Making Goat Milk Feta Cheese

There are lots of cheeses made from goat milk. Yet a recipe calling for goat cheese almost always means goat milk feta cheese.

This is not a difficult cheese to make. It does take time, most of it waiting time.

Begin with milk either fresh or cold. I prefer to use at least a gallon and a half to two gallons of milk straight from the milk room.

My version of goat milk feta cheese uses two extra ingredients: buttermilk and brine. The brine can be made up days in advance in a gallon jar using up to 2 cups salt and filling it with water, stirring to dissolve the salt.

goat milk feta cheese curds
Some recipes call for hanging the cheese curds in a cheesecloth bag for the whey to drain. First, netting works better and is easier to clean than cheesecloth. Second, hanging the curd out exposes it to contamination from the air. Third, hanging the curd is slow. Pressing the whey out either by hand in the colander or using a cheese press is much better. I prefer pressing by hand. More whey is released when I cut the curd into cubes.

Cheese companies have special feta starters. I’ve never made much of this cheese as I find it too salty for my taste. When I came across a recipe using buttermilk as the starter, I tried it. It makes an excellent cheese.

Warm the milk to 88 degrees and stir in a quarter cup of buttermilk. Put the lid on and do something else for an hour.

When the hour is up, stir in rennet to set the curd in half an hour. Go do something else.

Once the curd is set, you will be working with the cheese for a time. Cut the curd and let it set for five minutes. Then gently stir the curd for fifteen minutes.

goat milk feta cheese in brine
I kept a gallon plastic jug to make the brine in. I put a cup of canning salt in, added water and stirred. The brine can be made stronger or weaker. I poured out however much I needed into an enameled bowl. It works out best to have brine in the bowl and adding the curd. Pouring the brine onto the curd breaks the curd up. Soaking the curd in the brine makes it salty and adds to the shelf life of the cheese.

While you stir the curd, the whey begins to separate out. At the end of the time, let the curd settle for five minutes while you set up the colander.

Pour the whey and curds into the colander until it is full. Shift the curds to drain more whey out and add more curds until all the curds are in the colander.

Use a spoon to move the curds around to drain as much whey out as you can. Then press the curd to get more whey out.

Turn the pressed curd out onto a plate. Take out a bowl and half fill it with brine.

The bowl can be glass, stainless steel, enamel, just not aluminum. I prefer not to use plastic.

When I do goat milk feta cheese, I cut the lump of curd into roughly half inch cubes and slip them into the brine. Be sure all the curd is covered with brine. Put a cover on the bowl and set it in the refrigerator for a few hours.

goat milk feta cheese
The feta cheese curd is much firmer after soaking in the brine for a few hours. Still, as I rinse the curd off under the cold water faucet, I use my hand to soften the flow. It takes several turns around and rinsing to get the brine off. Leaving the curd in the colander and letting it drain overnight keeps moisture out of the cheese container and slows spoiling. The feta can be frozen for use in a couple of months.

When you wander back into the kitchen, take the cheese out of the refrigerator. Drain the cheese in the colander. Rinse the cheese with cold water.

Set the colander onto the bowl, cover it and put it back in the refrigerator for several hours, even overnight. The brine, whey and water will drain off.

The cheese cubes tend to stick together in the colander. I break them up as I put the cheese into containers. Your goat milk feta cheese is now ready to use. It keeps nearly two weeks due to the salt. It mixes into scrambled eggs, on salads, melts onto tomato halves and crumbles into a delicious Greek salad.

You can find how to make fresh milk ricotta or mozzarella in previous posts and find out more about using goat meat and milk in “Goat Games“.