High-quality feta cheese is not cheap. But what if you have bought it for a recipe and ended up with leftover feta? How should you store it to prevent it from going bad too soon?
How long does feta cheese last? Unopened feta will last at least a week after its ‘Sell by’ date. Once you open it, you should either store feta in brine to extend its shelf life or use it within a few days to avoid throwing this extremely delicious and versatile cheese away.
In this article, you will get to learn about the proper storage methods for feta cheese, be it crumbled or in blocks.
Does Feta Cheese Go Bad?
Like other cheese varieties and dairy products in general, feta cheese can go bad.
How long will feta cheese last depends on a range of factors. Feta in its original packaging lasts longer as it is safely wrapped. But once you open it, you need to take good care of your feta cheese to extend its shelf life.
How to Store Feta Cheese?
Feta cheese should always be refrigerated. If you leave it at room temperature, fete cheese will be safe to eat for as little as 6 hours.
As feta comes in different shapes – blocks and crumbled, you may wonder how each of them should be stored. Good news! There are only a few things you should know to store your feta cheese so that it keeps well for as long as possible.
First of all, you should always keep feta in a well-sealed container. Additionally, it is best to keep feta in brine to prevent it from drying out.
Here is how to properly store crumbled feta and feta that comes in blocks.
Feta blocks that you buy from supermarkets usually come packaged in brine. Once you open the package, it may no longer be suitable for further storage and you will have to think of storing your feta blocks in a more reliable way.
Feta blocks are generally preserved in brine (saltwater). However, if you find your feta cheese to be too salty, you can also preserve it in water or milk.
To store feta blocks, mix a cup of water with a teaspoon of salt. Pour the solution into an airtight container and put the leftover feta blocks in it. You should make sure that the blocks are fully submerged into the solution.
If you know you will be eating the leftover feta blocks within a few days, there is to need to preserve it in brine or any other liquid. Instead, wrap each block individually with food wrap, making sure that the cheese is well-covered. Put feta blocks into an airtight container or Ziploc bag as an extra layer of protection against drying out.
Preserving Feta Blocks in Olive Oil
Preserving feta blocks in olive oil is many people’s preferred way of storing feta cheese. Olive oil keeps the cheese creamy and soft. Additionally, the oil that is left behind the cheese is so delicious. You can use it to make salad dressings or simply drizzle on top of pasta.
The preparation process of feta blocks preserved in oil is not complicated. Here is how to do it in a few easy steps.
- Cut the feta into cubes.
- Put it in a jar or container with a tight-sealing lid.
- Add as much olive oil as to cover the cheese.
- Add your favorite herbs, including thyme, rosemary, dill, etc. You can also add some lemon zest.
- Close the jar and leave the cheese to marinate for at least 2 days.
As oil may become semi-solid in the fridge, let feta preserved in olive oil sit at room temperature for 60 minutes or so before serving.
Once opened, crumbled feta should also be stored in brine. Otherwise, it will quickly dry out.
Keep crumbled feta in a container with a tight-sealing lid, making sure that the salty solution covers the cheese entirely.
Can You Freeze Feta Cheese?
Freezing is not the recommended storage method for feta cheese. It will cause the cheese to slightly change its flavor and texture qualities. However, this is a great way to preserve the cheese instead of throwing it away.
If you know you won’t be using feta cheese within a week or so and preserving it in oil or a salty solution is not what you want to do, then freezing is the next best option for you.
You can freeze both feta blocks and crumbled feta. The freezing techniques slightly differ. But the key rules for both feta varieties are the same. Firstly, you should strain feta before freezing. Secondly, you should make sure to wrap the cheese tightly to avoid freezer burn.
In the case of feta cheese in blocks, freeze them wrapped individually in plastic wrap and stored in a Ziploc bag. If you are freezing feta for salads or other dishes where you need it in cubes, cut the cheese prior to freezing.
As for crumbled feta, you can freeze it in multiple smaller portions to make thawing easy. Whether you store feta in an airtight container or plastic bag, make sure it is well-packaged and not exposed to oxygen. Otherwise, the cheese will soon dry out and you will have to discard it.
How to Defrost Feta Cheese?
To defrost feta cheese simply transfer it from the freezer into the fridge. Thawing frozen feta cheese at room temperature is not a good idea.
If you need the cheese to defrost quicker, leave it under running cold water to accelerate the process.
Keep in mind that once defrosted, feta cheese won’t have as intense of a flavor. It will also be crumblier as a result of freezing and defrosting. But the good thing is that it will still be good for use.
How Long Does Feta Cheese Last?
Unopened feta will last at least a week past its ‘Sell by’ date. If it is an unopened package of feta in blocks, you can use it within 14 to 21 days after its best by date.
The shelf life of unopened crumbled feta is shorter. It lasts only around a week after its ‘Sell by’ date.
When using feta that is past its expiration date, make sure to inspect it closely before using it.
Once you open feta and store it unbrined, no matter if it is crumbled or in blocks, it will last up to 7 days in the fridge. Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do with feta. Use it up by adding feta to salads, pasta, and pizzas.
If you store your leftover feta in brine or olive oil, you will significantly extend its shelf life.
Feta preserved in brine solutions will keep well for up to 6 months. Feta preserved in olive oil, on the other hand, will be good for at least 2 weeks.
The freezer will extend the shelf life of feta cheese to up to 2 to 3 months. The cheese will maintain its best qualities for the first four weeks after which it will start to deteriorate. But it will still be safe for consumption for months.
Signs That Feta Cheese Has Gone Bad
In order to detect bad feta cheese, you need to know how it tastes when it is still good. So, it is always good to do a little taste test when you first buy your cheese.
In general, feta is a salty curd cheese variety. It has a tanginess that makes it so special.
Depending on the variety, the texture and flavor properties of feta cheese may slightly vary. The texture of feta cheese, for example, largely depends on its age and variety. It can be creamy or crumbly. Some feta varieties can also be somewhat grainy.
Don’t worry if you have left your feta cheese unopened in the fridge and need to check it before using. Even if you don’t know what exactly it should taste or feel like, there are a few signs that will help you detect spoiled feta cheese.
- Sour smell. Your feta shouldn’t smell sour. No matter what variety of feta it is, it should smell fresh and never sour. Some people find the smell of feta off-putting. If you are one of them, look for other signs to tell you if your feta is still good or not.
- Color changes. Feta is a white cheese variety. If you notice any color changes and darkening, your feta is most likely spoiled.
- Sour and peppery taste. Feta shouldn’t taste overly sour nor it should have a peppery aftertaste. If it does, your feta has most likely gone bad.
- Dryness. As we have mentioned earlier in this article, a common problem with feta is that it loses its moisture very quickly. If your feta is dry and gritty and has lost its creaminess, it is time to discard it.
Mold. Feta cheese that has mold on it should be discarded. With hard cheese varieties, you can remove the parts with mold and eat the rest. With soft cheeses like feta doing this is risky and not recommended.