to prevent the bottom from burning

Remove from heat, add yogurt-milk mixture, stir well, cover with the lid, and let sit for 1 hour at room temperature.

Move pot to an area where it will remain undisturbed, add dissolved rennet, stir quickly to ensure even distribution of the rennet then cover the pot, and leave overnight.

The next morning,the cheese should be set into one large block of curd with a little whey separated on the side

Now you have to check for a clean break.

To check for a clean break Stick your finger, on an angle, into the curd and slowly bring the finger to the surface to test for a “clean break,” meaning the curd is firmly set from top to bottom. Your finger should come up relatively clean which means that the cheese has set into one block of curd.

A bad break is when your finger comes out covered in a thickened dairy product, that means that your cheese has not set completely, if that happens you need to leave it for 2 hours and check again. If you still get a bad break give it 2 more hours and check again. If you still get a bad break you have to throw it out and start over

Now that you have achieved a clean break you have to cut the cheese and this step is done to allow as much whey to separate from the cheese as possible

Using a long knief cut parallel lines through the entire thickness of the curd dividing it into vertical slices

Then turn the pot and cut horizontal parallel lines throught the entire thickness of the curd Next take your knife at an angle and repeat cutting horizontal and vertical lines to cut the curds that are beneath the surface, stir the curds gently and cut any cubes that are too big

Allow the curd cubes to set for 15 minutes stirring it occasionally to allow more whey to come out. You will notice that the curds will shrink slightly in size.

Now it is time to strain the cheese, to do that line a colander with a cheesecloth or a clean fabric with fine weave.

Gently pour the curds and whey in and allow it to strain. Do not discard the whey.

Once most of the whey has been strained collect the 4 corners of your cheesecloth and tie them to form a knot that allows you to suspend the cheesecloth then allow it to strain for 2-4 hours.

If you live in a very warm place you may want to allow it to strain in the fridge.

The next day remove the cheese from the cloth,break up the curds add 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Line a mold with holes in the bottom with cheese cloth, place the cheese in, fold over the cheesecloth place a heavey weight on top of the mold and leave overnight, again if you live in a really warm place do this in the fridge

As you can see my cheese was still pretty soft after molding but it firmed up nicely in the brine

Make the brine solution by adding 5½ tablespoons of salt for every 20 fluid ounces of whey and mix it, dissolving as much of the salt as you can.

The next day take the cheese out of the mold and cut into cubes, place in the brine solution and allow to brine in the fridge for 5 days

Store in the refrigerator. Rinse before use to remove excess salt.

NOTES:

The milk: you cannot use ultra-pasteurized milk, alone, to make feta.Your best choice is raw, unpasteurized milk, sheep would be the tastiest.The second best choice is regular pasteurized cow or goat milk. If the only choice you have is ultra-pasteurized cow’s milk, you must add CaCl2 to mask the effects of the ultra-pasteurization process. CaCl2, however will not work with ultra-pasteurized goat’s milk.

What to make with feta cheese?

How about a Greek salad? (recipe coming soon)

or this feta mint tomato salad or salsa?(recipe coming soon)

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85 Comments

  1. I’m quite envious right now Sawsan. Just yesterday I tried making the Mozzarella and failed completely. But I will try again.
    Your feta looks amazing and the salads look mouth watering too. Can hardly wait to see the tomato and mint recipe.

    Reply
    • Hello Eva, I was looking for a way around the cow milk for the mozzarella and John kindly sent me a link yesterday so mozzarella is next on my list
      You should give feta a try, it tasted so much better than the store bought stuff, it is worth the trouble

      Reply
      • I just gave the mozzarella a go and ended up with cream cheese, tasty, but not what I was hoping for. I will try the feta, the good stuff is so expensive here, plus it’s nice to know exactly what goes into it as I don’t always trust the labels!

      • I still need to find the time to make mozzarella. This summer is super busy with friends and relatives. I agree with you on never trusting the labels you never know what they put in there

      • Plus, it’s so cool to make cheese!

  2. wow.. u made feta!! how cool is that?!!? I would really want to give this a shot.. only thing we dont get rennet tablets out here.. but one day.. some day!!!

