Brynza, Eastern European Feta

Brynza, a cheese similar to feta, is made throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The word comes from brînză, Romanian for cheese. It is an important component of Ukrainian, Moldovan, Romanian and Balkan cuisine, and there’s even an annual Brynza Festival every fall in the town of Rakhiv, in Transcarpathian Ukraine. The cheese is usually made from sheep’s milk, but cow’s and goat’s milk can be used, as well. Sometimes all are used together.

My usual provider didn’t have any sheep’s milk available, so I used cow’s milk this time around. I think there’s still some fine-tuning required (see below), but this recipe does produce a nice cheese already.

You can get cheese-making supplies here.

Yields about 8 oz

2 qt pasteurized milk
1/8 tsp calcium chloride, diluted into 1 oz milk
1/2 packet direct-set mesophilic starter
1/4 tsp liquid rennet, diluted into 1 oz milk

  • Combine the milk and diluted calcium chloride, and heat to 86 F. Stir in the mesophilic starter, cover, and let ripen for 1 hour.
  • Add the diluted rennet, mix thoroughly, and let set at 86 F for 1 more hour.
  • Cut the curd into 1/2 cubes, let rest for 10 minutes, then stir gently for 20 minutes.
  • Pour the curds into a colander lined with a double layer of cheesecloth (or a thin kitchen towel). Let drain for at least 6 hours. After a couple hours, you can tie the corners and hang like a bag.
  • Remove the curds from the cloth and cut into 1″ slices. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp salt on all sides, transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 4 days.
  • Transfer the cheese to a quart container, and fill with a a brine made of cold water blended with 7% salt. Refrigerate for at least 1 day. The cheese can be kept for about a week.

Now, for future improvements:

  • The cheese is not quite as firm as store-bought brynza or feta. I’m considering increasing the amount of calcium chloride, or adding some powdered milk.
  • I may try to shorten the 4 days of aging before the brining, as I’m not sure it actually brings much to the texture or flavor.
  • If you know where to find sheep’s milk in New York, let me know! I’ve used Udder Milk Creamery in the past, but they’ve been out of stock for a while now.