Feta cheese is a well-known Greek cheese that has a salty, tangy flavor. It is most frequently served with salads but can be served with other savory dishes as well. Although it is loved most for its unique briny flavor, it is becoming more popular for its nutritional benefits. Whether you buy it from a store or prefer making the cheese at home, add it to your diet to enjoy its nutrients and taste.
What is Feta Cheese Made of?
While some countries make their feta cheese from sheep’s milk, others prefer to mix sheep and goat’s milk. In the US, it is not uncommon to find feta cheese made from cow’s milk. Once made, it is cured in a salty solution until it ages and acquires its tangy taste. Fresh feta cheese is white, holey and has a soft texture that makes it crumble easily.
Health Benefits of Feta Cheese
Feta cheese is a powerful source of calcium, which is a mineral you need for good dental and bone health. It is also known to be high in phosphorus, which helps transport essential nutrients to cells and assists in metabolizing food for energy. Feta cheese also has small amounts of other minerals including manganese, magnesium, selenium, iron and zinc. Because it has a high unsaturated fat content, be sure to consume in moderation.
How to Make Feta Cheese at Home
Although it takes a bit of practice, you can learn how to make feta cheese at home. You will need:
- 1 gallon milk (sheep, goat or mixture)
- 1 tbsp. fresh plain yoghurt
- ½ tablet rennet
In a large stainless steel pot, heat milk until it reaches a temperature of 30 C or 86 F. Stir while heating.
Slowly stir in plain yoghurt and make sure it is well-combined. Remove from heat and allow milk to sit for 1 hour.
Dissolve rennet tablet in a ¼ cup of lukewarm water. Add the rennet to the milk, cover and let it sit overnight.
The next day, the liquid (whey) should start separating from the gel-like solids (curd). With a knife, gently cut the curd in bite-sized pieces, lifting curds to stir.
Allow the curd to sit aside for 15 minutes and strain the mixture through cheese cloth. Pour the whey into a jar and store away for later.
The curds left are those needed to make feta cheese. Add these curds to a bowl and sprinkle about ½ teaspoon of salt. Mold the cheese using a molder or with your hands, and leave to sit overnight.
Measure 20 ounces of whey and combine it with 4-5 tablespoons of salt in a separate bowl. Allow the salty whey to sit for 24 hours and pour it over the feta cheese. Place the cheese in whey in the fridge to pickle for 4-6 days. Serve.
Feta cheese is always a great item to have available in your refrigerator. Its tangy, zesty flavor goes well with a range of dishes and can provide valuable nutrients too. Serve with salads, soups, baked potatoes, quiche, pastas and nachos for delicious meals.