Got some leftover feta, and no plan on using it in the next week or so? Or a half-empty container of crumbled feta cheese that sits in the corner of the fridge?
If so, you probably considered putting it in the freezer. That begs the question: can you freeze feta cheese?
You can freeze feta cheese, both in block form and crumbled. In either case, feta can be frozen for at least 3 months. Make sure your feta is fresh, place it in an airtight container, then seal and freeze it.
If you’re like me, you don’t buy feta that often. And the Greek cheese, especially if you buy it in the Mediterranean or Greek markets, can get expensive. Because of that, you probably want to get the most out of it.
That means using those leftovers instead of letting them dry out in the fridge and end up in the trash. But if you don’t feel like cooking anything with feta anytime soon, freezing might be your only option.
Let’s explore freezing, defrosting, and using thawed feta cheese.
Need your leftover feta to last a bit longer? Make your own brine.
How Freezing Affects Feta?
Before you get to freezing feta, you probably want to know what you’re in for, right?
After freezing and thawing, feta gets crumblier and loses a bit of its signature richness and saltiness. It also becomes a tiny bit drier.
The changes are nowhere as significant as in cottage cheese (yes, you can freeze cottage cheese), but you can notice them if you pay close attention. If you don’t, they’re hardly there, and 8 out of 10 times, you won’t be able to tell if that feta was frozen or not.
That means, in most cases, that frozen and defrosted feta is still usable in salads, and so on.
But if you want to be 100% sure nobody can tell if it was frozen, use it in a cooked dish. Those changes are impossible to notice in such dishes because, well, the cheese has been melted. And if it lacks saltiness, you can always add a pinch or two to make up for that.
You can add saltiness back to feta by submerging it in a saline solution for half an hour. Use one teaspoon of salt per cup of water and make sure the solution covers the cheese.
Want to use that thawed feta cheese in a salad? It’ll likely turn perfectly fine. Probably not spectacular, but unless you’re trying to impress whoever is going to eat that salad, that’s not an issue.
How To Freeze Feta Cheese
There are two ways to freeze your feta:
- as a whole block
Of course, if your feta is already crumbled, only the second option is on the menu. But if you have a whole block, you can either leave it this way or crumble the feta yourself (or cube it, as I did) if that’s how you use it in recipes.
Now, let’s talk about how to go about both options.
Freezing Crumbled Feta Cheese
You can freeze feta cheese crumbles, both store-bought and those that you crumbled yourself from a feta block. Both options freeze well. The best way is to pre-freeze the crumbles on a cookie sheet, then transfer frozen pieces into a freezer container and place it in the freezer.
Once you have your crumbled feta ready, grab a cookie tin, something to line it with, and block a couple of minutes of time. Now you’re ready.
Here’s how you freeze feta cheese crumbles:
- Pre-freeze. Spread the crumbles in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat or aluminum foil. Make sure there’s some space between crumbles so that they don’t freeze into a single large and thin clump. Or divide them into a couple of groups, each group enough for a single dish. Put the cheese into the freezer and leave it there until it freezes solid.
- Transfer crumbles into a freezer bag or container. When doing so, split apart ones that stick together using a spatula. Stick a label with name and date if you like.
- Put the bag or container into the freezer.
And that’s all. You have a bunch of feta crumbles frozen, and you can quickly grab as much as you need for a recipe.
Freeze Feta Blocks
For starters, think about how you’re going to use that feta after thawing. Having a dish or two in mind makes it easy to cut the block into portions that you can easily use.
If you’re not sure how you will use that feta, freeze it in cubes. This way, you can quickly grab as much as you need without defrosting the entire thing or struggling to cut frozen feta.
Here’s how you freeze feta block:
- Strain the brine. If it’s an unopened block, open it and get rid of the brine. Consider patting the block with a paper towel, but don’t try to get all of the water out.
- Cut the feta into portions. Each portion should be enough for a single dish, so you can just grab it and thaw it. Or do like I do, and cube the feta.
- Pre-freeze. Grab a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat (or something else that’ll prevent the cheese from sticking to the sheet), and transfer the slices onto it. Make sure they don’t touch each other, so they don’t freeze together. Put the cookie sheet into the freezer for a couple of hours until the feta freezes solid. Skip this step if you freeze the whole thing.
- Transfer the frozen pieces into a freezer container or bag. After pre-freezing, the slices won’t stick together. That means you can keep them in a single box, no problem. Add a label to the container if you like. If you’re using a freezer bag, push out as much air as you can before sealing it.
- Put everything in the freezer.
That’s it. Feta is ready to sit in the freezer for at least a couple of months.
How Long Does Feta Last In The Freezer?
As usual, when it comes to freezing food, it’s difficult to answer that question.
Feta cheese retains decent quality for at least 3 months in the freeze. The longer feta cheese stays in the freezer, the worse its quality. But those changes are very gradual, and you can only see those if you compare feta that’s frozen for a month to feta that’s in the freezer for 3+ months.
Remember that it’s not like feta that’s frozen for more than 3 months goes bad or something. The only thing you should expect is that the quality will be a bit worse.
You might be able to spot the difference if you look closely, but often you won’t notice much of a difference between feta that’s frozen for two weeks and one that’s in the freezer for more than 3 months.
How To Defrost Feta
There are two options for thawing feta:
- In the fridge. Put the container or bag in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, or overnight. The only downside of this method is that it requires quite some time and a bit of planning.
- Throw it in frozen. If you plan to melt that feta over pasta or add to a soup or stew, you might as well skip defrosting. Just add those cubes or crumbles straight from the freezer, and let the temperature do its wonders.
The second method is my favorite. With it, I don’t need to know when I’ll use that feta so that I know when I have to start thawing it. I grab as many cubes as I need and get on with cooking the dish.
Once you defrost your feta, use it within 1 to 2 days.
If you’re still unsure how you’re going to use that feta, the next section is for you.
Using Thawed Feta
As I mentioned, frozen and defrosted feta works best in cooked dishes. Those include, but are not limited to:
- Melting on top of pasta or mashed potatoes (that’s how I use feta most often)
- Adding to cooked sauces
- Adding some extra flavor to creamy soups
- Stews, casseroles, and anything else that you cook on the stove or baked in the oven
If you’re looking for a list of recipes that include feta, here’s one. It includes a number of dishes that include feta, both in cooked and uncooked form, and it’s a great starting point if you’re looking for a new way to use your feta.