This is definitely a miss that turned into a big hit. With absolutely no special ingredients, you can make this vegan feta cheese at home with stuff from your pantry. It takes some patience while waiting for it to firm up, but other than that the recipe is pretty straightforward.
The inspiration for this recipe came along with my first attempts of homemade tofu when going vegan in late 2011. I did not achieve tofu, but I did achieve an interesting consistency that I thought would be fun to work with later. It was a lot more creamy than store-bought feta but not in a silken tofu kind of way. It reminded me of feta cheese, so I set out to merge the consistency with the taste of feta. To my inspiration, I recently had been testing out the popular almond feta. Although I really like the taste, I wasn’t very convinced by the texture of it. But it did give me ideas as to what makes your tastebuds go “uh, are we eating feta again?!”
problem challenge is that you can’t just throw spices together with your tofu and blend the cr*p out of it. This would, of course, give you all the desired taste, but in the shape of – well, a big blobby mess. Not so feta-ish. I was wondering how factory-made tofu has spices incorporated in all kinds of spice blends and still achieves a firm tofu. So I came up with a way of doing it that allows you to add your spices and have your tofu consistency too.
This is the amount of feta you get from this recipe (about 120 cubes, but who’s counting).
I use a very basic soymilk that consists of nothing but water, soybeans and salt. Using a milk that contains emulsifiers, gums and or other coagulants is likely to prevent the desired curdling. Almond milk is supposed to be able to curdle in the same way, so, if avoiding soy, you can use a store-bought sugarfree one or homemade almond milk. If you can only find a version with some sugar, it might still work, but you definitely want to leave out the added sugar in the recipe. Please use the picture of the curdled milk in the recipe for reference as to what your curds should look like in order for you to succeed with the recipe.
Use your favorite brand of nutritional yeast. I’ve only come across one specific (German) brand that I definitely felt messed up my feta cheese tastewise. But I don’t like that brand in anything, so go with your favorite and most cheesy-tasting brand and that should do the trick for you. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, here are some examples of nutritional yeast. Note that the more nutritional yeast you use, the less white your feta will be – but don’t leave it all out for that reason!
Does it really taste like feta?
Well, as with all veganized cheeses, the longer it’s been since you had the ‘original’ thing, the more the vegan version in front of you will taste like it 😉 But it’s creamy, it’s salty, it’s acidic, it’s cheesy and the little white cubes will bring your dish to a whole new level. Sounds like feta to me! I personally prefer this over the baked almond feta and the one store bought tofu based one I ever tasted (to be honest – and a bit cocky – I’m stilll not sure if the label “FETA” was a misprint that should just have read “spiced tofu”)
So, in order for you to understand how this is going to go down, here’s a visual walk through of the process:
- 4 C of unsweetened soy milk*
- 1/2 C of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 clove of garlic, minced (use it only if you enjoy the taste of raw garlic)
- 2 tsps fine salt
- 3 tsps fine salt you might want to drizzle more on top after final tasting
- 1 tsp cane or white sugar or syrup*
- 2-3 tbsps of nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder*
- 1 tbs fresh, chopped herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme) or 1 tsp dried.
- - Preferably a tofu press with bottom drain. Using a TofuXpress like model, turn it upside down to allow the whey to run off. I use a flat bottomed colander. You need to be able to apply quite a lot of pressure i.e. with a flat plate and then a heavy objects like a pile of books, a gold bar or even your golden retriever if you can make it sit still. I've even used two boards and a couple of clamps with great results.
- - A smooth kitchen towel or piece of cheesecloth, mousseline or the like, to line the colander or tofu press.
- Gently heat the soymilk and, while it's heating, make the lemon mix and pour in a bowl. Stir it until the salt and sugar are as dissolved as possible. I strain out the minced garlic so that the taste is not too overwhelming. When the soymilk is almost boiling, pour it in the lemon mixture, trying to distribute it evenly into the mix. It should end up looking like this:.
- Gently stir it if you see areas where it hasn't curdled properly, as illustrated above.
- Put a lid on and leave it undisturbed for about 20 minutes.
- Mix the dry ingredients (3 tsp salt, nutritional yeast, mustard powder and optional herbs) in a small bowl. Rub it between your fingers to powderize the nutritional yeast. Prepare your cloth-lined colander or a tofu press, as described in the GIF above.
- Sprinkle your spices on top of the curdled milk. Gently stir it to incorporate, but do it in slow motion to disturb the lovely little curds as little as possible.
- Now slowly pour the spiced, curdled milk into the cloth-lined colander or tofu press.
- Neatly pack the cloth around the soy mass, one side at a time, to get a more or less even piece of feta in the end. You should wind up with a 'package' about 4" by 6" wide. Place something flat on top and apply pressure. You want it to be mobile since it should be chilled while it's under pressure. Start pressing gently and spend the next 5-10 minutes applying more and more preessure until the feta block is just about ½ inch (1,2 cm) in height. You'll want to build your 'tower of pressure' in a way that enables you to move it to a cold place since it's supposed to chill and press for at least a couple of hours and preferably over night.
- This feta is more fragile than regular feta so be gentle when doing this.
- Now taste to see if it needs more salt. If so, sprinkle some finely ground salt on top and consider adding more salt to the spice mix the next time you make it to better accomodate your tastebuds.The consistency can be slightly adjusted to a more dry and less creamy state by wrapping the feta in a new and dry kitchen or paper towel. Or simply put it all into an airtight container and top it with a piece of paper towel that you change when it gets moist.
- Mustard powder can be left out
- I would love to add some light miso to the spice mix, but can't get my hands on miso powder which would be easier to incorporate than paste. Try it if you can get it.