    Reply
    • hehehe that was my exact reaction the first time I made it…I made feta
      can’t you order the rennet online? it is really fun making cheese and I know you will do a great job with it

      Reply
  3. Honestly is there no cheese you cannot make – absolutely brilliant my friend :)

    Cheers
    CCU

    Reply
  4. Jasline

     /  July 9, 2012

    Amazing! I would have never thought of making feta cheese at home, you’ve certainly got me thinking!

    Reply
  5. I am going to do this in a few days………….thanks so much!

    Reply
  6. Delicious looking feta, Sawsan. If only raw/unpasteurized milk was available to buy in Canada.

    Reply
  7. Fantastic – it was such a great recipe when I first saw it, and it´s great that you´ve tackled it. I am waiting to get hold of some good fresh milk (most of ours is UHT or long life :( )

    Reply
  8. YAY! I’m so glad that you not only make your own feta but that you feel confident enough to document and share the process. You’ve become a rock star in the cheese world, Sawsan!
    Your photography of each step is really quite good and I cannot wait to see your Greek salad recipe. And thank you for the mention of my blog. It was very kind of you and most appreciated.

    Reply
    • I am no rock star John, I am merely a good student taught by a great teacher. All thanks go to you for the inspiration, the great recipes and clear instructions.
      I can’t thank you enough for teaching me how to make all these different cheeses. I even got my parents to try your feta recipe and they have made it several times since

      Reply
  9. I’m so thrilled you shared this recipe – I will be making some this week from my fresh farm milk ration :) Yummy!

    Reply
  10. Ah, yum. I really really need to try some cheese – I bet you can’t even compare the store stuff.

    Reply
  11. Thanks so much for this post Sawsan – you answered many of the questions I was going to write in the comment here, like “could I use raw milk”. How is the final taste… is it similar/better/different in some way to the type you can buy?

    I imagine it must be a wonderfully satisfying thing to make… it’s something I really want to try soon… need to get some rennet tablets. Can’t wait to see your cottage cheese recipe too. Thanks for sharing your wonderful tips here, and I loved the photo of the “clean break”… so cool!

    Reply
    • Hello Charles, I have to say that I was really excited when I tasted the cheese after the 5 days of brining.I called my mum and dad..”I made feta! I made feta!” Lol
      I am really glad you enjoyed the post and found it helpful and if you have any questions when you try the recipe please let me know

      Reply
  12. Anonymous

     /  July 10, 2012

    ANY ALTERNATIVE OF RENNET TABLET AND WHEY?

    Reply
    • You can use rennet drops if you can’t find tablets but I need to check the conversion to tell you the exact amount
      as for the whey it is the liquid you will get from straining the cheese, it is not something you need to buy

      Reply
  13. Great tutorial and great dishes to put the cheese on!!!!!

    Reply
  14. Oh, Sawsan, this is a terrific post. My Macedonian husband would be so happy if I would make homemade feta…You inspire. And thank you for your comment about the chai and for introducing me to the Yemen version. I answered your comment, but don’t know if you will find it. I immediately did some research on Adani (various spellings) as soon as you mentioned it. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hello Victoria, I am really glad you found this post inspiring and I can’t wait to hear how your feta turns out
      I went back and checked your reply and added a few links about adani chai, I hope you will find them helpful

      Reply
  15. you are on a roll my friend with the homemade milk and cheeses, This feta cheese looks incredible

    Reply
  16. I’m always so impressed by John’s cheese making abilities. Now I can add you to my list of those that I admire for this skill too! (Not that I didn’t already – your ricotta is beautiful too!) I did put ricotta on my list of things to try this summer, but the summer is just slipping by so quickly. I will get to it though. I just have to! :) Then perhaps if that goes well, I’ll give the feta a try too. Gorgeous dishes with the feta too Sawsan!

    Reply
    • Thank you kindly Kristy, I am merely a good student. All thanks go to John for the inspiration and the great instructions
      Summer is slipping by fast indeed but if you can squeeze it in I know you and the kids will really enjoy cheese making

      Reply
  17. Eha

     /  July 10, 2012

    Now all I need is a wet weekend and the strength to say that work will wait till the next day and I definitely shall try to get a ‘clean break’ :) ! I love feta, use it in a dozen ways, so thank you for making the process so easy to follow! This is quite fascinating for a gal who usually buys such at the supermarket!

