Feta cheese is loved for its pungent aroma, salty cheesy flavor and crumbly soft texture. Unfortunately, this cheese does not stay fresh long after opening up a container of it. In fact, the brine it comes in can actually become slimy and dark in color causing the cheese to become sour and spoiled. It is always best to purchase the amount desired without the brine and use it up as quickly as possible so you can truly enjoy the flavor and texture of the cheese.
Image used under Creative Commons from Rebecca Siegel
What is the shelf life of feta cheese?
Depending on the way your feta cheese is packaged will determine the shelf life of your feta cheese. For example, if your feta cheese comes in a plastic container with salty brine, sealed shut with a plastic wrapping and topped with a lid the feta cheese will stay fresh until the expiration date and even a week past it. If you want to get the most shelf life out of your feta cheese and you do not plan to use it up anytime soon you can place the unopened container of it in the freezer where it will stay fresh for up to 6 months.
However, once you defrost the feta cheese you should use it up within 24-hours because it will spoil quickly and develop a dried out texture that is unsatisfying. You should never try refreezing previously frozen feta, or a container of open feta that has been sitting in your refrigerator because this will not extend the shelf life of your feta. In fact, it will just cause it to spoil, change drastically in flavor and texture and become dangerous to eat.
Now, if you purchase the feta cheese without brine you can safely store it away in your refrigerator without it spoiling for at least a week or two. However, as soon as you notice it developing a rancid smell and sour flavor it is best if you toss it out. It is always best to eat feta cheese without brine within the first few days of purchasing it so it actually has the flavor and texture you so desire it to have.
What causes this soft cheese to spoil fast?
Since the surface of this soft cheese is constantly exposed to air, it typically causes it to dry out fast making it a flaky crumble texture instead of a moist one. Limiting the exposure to air can help prevent it from spoiling. Feta cheese also has a higher protein, moisture content and fat content in it, which causes it to spoil much quicker because bacteria has an easier time growing in it. That is why it is recommended to you store feta cheese in salty brine, in the refrigerator where it is cool and dark, and not on top of your countertop exposed to air, humidity and germs.
End Notes to Keep in Mind for Feta Cheese
If you have a container of feta cheese that has been in your refrigerator for months and you want to know if it is still good, simply check the brine for slimness and make sure it does have a sour smell or darkened color to it. If it does, the feta cheese is no longer good and you should toss it out and replace it with new cheese to be on the safe side. Keep in mind that feta cheese always tastes best fresh and with its moist crumbly texture and salty cheesy flavor that pairs well with a leafy green salad, roasted tomatoes, Greek dishes or homemade pizza dishes. Buying feta cheese in bulk and hoping to get a long shelf life out of it is not recommended since it does not have one.