Learn to make this homemade feta cheese recipe if you’re just getting started with home cheesemaking. With only a few ingredients, feta is an simple cheese to make that doesn’t require any special equipment (like a cheese press)! Here’s a step by step tutorial that any newbie cheese maker can succeed with – enjoy homemade feta cheese tonight.
Homemade Feta Cheese
The idea of home cheese production seemed completely foreign to me a few years ago. These days I look back and wonder why I was so nervous – it’s just cheese, apparently.
Here are some things to know about feta before you begin:
- Soft cheeses like feta are usually the easiest to make simply because they don’t require any “special” equipment like a cheese press.
- If you’re looking for an easy raw cheese to make, feta is a good choice since it is traditionally a raw milk cheese. You may also use pasteurized milk. Do not use ultra-pasteurized or high temperatu
- The flavor of feta is best with goat milk, in my opinion, but cow milk will also work.
The following recipe was inspired by Ricki Carroll’s Home Cheese Making, which is a very good book for the beginning or seasoned cheese maker.
Another fabulous book for cheese makers is Natural Cheesemaking, by David Asher. This is actually the book I use the most now.
>>>—For a review of this book, click here. —<<<<
How to Make Feta Cheese
Since I can’t be there in your kitchen with you while you make your homemade feta, here’s a short video to show you the basic steps. See, not intimidating at all! Afterwards, there’s the recipe and a photo tutorial with a little more detail. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.
- 1 Gallon Whole Raw Milk; may use pasteurized goat milk
- 1/4 tsp. Lipase Powder diluted in 1/4 cup water and allowed to sit for 20 minutes (This step is optional, but it's suggested you use lipase if making this recipe with milk other than goat’s milk.)
- 2 oz. Mesophilic Starter (I recommend Cultures for Health)
- 1/2 tsp. Liquid Rennet (or 1/4 rennet tablet diluted in 1/4 cup cool, unchlorinated water)
- 3 tsp. Sea Salt
- 1/4-1/3 Cup Cheese or Sea Salt for brine (optional) - brining gives it a stronger flavor, which is what makes feta distinct.
- 1/2 Gallon Water for brine (optional)
- Combine the milk and the diluted lipase, if using. Heat the milk to 86°F/30°C.
- Add the starter, stirring to combine. Cover and allow the milk to ripen for 1 hour.
- Add the diluted rennet and gently stir with an up-and-down motion for several minutes. Cover and allow to set at 86°F/30°C for 1 hour.*
- Cut the curd into 1/2-1-inch cubes and allow to set undisturbed for 10 minutes.
- Gently stir the curds for 20 minutes.
- Pour the curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth.
- Tie the corners of the cheesecloth into a knot and hang the bag over the sink to drain for 4 hours or more.
- Untie the bag and cut the curd into 1-inch slices, then cut the slices into 1-inch cubes.
- Sprinkle the cubes with the 3 teaspoons of sea salt to taste and then place in a covered bowl to age for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Omit this step if you will brine the feta.
- For that strong feta flavor, make a brine solution by combining 1/3 cup of salt and the water. Place the cheese in the brine solution and store in refrigerator for up to 30 days.**
- If the curds are not setting firmly enough for you to cut easily, next time add 1/8 tsp. calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup water to the milk before adding the starter.
*You can set your pot into a hot water bath in your sink and monitor the temperature a couple of times in the hour to make sure it stays close to 86°F/30°C. Don't worry if it falls below; just add some warm water to the bath. I use my hot box insulated bags to keep an even temperature.
Do not use ultra-pasteurized or high temperature pasteurized milk to make cheese.
If using vegetable rennet, you may need to double or even triple the amount used as veggie rennets aren't quite as strong as animal rennets. You may need to experiment if your curds don't set as well as you'd like. Be sure to always use fresh rennet.
You may hang the feta for more or less time, depending on the temperature in your house and how sharp you like your feta.
Remember to put a bowl underneath to catch the whey that strains out. Gently massage and/or knead the feta every now and then to encourage more whey to drain out.
**Brine your feta only if your goat’s milk comes from a farm; store-bought goat’s milk tends to disintegrate in brine.
Instructions for Making Feta – First Steps
- Combine the milk and the diluted lipase, if desired for stronger flavor. Heat the milk to 86°F/30°C.
2. Add the starter, stirring to combine. Cover and allow to the milk to ripen for 1 hour.
3. Add the diluted rennet and gently stir with an up-and-down motion for several minutes. Cover and allow to set at 86°F/30°C for 1 hour. You can set your pot into a hot water bath in your sink and monitor the temperature a couple of times in the hour to make sure it stays close to 86°F/30°C. Don’t worry too much if it falls below; just add some warm water to the bath. I use my hot box insulated bags to keep an even temperature.
