How to Make Feta Cheese From Scratch with Cow or Goat Milk

by Kaitlynn Fenley

Savor the rich, creamy texture of homemade feta. Learn how to make feta cheese from scratch. Aged to tangy perfection, it’s a delightful addition to salads, pastas, and your favorite dishes.

How to Make Feta Cheese From Scratch

Welcome to the delightful world of cheese-making! In this blog, you’ll learn how to make feta cheese, renowned for its creamy texture and tangy flavor.

Feta, a staple in Greek cuisine, has captivated palates across the globe with its unique taste and versatility. This crumbly yet creamy cheese offers a taste of Mediterranean luxury in every bite.

Making feta at home combines simplicity with the joys of crafting something from scratch. Each step in how to make feta cheese contributes to the cheese’s character and flavor profile, from salting the curd to aging it in brine.

The detailed recipe is below. But making feta cheese at home can be summarized in a few easy steps:

  1. Heating and adding lipase
  2. Adding the starter culture, then resting
  3. Adding the rennet, then resting
  4. Cutting the curd
  5. Straining
  6. Salting and aging
  7. Brine and age

What Kind of Milk Is Used in Feta Cheese?

Learning how to make feta cheese starts with high-quality milk. You can make Feta cheese with different types of milk, each lending its unique characteristics to the final product:

Sheep’s Milk Feta: Traditional feta cheese, especially those made in Greece, is predominantly made from sheep’s milk or a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk. Sheep’s milk gives feta a creamier texture and a slightly grassy or “sheepy” flavor. Bulgarian feta, for instance, is made from sheep’s milk and is known for its creaminess, with varying levels of saltiness and a yeasty, tangy finish.​

Goat’s Milk Feta: Per traditional standards, authentic feta must consist of at least 70% sheep’s milk but can contain up to 30% goat’s milk. Goat’s milk contributes to the tangy flavor profile of feta cheese. This combination is a standard for genuine feta, produced according to specific guidelines.​

Cow’s Milk Feta: In many regions, particularly in the United States, people use cow’s milk to make feta. This variation is more accessible since high-quality cow’s milk is more readily available in supermarkets than goat or sheep milk. American feta can be made with sheep, goat, or cow’s milk (or a mixture of all these). I use low-temp, pasteurized, non-homogenized cow’s milk to make my feta, and it’s delightful. 

These variations in the type of milk used influence the taste and texture of feta cheese and its authenticity, especially when considering traditional Greek standards. Each type of milk brings unique properties to the cheese, making your choice of milk a significant factor in the final cheese flavor.

How to Make Feta Cheese with Cow Milk

First, heat one gallon of milk over low heat to 86° F (30° C). While waiting for your milk to heat, add 1/2 teaspoon lipase to 1/4 cup filtered water and stir to dissolve. When the milk reaches 86° F (30° C), turn off the heat and gently stir in the lipase mixture; stir for 30 seconds.

After you’ve added the lipase, sprinkle one packet of feta cheese cultures over the top of the milk, then gently stir the cultures into the milk for 1 minute. Place a lid on the pot, then wrap the pot in a warm towel or blanket to maintain a warm temperature. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, dilute 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet in 2 tablespoons of filtered water. Then, add the diluted rennet to the milk mixture and stir gently up and down for no more than 30 seconds. Place the lid back on the pot and then wrap the pot in a warm towel or blanket to maintain a warm temperature. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 1 hour.

Check for a Clean Break and Cut the Curds

After 1 hour, check for a clean break— slice the curd once and pull it back with the knife. You should see whey fill the crack and your knife should be clean. If you do not have a clean break, let it sit for 30 more minutes, then check again.
Once you have a clean break, cut the curd into 1/2-inch cubes, then let them heal for five minutes.

Gently and slowly stir the curds through for five minutes, then rest for 20 minutes. Then repeat once more (stir gently for 5 minutes, rest for 20 minutes).

Line a colander with butter muslin, ensuring you have enough cloth to tie. Gently drain the curds into the colander (place a large pot under the colander if you plan to reserve the whey).

Tie the butter muslin with the cheese curds inside to make a pouch. Hang the pouch of cheese to drain for 16 hours.

