Feta is one of the easiest cheeses to make at home. It uses a low-maintenance culture, stays at one temperature, and ferments in brine in the fridge where most adverse beasts cannot thrive. As I ease in to the practice of regular cheese making, feta is already a fixture in the rotation.
Here’s what you do: take a gallon or two of local raw milk (cow or goat; I used cow) and bring it to 86˚ F. Add your mesophilic culture (I used some cubes of frozen cultured goat milk from the last time I made it, which is the best way to keep the culture going and not have to continue buying it) and let the milk ripen at the same temperature for an hour. At this point, take out a ladle full and fill a few cells in an ice tray and freeze it. Those cubes will be your starter for the next batch. Next, add a bit of rennet diluted in about ten times its volume of water. Stir gently for a minute or so. Let sit for another hour or less at the same temp until you get a “clean break” which is to say the curd has visibly pulled away from the sides of the pot. Cut the curd into 1/2″ cubes and stir gently every couple of minutes for 15-20 more. I jiggled the pot so you can see what I’m talking about with the cutting. After you cut the x and y axes, you have to angle the knife and try your best to cut z as well since the curd is likely thicker than half an inch.
Ladle the cubes into cheese cloth in a colander over a bowl. Hang the cloth overnight over a bowl. (Edit: flip the lump over after 6 or so hours to make a rounder ball. Thanks, El). Incidentally, it was harder to get a picture just as a drip was falling from the bundle than it was to do any other step of this process.
Save the whey for ricotta, baking, braising meat, ranch dressing, and approximately one million other culinary uses. Cut the curd into 1″ cubes and immerse in a 3% brine with any flavorings you might like (I used rosemary). Put in the fridge for 4-6 weeks, though you can eat it in a week if you have instant gratification issues. It gets funkier and better over time; I love it particularly because the culture in the cheese is doing one thing and then the lacto-fermentation in the brine pickles it at the same time. It’s a symphony of microbial metabolic splendor.
A digital thermometer is very useful, as is a scale. Seriously, buy a $20 digital scale. Baking bread is even easier than this. Rennet and the culture are both required, and can be easily ordered online. And after the month or more during which you’ve patiently waited for your milk to slowly spoil in just the right way, you can dig the crumbly, funky cubes from the brine and smash them on homemade pita bread and wonder why the hell we even have supermarkets anyway.