So you bought some feta cheese for a salad or a homemade pizza recipe you wanted to try out. You used half of the block, and aren’t sure what you should do with the rest. Does feta cheese go bad? And how you should store the leftovers?
Or maybe you went with the more convenient to use variety, which is the crumbled feta cheese. You added as much as the recipe required and are left with a third of the package. Your first guess is that the cheese will probably start to dry out in such a setting slowly. And you’re right, crumbled feta cheese leftovers aren’t known for their longevity. But maybe there’s something you could do to make it last longer?
You’re not the only one with similar questions and concerns. And reading a bit more about storage, shelf life, and going bad of feta cheese should answer most, if not all, of your questions. And this article is precisely about that, so read on.
Image used under Creative Commons from Rebecca Siegel
How To Store Feta Cheese
Unlike other varieties of cheese, such as hard cheese or string cheese, storing feta is all about the brine. Brine is a solution of salt and water, and as long as feta is submerged in brine, it will last a long time. Generally, you can buy feta in blocks packaged with brine, or crumbled and ready to use. When it comes to where you should keep it, the fridge is the place to go, as both varieties require refrigeration. Now let’s talk about storing each of the varieties in more detail.
When it comes to feta cheese in blocks, as long as it’s unopened, it’s perfectly fine in its original packaging. Once you cut open the block and there are leftovers, you need to make a decision. If you expect to use the cheese within a few days, you can just wrap the cheese with a plastic wrap, or put it into a freezer bag or an airtight container and call it a day. If you’d like to store it for an extended period, you need to submerge it in brine. To make your own brine, you add 1 teaspoon of salt per 1 cup of water. You need to make enough of this solution, so it covers the leftover block entirely in an airtight container. Once you got that done, throw the container into the fridge.
If you bought crumbled feta cheese, the modus operandi is actually quite similar. Once you open the package, seal it tightly before putting it back into the fridge. If you would like to store the feta for an extended period, prepare enough brine to cover the crumbled cheese entirely, then refrigerate the container.
You might be afraid that your feta will turn out too salty, but fear not, as you can work around that. If it is, in fact, too salty, you can rinse it with water, or even submerge in water for half an hour before serving. This way the water will take some of the salt back and the taste of your feta will improve. Of course, first, you should check the saltiness of the cheese before you start the water treatment.
How Long Does Feta Cheese Last
This cheese, traditionally made from sheep’s and goat’s milk, should come with a sell-by or use-by date. As you probably know, the cheese should retain quality for some time after that date. Let’s dive into the shelf life of different varieties.
When it comes to unopened blocks of feta in brine, the shelf life of this variety is usually around two to three months. And since the saline solution the cheese is in does an excellent job of preserving it, that feta should easily last for 2 weeks or even up to a month past the date on the label.
On the other hand, we have crumbled feta not sold in brine, which therefore doesn’t retain quality for as long. Nevertheless, you can expect it to stay fresh for maybe a week past the date on the label.
Once you open the package, things change, and everything depends on whether you submerge the leftovers in brine, or not. That’s true for both feta blocks and crumbled feta. If you leave the cheese as is and only wrap or seal it well, it should retain freshness for maybe 5 to 7 days. If you get your hands dirty and prepare the brine yourself, or use the one cheese came in, you can store the leftovers in brine for about a month. Clearly, storing feta in brine is the better option here.
|Feta block in brine (unopened)||Sell-by + 2 – 4 weeks|
|Crumbled feta (unopened)||Sell-by + 1 week|
|Feta leftovers (without brine)||5 – 7 days|
|Feta leftovers (submerged in brine)||4 weeks|
Please note that the periods above are estimates only.
How To Tell If Feta Is Bad
Let’s start with how good feta should look and feel like. Generally, this cheese has a tangy and somewhat salty flavor. And the texture is smooth and creamy, easy to slice or cube. Of course, some of these qualities vary a bit depending on whether it’s Greek, Bulgarian, or French feta.
Now to how to spot d feta. First off, if there’s mold or any dark specs on the surface, throw it out. If the cheese is submerged in brine, check its color and consistency. If it darkened and has become slimy, discard the cheese. Same thing if it has developed a sour aroma. If everything up to this point seems to be in perfect order, check the texture of the cheese. If it crumbles when you pick some, it’s past its prime, and it’s time to get rid of it.