    Reply
    • I can’t wait to hear how it goes Eha, and believe me it is much better than the stuff you buy
      if you need any help or have any questions please let me know

      Reply
  18. WOW! So in awe! This feta looks fantastic and I always, always appreciate your step-by-step photos. They are invaluable!

    Reply
  19. Hi Sawsan I just saw your blog .. It is really amazing and your photos are very clear and extraordinary alive!!! I’ll make sure to check your blog every day. Thanks “sa7ebat Al misk from Lakii “

    Reply
  20. Wow I am impressed, I never tried making one of my own yet but I want to start with cheese curds first.

    Reply
    • I started with ricotta, once you are comfortable with ricotta you can move to cheeses that use rennet. I know you will be in love once you taste homemade cheese for the first time

      Reply
  21. Nami | Just One Cookbook

     /  July 11, 2012

    There is no food that you can’t make and every time you do SO WELL. Seriously, this feta cheese is amazing! Thank you for detail instruction too!

    Reply
  22. wow, you’re so talented… i haven’t forgotten about the nabulsi cheese recipe, but I’m running around too busy to do any cooking :( can’t wait for those salad recipes :)

    Reply
  23. Wow, this is great! I’ve only ever made ricotta.

    Reply
  24. You are amazing!!!! I will definitely try this feta cheese recipe!!! Bravissima!!!

    Reply
  25. Between you and John, I’m beginning to feel like I could make homemade feta…I sure do want to taste it, and your recipes with it look amazing.

    Reply
  26. I am always running out of feta, its the most popular cheese in my house! My husband would love if I learned out to make it as the one I get is very expensive! Thank you for posting, will have to try it out soon!

    Reply
  27. this is just too much fun!
    Thank you again….I am enjoying the lessons you teach!
    Take Care..
    )0(
    ladybluerose

    Reply
  28. An excellent recipe and one that my feta loving husband is going to be very grateful for :)

    Reply
  29. How long will this last in the refrigerator?

    Reply
  30. calin calin

     /  February 28, 2013

    The salt used should be vithout IODINE ?

    Reply
  31. Mash

     /  March 7, 2013

    Assalaam alaikum I love your blog mashaAllah came to read it and got stuck here :) makin feta cheese I’ve got to do this InshaAllah one question on labneh yeah I went there too :) is labneh and laban same I’ve a recipe that says to use laban in fatayar dough and I dont know where to find it

    Reply
  32. Aviva

     /  March 15, 2013

    What is the difference between regular pasteurized and ultra and do you know a source for vegetable rennet? Just a note homemade ricotta amazing and homemade cream cheese OMG will never buy commercial again! Looking forward to trying all the cheeses hope i can find the rennet kosher! Love your blog & recipes. I can hear you talk when i read your blog your passion is wonderful.

    Reply
  33. What a lovely post, Sawsan, you have brought a smile to me and to my children too! It is harder every month to afford the cost of buying food, and the quality deteriorating..
    I love feta and Mediterranean cooking, and I will be starting my garden again soon :)
    I have never made cheese before but your instructions are so simple I can’t wait to begin.
    My daughter Virginia uses quinoa, she will have to teach me, but I found where I can get seeds here in Idaho, and they should do well, summers are long and hot!

    Reply
  34. Anonymous

     /  August 3, 2013

    thanks for the recipe

    Reply
  35. darren aldridge

     /  December 28, 2013

    G`day sawsan.with the rennet tablets.can l use it in the liquid form rennet.and how much would l need to use for making feta cheese.luv your recipes.thx

    Reply
  36. I can’t wait to try making this! Wonderful recipe! :)

    Reply
  37. lizzie

     /  July 14, 2014

    After 5 days in brine do you leave it in the brine or can you then put ii in olive oil to store?

    Reply
  38. Tiffani

     /  July 28, 2014

    Hello! Thanks for sharing! So clear and easy to follow. Quick question, could i skip step the first two steps and in place of that use my homemade milk kefir? So i would pour the rennet directly into the kefir yogurt of the same measurements. Do you think it could work?

    Thank you Chef.

    Reply
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