After hanging the cheese

The next day, (with clean hands) unwrap the cheese from the cloth and cut it into cubes. Go ahead and place a clean colander over a bowl and drape the butter muslin over the colander. Gently toss the cheese in 15 grams of sea salt, coating all the cheese in salt. Place the salted cheese cubes in the butter muslin-lined colander. Fold the cloth over the cheese and place it in the fridge to drain and age for 72 hours.


After 72 hours, make the herbed 8% salt brine— in a pot, heat 550 milliliters of water, 50 milliliters lemon juice, and 50 grams of sea salt. Bring to a boil. While boiling, add the optional herbs. The amount is up to you; the more you add, the stronger the flavor. Adding some herbaceous flavor to the cheese doesn’t take much, so start small. After adding the herbs, simmer for about 10 minutes.

Allow the brine to cool completely to room temperature. Take the cheese from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. The cheese and brine must be at the same temperature. Add the cheese to a quart mason jar and pour the brine over the cheese so it’s completely covered. Put lids on the jars and age them in the fridge for 24-72 hours before enjoying.

How to Make Feta Cheese with Goat Milk

I have great news for you if you’re wondering how to make feta cheese with goat milk. You follow the exact directions to make feta cheese with goat milk! You can also try a mix of goat and cow milk, which I often make.

How Healthy is Feta Cheese?

Feta cheese offers several health benefits:

  1. Rich in Nutrients: Feta cheese is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and B vitamins, which are essential for bone health, energy metabolism, and various bodily functions.
  2. Probiotics: This homemade variety of feta contains probiotics, beneficial bacteria that can promote gut health. These probiotics can aid in digestion and improve gut flora.
  3. Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA): Feta contains conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fatty acid linked to various health benefits.
  4. Bone Health: The high calcium content in feta is excellent for maintaining strong bones and teeth. It also contains phosphorus, which works with calcium to enhance bone health.
  5. Source of Protein: Feta provides a good amount of protein, essential for muscle maintenance, repair, and overall body function.
  6. Contains Beneficial Fats: Although feta has a lower fat content, the fats it incorporates are primarily saturated and monounsaturated, which can be beneficial.

It’s important to note that while feta cheese offers these health benefits, it is also high in sodium and should be consumed in moderation. As with any food, the key to gaining the most health benefits lies in consuming it as part of a balanced diet.

homemade feta cheese in a glass jar, filled with brine.

Starter Cultures and Supplies

You’ll need some specialty ingredients to make excellent feta cheese at home. You can order most of these from Cultures For Health (linked) and use code CULTUREDGURU15x for 15% off.

The Best Milk For Making Feta Cheese

Fresh milk from a local, trusted farm in your area is always the best to use in fermentation. I know that can sometimes be hard to get a hold of, so rest assured that store-bought milk works great.

Make sure it’s high quality, organic, non-homogenized and from grass-fed animals. While it is possible to use homogenized milk, I do not recommend it.

Here is the list of milk brands I can easily find in my area (Louisiana) that I love to use:

  • Kalona SuperNatural
  • Feliciana Creamery

More Fermented Dairy Recipes

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How to Make Feta Cheese From Scratch with Cow or Goat Milk

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Savor the rich, creamy texture of homemade feta. Learn how to make feta cheese from scratch. Aged to tangy perfection, it’s a delightful addition to salads, pastas, and your favorite dishes.

  • Author: Kaitlynn Fenley
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Fermentaiton Time: 4 days
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 99 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 quart
  • Category: Cheese
  • Method: Fermentation

Ingredients

Optional Brine Ingredients

  • Peppercorns
  • rosemary
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Basil
  • thyme
  • Minced garlic