- f you can get your hands on lactic acid this can partially replace the lemon juice for curdling adding a VERY authentic flavor to your feta. Note that not all types of lactic acids will be strong enough to induce curdling. I know that The Gentle Chef uses lactic acid from ModernistPantry.com
and this brand is supposed to be able to curdle your milk.
- The herb version of this cheese might benefit from the herbs being slightly heated with the milk in the very first step of the recipe. But since 80% of the milk is being strained afterwards it's hard to say without further testing how much of the taste will be washed out.
Use your vegan feta cheese to make ‘Greek neat balls’ again, yummmm…
Here’s a version made with fresh herbs
I will try this. Wish me luck 🙂
I tried this a few days ago and it worked very well. Thanks a lot for the recipe!!! I used unsweetened soy milk from Alnatura (German brand) and because I didn’t have enough lemons I substituted half of the lemon juice with white vinegar. I think the next time I would use less nutritional yeast and get a cheese press to get it even drier and crumblier. Has anyone tried to make it directly from soy beans?
Glad you liked it🤗 personally I’ve never come around to making soy milk from beans. Maybe someone else … ?
All the best
Looks great. I already make a similar cheese from soya milk and call it Ricotta. I’m going to try your recipe add some vegan lactic acid powder, as I’ve read that it makes a more tangy authentic cheese flavour.
Yes if you can get your hands on lactic acid that will definetly make it even cheesier!
All the best
hello, thank for the recipe.
im not a fan of homemade tofu since it is cheap in my area. but cheese and sour cream sound nice.
i have a question, how is it different from making tofu? is it because the lemon juice is limited in the recipe?
can i use apple vinegar instead? we dont have lemon here, we only have lime juice, the green one.
Yes other acids can be used but you will be able to taste it.
The difference is basically that you make it creamy before it firms up 🙂
I notice there is an asterisk at the end of the cane sugar ingredient but I didn’t notice a note. Is sugar absolutely necessary? Thank you!!!!!!!!
To get the right taste it is! But you will still get the right consistency without it 🙂
Thank you for your recipe. An update for you, or anyone else who comes across this. I tried to use Almond milk, and the recipe did not work out. When I added the almond milk to the lemon mixture, it did not curdle – not at all. I even used a little lactic acid, and had no luck. I did use store bought unsweetened almond milk, so that may have been the issue.
Thanks Nabila 🙂 Yes it may very well be that there is some kind of stabilizer in the store bought milk. I’ve had store bought almond milk curdle before, so it depends on the brand 🙂
I made my own by soaking 1 cup blanched almonds to 3 cups water, blended until really smooth then heated to 85°c. It cuddled immediately when I added it to the lemon juice mix. I also added 1/2 tsp miso paste and a 1 tsp coconut yoghurt in place of the lactic acid. It’s delicious!!!! I also found that a mix of 300g soft plain tofu and 1/4 cup almond meal mixed with the same quantity of water works just as well. It doesn’t curdle the same way but as it produces a thick consistency it stains really well – I strained mine all day for best results but skipped pressing it. Hope some of that’s useful =)
Thanks for sharing your experiments 🤗👏🏼
I made this today. I improvised a cheese press using plastic take away container of two different depths.. I melted holes in the shallow ones using an old mets skewer and cut the lid down so that it would rest on top of the cheese. I had a nut milk bag so used it to drain the curds.
Overall I was very pleased with the recipe. I added mustard powder but I think I used a bit too much as it tasted of mustard more than I would have liked. I also think I could have been even more generous with the salt.
It was an easy recipe to follow and I was glad of the pictures to guide me. I am not vegan but my daughter is and she was delighted with the result and is having it for her dinner tonight.
I’m so glad you guys liked it! What a lucky daughter you have, having a mom make her things like this <3
All the best
That’s a very ingenious work around!
Amazing!! I’ve just made this for the first time- We moved onto plant-based about 4 months ago and still miss cheesy things! I made a very herby one, and want to try just a cracked black pepper one, maybe a spicy one too! Its amazing! Time to see if it passes the husband test! Please do translate more recipes, I’ve loved what I’ve found so far, thank you very much!!
Well, those cheeses are hard to say goodbye to! I am so glad you like it, I sure hope I managed to translate more, I have so many awesome recipes that deserve it 😉 Thanks for your feedback!
Best regards Nina
how long does the feta cheese keep in the fridge please
Hi Kate 🙂
My guess is about 4 to 5 days. Be sure to wash your hands and utensils and the shelflife will be longer.
All the best
Thank you so very much for all you do!!! And thanks for translating these recipes into English!!!!
You’re welcome – glad it’s appreciated 😉
All the best
hello. thanks for the recipe! looks amazing. question – do you turn off the heat on the milk after step 3? or do you leave it on for the 20 minute period discussed in step 4? thanks!
Hi Michael ;:) Well in step 3 you pour the milk OUT of the pan and over the lemon juice in the bowl, so yes, you turn off the heat, because you no longer use it so to speak 😉 Did that clear things uop for you?
Best regards Nina
aaaah i see. i misread the very clear directions in your recipe. thanks a mil! i’m going to try this today.
Thank you for this, I will definitely try it and your crispy fries!!! Great website too, how do I find the receipe for your Greek Neat Balls? Thanks
I’m afraid I don’t have it translated yet :/ Use you’re favorite neat ball recipe and add my feta cheese 🙂
which brand was it exactly that screwed up the taste? cause I’ve bought some German nooch as well and wondered if it’s just me or it really does taste quite bad. just asking so I would know what to avoid in the future.
Don’t tell anyone, but I’m talking about Rapunzel… I’m a big fan of their product line in general, but their nooch is NOT my cup of tea 🙂 I know others who love it though so I’m sure it’s just a matter of taste.