Bulgarian Siren is a type of hard white cheese. It is very similar to feta cheese, but has a sharper taste and the most delicious aroma that you can imagine thanks to the presence of lactobacillus bulgaricus lactic acid bacteria.
Feta cheese starter culture | for Feta and Siren
Bulgarian Siren is a type of hard white cheese. It is very similar to feta cheese, but has a sharper taste and the most delicious aroma that you can imagine thanks to the presence of lactobacillus bulgaricus lactic acid bacteria. It is eaten under different names throughout the Balkans, e.g. sirene, djath i bardhe, sir, bryndza.
Content Feta starter culture
- 4 grams of heirloom siren starter (enough for 10 liters or 2 kilos of cheese)
- Origin: Produced in Bulgaria.
- Organic and completely natural without preservatives, additives, artificial colors or flavors. It contains no GMO ingredients and it is gluten free.
- allergens: milk
- Contents: milk, starter cultures
Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactococcus lactis, Lactococcus cremoris, Lactococcus dyacetylactis, Lactococcus helveticus. 1 gram starter contains more than 25 billion cfu of probiotic bacteria lactic acid.
In the freezer. After use, store the yogurt starter in the freezer in a Ziploc bag or in a vacuum. The starter is very hydrophilic – if moisture gets into the package, the quality will deteriorate. Shelf life is 2 years in the freezer.
You can use any kind of milk you want – cows, sheep, goats, lean, whole, raw, pasteurized, dairy products (unfortunately this does not work with non-dairy milk), it makes a great siren! Avoid using ultra-pasteurized or UHT milk because it curdles poorly and the taste of your siren will not get so good. We recommend using whole milk for the best results. This is a Direct Vat Inoculation (DVI) culture, meaning you can add the starter straight from the freezer to the milk.
Ingredients and materials
The instructions below are for handling 4 liters of milk, so you need to adjust them for other quantities accordingly. 4 liters of milk yields approximately 700 grams of white brine cheese (siren).
- 4 liters of milk
- 1 package of the siren starter culture (it is best to use the full package, so make sure you get a package for the same volume of milk that you treat)
- 1/4 teaspoon of liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup of cold water
- 1/4 teaspoon of liquid calcium chloride diluted in 1/4 cup of cold water. Note that you do not need calcium chloride when using raw milk.
- cheese cloth (or butter muslin or clean sterile handkerchiefs)
- sieve or colander, make sure you sterilize them with hot water before you use them
- cheese mold (this is where you are going to mold and pickle the cheese)
- sea salt
- a thermometer – can do without, but it’s always handy to have one
- Prepare the milk: heat the milk to 74-78 ° С. This is done to kill existing bacteria in it that can react with the Lactobacillus Bulgaricus culture. Cool the milk to 34-37 ° C.
- add the starter culture to the milk. Let it hydrate for 5 minutes and then stir it into the milk with a gentle up and down motion to distribute it well. Do this for about 5 minutes.
- Add the diluted calcium dichloride solution and stir it slowly into the milk for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the rennet while you keep stirring, stir for another 3-5 minutes.
- Cover the pan and let it stand for about an hour.
- At this point the milk should have been converted into a mass of curd sold surrounded by liquid whey. To check whether the milk is fully adjusted, push in the side that touches the container with a spoon or a knife. Milk is ready for the next step when the separation is clear. A so-called smooth break. If the dividing line is still blurry, cover the pot again and let it stand for another 15 minutes and then test again. Repeat until it’s done.
- Process the curd: cut the curd into 2 cm squares with a knife. Try to cut so that the pieces are more or less the same size.
- Then let them rest for 10 minutes. This helps to separate more whey.
- With a clean hand or spoon, occasionally move slowly through the curd (about 2-3 times per minute) for the next 20 minutes. More whey will separate. The curd will become stiffer at this point.
- Drain and mold the cheese: then we have to drain the curd. Make sure you save the whey, you need it for the brine. Cover a colander with a double layer of cheese cloth or a clean tea purpose or handkerchief.
- Carefully transfer the curd into the colander.
- Drain the curd for about 30 minutes or until little whey is visible around the curd. If you use a cloth, simply knot the corners of the cloth into a bag, put a wooden spoon through the knot and let it hang in a large pot or bucket.
- Now it is time to make the brine: add salt to the brine (in 1 portion 1 tablespoon of salt per 250 ml of brine). Keep the brine in the fridge for the time being until you need it.
- Drain the curd overnight and store at room temperature. Cheese shrinks and forms in the form. It will have visibly become firmer at this time.
- Salt the cheese: now that the curd has drained, it is time to salt the cheese.
- Remove the cheese from the mold and cut into pieces, the size does not matter. The smaller the pieces, the more salt they will absorb.
- Salt all sides of the pieces generously.
- Leave for a whole day at room temperature and turn the pieces occasionally to add more salt to the wet areas – salt will drain the whey further out of the cheese.
- Place the container with the pieces of cheese in the refrigerator and keep it until the cheese no longer produces whey for about five days. Drain extruded whey and turn the pieces over once a day. You can cover the container with a plastic wrap or leave it uncovered as you wish
- You can eat it now.
- If you do not intend to eat the cheese immediately, you can store it in brine for storage and to make it even salty. To do this, add the brine that you had already prepared in step above and keep the cheese in it – in the refrigerator – for as long as you want.
Buying Feta starter culture?
Order your Feta starter culture at startercultures.eu, the European webshop for all your fermentation needs’. By Meneer Wateetons, renowned Dutch fermentation expert and author. Order on weekdays before 3 pm and we’ll ship the same day. Questions on the usage of the vegan cheese starter kit? Ask them in our chat, we’ll here to help!
Online on demand workshop ‘how to make vegan cheese at home’ (subtitled)
During this English subtitled workshop you will learn the theory and practice of making vegan cheese