4. Cut the curd into 1/2-1 inch cubes.
5. Allow to set undisturbed for 10 minutes.
6. Gently stir the curds for 20 minutes.
7. Pour the curds into a colander lined with cheesecloth.
Homemade Feta Cheese – Last Steps
1 Tie the corners of the cheesecloth into a knot, and hang the bag over the sink to drain for 4 hours or more. You may hang it for more or less time, depending on the temperature in your house, and how sharp you like your feta. Remember to put a bowl underneath to catch the whey that strains out. Gently massage and/or knead the feta every now and then to encourage more whey to drain out.
2. Untie the bag and cut the curd into 1-inch slices, then cut the slices into 1-inch cubes.
3. Sprinkle the cubes with the 3 teaspoons of sea salt to taste and then place in a covered bowl to age for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. If you’re going to brine the feta, omit this step.
4. If the curds are not setting firmly enough for you to cut easily: next time add 1/8 tsp. calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup water diluted calcium chloride to the milk before adding the starter.
To Make Feta Cheese Brine
For a traditionally strong feta flavor, make a brine solution if you are using raw milk:
- Combine 1/3 cup of sea salt and the water.
- Place the cheese in the brine solution and store in refrigerator for 30 days.
- Use this method only if your goat’s milk comes from a farm or your backyard; store-bought goat’s milk tend to disintegrate in brine.
- An ideal container is one that keeps the cheese submerged in brine and has its own lid. Glass is better than plastic.
Store bought goat milk can loose texture when brined, so I only advise you brine with raw milk. However, you can test a bit of a store bought batch and see what happens for you.
Common Questions About Making Feta Cheese
Why Didn’t My Curds Set?
Cheese making is a process that takes time to master, so don’t worry if you end up with less than perfect cheese the first few times. Here are a few things to change up the next time you make feta cheese, if you’ve had spotty results:
Was your cheese vat (the pot the milk is in) kept at an even temperature during the fermentation stage? This is where I used to mess up a lot!
A change in milk temperature up or down can cause a cheese batch to fail at this stage. Using an insulating container will help you fix this problem. Here are some ideas you can try:
- Ice chest filled with a blanket or towels
- Grocery insulated (cold) bag
- Hot box cooker
- Blankets and towels wrapped around the vat in a warm corner of the kitchen
- Hot water bath in the kitchen sink
Learn more about troubleshooting homemade cheese from Cultures for Health. I also recommend them for purchasing cultures and rennet. Their products and their educational material are excellent!
More Troubleshooting on Curd Set?
If your curds don’t set, you can try using a little more rennet and letting the batch sit just a little bit longer. You can increase rennet amounts by about 1/8 of a tsp. in as much water.
You’ll know that your curds are setting up well and will break properly when they start to pull away from the sides of the pan a bit. You’ll also start seeing whey pooling around the surface and at the sides.
You can let your vat culture overnight, if you need to in order to get proper gel and set of the curds.
It’s also possible there isn’t enough calcium in the milk, which can sometimes happen with goat milk. To fix that, you can add some calcium chloride diluted in an equal amount of water to your milk vat before you start heating it.
About 1/4 tsp should be good to start. Make sure you’re using unchlorinated water with both the rennet and the calcium because the chlorine the add to city water can affect results.
What Kind of Milk is Used to Make Feta Cheese?
Feta is traditionally a goat milk cheese. However, it is also well suited to cow and sheep milk.
I like the flavor best with goat milk but cheese is cheese and it’s delicious either way!
How Long Does Feta Last in the Fridge?
Blocks of feta in an air tight container will last from one to two weeks in the fridge. If you submerge feta into brine, it will last upwards of a month. After a month, the flavor continues to sharpen past where you might want to eat it even if the cheese is still technically un-spoiled.
You may also store feta in olive oil in the fridge for one to two weeks. Keto-eaters may especially appreciate the extra flavor and healthy fat dimension this adds to homemade feta cheese.
Can Feta Cheese Be Made Without Rennet?
No, feta is a cheese which requires rennet to set up in the familiar crumbly blocks associated with this cheese. You may use vegetable rennet to make the cheese, if you object to using animal rennet.
Be aware that vegetable rennet aren’t usually as strong as animal rennet, so you may need to use double or even triple the amount per batch. You’ll need to experiment.
The good news is that vegetable rennet is particularly suited to non-aged cheeses like feta. Cultures for Health can teach you how to make your own vegetable rennet from nettles.
Can I Use Vinegar Instead of Rennet to Make Feta Cheese?
No, but you can use vinegar to make a different kind of cheese called paneer! Paneer is traditionally coagulated with lemon juice but vinegar is a common substitute.
Paneer comes to use from the delicious realms of Indian cuisine and it is a delightful cheese to make at home! Learn to make paneer, plus several other dairy products in our
What is in the Brine for Feta Cheese?
Water and sea salt. You may also use kosher salt.
What is Feta Cheese Good With?
Anything! It makes a lovely addition to salads, breakfast eggs, breads, and even savory desserts.
How will you eat your homemade feta?!
Homemade Feta Cheese Resources
Here are a few ideas for using your homemade feta cheese, either as an ingredient or an add-on to a great recipe.