Cheesemaking · Feta · Goat's Milk Cheeses · Learning from Mistakes

Feta Frustration

At the beginning of this month I made a double batch of Feta.  And I wrote about it here.

I was very excited.  I love Feta.  And making it was nice – it was similar, a bit, to making hard cheese like Cheddar, but shorter.  Not so much pressing and air drying and all that.

Half of the curds were tossed with salt and left in the fridge to cure for about 5 days.

The other half went into a brine and would be soaking in that brine for a month….

Here’s where I unveiled the salted feta.  It was pretty cool.  Very salty if you ate it plain, but it mixed wonderfully in Kale pie and was good on pizza.

We liked the Kale pie so much, I made another 4 of them and froze them.  Plus, we had a lot of kale.

Still do.

So much, that I thought I’d make another kale pie or two some time soon.  And hey!  The brined feta would be ready later this week! 

I had put that bowl of brining feta toward the back of the fridge so no one would take it out and eat the chunks of cheese or accidentally spill it all (of course, I seem to be the only one who dumps and spills things from the fridge, so maybe I was just protecting the cheese from myself).  I hadn’t even peeked at it once. 

So on Saturday, when all these ideas were bubbling in my head, I decided to take a look at the feta and see if maybe the cubes had shrunk, from all the salt in the brine, or who knows what.

So I pulled the bowl out.

And I don’t remember, but it is very possible I gasped in horror.

Because here’s what I saw:

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Yep.  Feta in Brine.  !  .  But…why does it look cloudy?  Maybe some sort of film on top…

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Looks like…like yuck, frankly.

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Oh no.

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Oh NO.

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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

It completely dissolved.

I shouldn’t have brined it.  Moron.  (Me, not you, my lovely reader.)

The book said “Use this method (the brine) only if your goat’s milk comes from a farm; store-bought goat’s milk tends to disintegrate in brine.”

Well, my goat’s milk WAS from a farm.

The small amount of cow’s milk I used to bring the starting quantity up to 2 gallons, however, was not.

And so…my curds dissolved.

Well…lesson learned, right?

No use crying over dissolved feta curds.

Right?

11 thoughts on “Feta Frustration

  1. Oh nooooo!!! I think I would probably cry a little. At least you didn’t have 2 or 3 batches done that way though! Every time I do something that makes me feel stupid at least I know I won’t do it again. Hopefully. 🙂

  2. Oh, I’m sooo sorry! Truthfully, I’d have a good long cry over it. Then I’d cuss and swear, and then a year later I’d try it again and wonder why it took me so long to get back on the horse.
    But that’s me.
    You’re way cooler than that!

  3. Such a disappointment. I’m sorry. Did you use the calcium chloride? I’m wondering if that would help. I’ve also seen several cheese makers recommend a four or five day period of salting large cubes and leaving them on a cheese mat at room or cool temps. As you know, I’m starting a batch of feta today. I think I will use the calcium chloride, since it is used commercially as a firming agent. And I’ll have a few hours to decide about salting and drying.

  4. This is why I don’t try it…. I’m prone to screw up things like this. I did however find a lovely salad using feta… and it’s super simple too. Take watermelon balls or cube, some chopped basil, I like to chiffonade mine, but you can just tear it. Sprinkle the watermelon with the basil and some feta cheese and drizzle with good quality olive oil. Toss and enjoy. It’s so delish that I’ve been having it almost daily. It’s my last grasp at summer.

  5. I did a salted version as well – those were fine. I think next time Ill use the calcium chloride. But also, I had used some store-bought cows milk in the recipe. Im thinking that was really the culprit.

  6. I also like feta crumbled in my panzanella salad! Ripe tomatoes, day old pan Italiano, basil, feta, olive oil, and fresh basil and oregano. And a pinch of sugar, since my grandmother swore that ripe tomatoes needed a pinch of sugar or they didn’t taste right.

  7. I have never commented on your blog before, but I am a regular reader. I just wanted you to know that the exact same thing just happened to me. My co-worker has goats, and every week or two I buy a half gallon of fresh milk from her to make chevre. One week, I purchased a gallon because I wanted to make feta (my daughter’s favorite cheese). I followed the steps in the cheesemaking cookbook, and lovingly placed my feta in brine in the fridge. I then stuck a note on the outside of the fridge that said “Feta in Brine 8/16” so that I would remember when to take it out. I loooked at that note with such anticipation each day, dreaming of what I would do with the wonderful feta. Once the 30 days had passed, I anxiously opened the container of feta and my smile quickly disappeared as I realized that all of my beautiful chunks had “melted” in the brine. Unlike you, though, I did not use any milk other than the farm fresh goat milk, so I’m not sure that your problem was the cow milk. I actually think (after some research) that it has to do with not letting the curds develop properly before adding them to the brine. So, I am going to start over with another gallon of goat milk as soon as I can get it from my co-worker and see if I can make it work this time. Good luck to you if you attempt it again.

  8. What about store bought milk would make it dissolve? Being homogenized? Being pasteurized? It doesn’t make sense to me. Also wondering, how do you develop the curd more? I had this same problem happen to me. Sadness!!

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