Instructions

  1. You will see a lot of gently stir directions in this recipe, that means stir slowly and avoid making bubbles.
  2. Heat one gallon of milk over low heat to 86° F (30° C).
  3. While waiting for your milk to heat, add 1/2 teaspoon lipase to 1/4 cup filtered water, stir to dissolve.
  4. When the milk reaches 86° F (30° C) turn off the heat, and gently stir in the lipase mixture; stir for 30 seconds.
  5. Sprinkle 1 packet of feta cheese cultures over the top of the milk, then gently stir the cultures into the milk for 1 minute.
  6. Place a lid on the pot then wrap the pot in a warm towel or blanket to maintain a warm temperature. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 2 hours.
  7. After 2 hours, dilute 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet in 2 tablespoons of filtered water.
  8. Add the diluted rennet to the milk mixture and stir with a very gentle up and down motion for no more than 30 seconds.
  9. Place the lid back on the pot and then wrap the pot in a warm towel or blanket to maintain a warm temperature.
  10. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 1 hour.
  11. After 1 hour, check for a clean break— slice the curd once and pull it back a little with the knife. You should see whey fill the crack and your knife should be clean. If you do not have a clean break yet, let it sit for 30 more minutes then check again.
  12. Cut the curd into 1/2 inch cubes, then let them heal for five minutes.
  13. Gently and slowly, stir the curds all the way through for five minutes, then rest for 20 minutes. Then repeat once more (stir gently for 5 minutes, rest for 20 minutes).
  14. Line a colander with butter muslin, making sure you have enough cloth draped to tie the ends together. Gently drain the curds into the cloth lined colander (place a large pot under the colander to reserve the whey, you will need it to make the brine).
  15. Tie the butter muslin with the cheese curds inside to make a pouch. Hang the pouch of cheese to drain for 16 hours.
  16. The next day, (with clean hands) unwrap the cheese from the cloth and cut it into cubes. Go ahead and place a clean colander over a bowl and drape the butter muslin over the colander.
  17. Gently toss the cheese in 15 grams of sea salt, coating all the cheese in salt.
  18. Place the salted cheese cubes in the butter muslin lined colander. Fold the cloth over the cheese and place it in the fridge to drain and age for 72 hours.
  19. After 72 hours, make the 8% salt brine— in a pot, heat 550 milliliters of whey, 50 milliliters lemon juice, and 50 grams of sea salt. Bring to a boil.
  20. While boiling add the optional herbs. The amount is up to you, the more you add the stronger the flavor. It doesn’t take much to add some herbaceous flavor to the cheese, so start small. After adding the herbs simmer for about 10 minutes.
  21. Allow the brine to cool completely to room temperature.
  22. Take the cheese out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. The cheese and brine must be the same temperature.
  23. Add the cheese to a quart mason jar and pour the brine over the cheese so it’s completely covered.
  24. Put a lid on the jar and place it in the fridge for 24 hours before enjoying it.
  25. Keep the cheese in the brine and keep it refrigerated.

Notes

  • You can use store-bought milk or farm-fresh milk. If using store-bought, use 2% or whole milk that is low-temp pasteurized, and non-homogenized. While it is possible to use homogenized milk I do not recommend it. I use Kalona Supernatural brand milk.
  • You can also use fresh raw milk in this recipe, but if you do, you should age the cheese in the brine in the fridge for about 2 months before eating.
  • Use cow, goat, or sheep milk in this recipe. A mix of milk works great too.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a 5-star review below if you loved it! Tag @cultured.guru on Instagram

 

Nutrition information is auto-calculated and estimated as close as possible. We are not responsible for any errors. We have tested the recipe for accuracy, but your results may vary. We are not liable for any damages caused by your use of this content.

author avatar
Kaitlynn Fenley Author, Educator, Food Microbiologist
Kaitlynn is a food microbiologist and fermentation expert teaching people how to ferment foods and drinks at home.

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6 comments

Tabitha February 26, 2024 - 8:33 pm

I made this recipe this past week.
It’s a no fail recipe, just like the rest of her recipes. Love them all!
The flavor is amazing before brining. It’s now sitting in the brine and I can’t wait to try!!

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley February 27, 2024 - 11:13 am

yay! so glad you liked the recipe!

Reply
Jenny May 10, 2024 - 9:41 am

Looks amazing I want to try it! Will raw milk work the same in this recipe? And instead of the butter muslin to drain, would a yogurt strainer container work ok?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley May 10, 2024 - 10:31 am

yes! Raw milk will work, you just need to age it a little longer. Check the notes at the bottom of the recipe for details. And I think a yogurt strainer should work great.

Reply
Giulianna Rubin May 23, 2024 - 5:31 pm

Hiiiii just made the recipe and I’m so excited to try it once it finishes brining! Just to confirm, how long will the feta last on the fridge?

Reply
Kaitlynn Fenley May 24, 2024 - 9:42 am

It should last a long while. I’ve never kept it long enough for it to go bad. It definitely lasts 6 months, probably longer.

Reply