White cheese – feta production process
White cheese – feta production can be made from cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk or a mixture of cow’s, sheep’s, goat’s and buffalo’s milk. The milk used is mainly produced in mountainous areas, where I find an ecosystem rich in flora and fauna due to climatic and soil conditions. The rich organoleptic characteristics of sheep’s and goat’s milk have to do with the natural breeding of domestic sheep and goats. The milk is collected by the producers and transported by car refrigerators to the cheese dairies, where the milk must be coagulated within 48 hours. But first the goat’s and sheep’s milk is standardized and then pasteurized either by the slow method at 68 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes or by the fast method at 72 degrees Celsius for 15 seconds. Then the milk is cooled to reach 34-36ºC, and then lactic acid, cultures, calcium chloride CaCl2 (salt) is added in a ratio of 10 – 20 per 100 kg of milk, after 20 minutes rennet is added to start the coagulation process at 45 to 60 minutes.
Once the coagulation process is over, the condensed milk (cheese) is cut into small cubes (1-2 cm wide) and left for 10 minutes. The cubes are then carefully transferred into molds that help drain and form the white cheese. The molds that are full of cheese are transferred to a room with a temperature of 16 – 18 degrees Celsius in containers with brine for 18 – 24 hours. During this period the molds are turned for better drainage. The next day the cheese comes out of the molds and is placed either in wooden barrels or metal containers where it is salted in each layer of cheese, so that the final salt concentration in the cheese mass is about 3%.
After 2-3 days the cheese is placed in other barrels or other containers with brine containing 7% Sodium Chloride (NaCl). Are the barrels transported to the ripeners? Rooms with a temperature of 16 to 18 degrees Celsius with high humidity in which they remain for 10 to 15 days, for the completion of the first stage of maturation. At the end of the first stage of ripening the humidity of the white cheese should be at 56% and the pH should be between 4.4 and 4.6. For the second stage of maturation, the white cheese is transferred to refrigerators with a temperature of 2 to 4 degrees Celsius. The total ripening time of white cheese can take up to 2 months. Until its distribution, the white cheese is kept in refrigerators with a temperature of 0 to 2 degrees Celsius. When storing white cheese – feta in wooden barrels or cans it should be covered with brine with a salt content of 7% and avoid contact with air. In this way the freshness of the product and its rich organoleptic characteristics are maintained.
How is white cheese -feta offered?
White cheese – feta is offered to the consumer directly from the wooden barrel or metal container. For reference other packages white cheese is available to the consumer in airtight packages of plastic bags as well as individual plastic containers containing brine. These packages offer great convenience to the consumer.
For best quality white cheese feta should be purchased directly from a container with the product covered in brine. If the product is pre-packaged then the package must contain brine to keep it moist. White cheese is best eaten fresh immediately after opening. If not consumed immediately, the whole product is kept in brine or a container with milk. The milk will reduce the saltiness of the product and will keep the cheese liquid with a milder taste. White cheese if stored in the refrigerator and in ideal conditions can be stored for up to 3 months.