Feta is betta. When in doubt about which cheese to buy, remember these great words.
Hailing from Greece, this goat/sheep milk cheese has won over the globe. Its tangy and salty taste works well with fresh salads, but its use is limited only by one’s imagination.
Here’s a scenario that we see often: you go to the supermarket, buy the cheese in bulk, and use just a quarter of it. Now you’ve got a pile of cheese sitting in your fridge, and you’re wondering – how long does feta cheese last? Will it go bad before you use it again?
Well, friend, we’ve got the answers you’re looking for. If you hate wasting good feta, then read the article and learn all about its shelf life and how to store it properly!
Does Feta Cheese Go Bad?
Plain old feta cheese can be bought almost anywhere, but great feta can be hard to find. Once you find it, it’s only natural to want to stock up on it.
Feta falls into the category of soft white cheeses which have a relatively short shelf life, especially when compared to other types of cheese. One of the reasons feta contains a lot of salt is preservation.
|Feta Cheese Nutritional Values||Per 100 g|
Despite all the salt, it will go bad eventually, no matter how and where you keep it. However, not all feta is made equal, and different varieties can last for varying amounts of time.
This cheese is packed and sold either in blocks submerged in brine, or in crumbled form. These two packaging methods have a significant impact on how long it will last. Also, fresh or homemade feta will spoil sooner than some industrial versions that contain preservatives.
It goes without saying that you should check the “best before” date on the packaging, but what are the rules after opening it? Is it still going to be good until the given date? More on that later.
As you can see, we’ve got a lot on our plate today, so let’s go into it a bit further.
How Long Does Feta Cheese Last?
As you may or may not know, all feta cheese comes (or at least should come) with a use-by or sell-by date. Even after that date has passed, the cheese should retain a certain level of quality.
This depends on whether it’s in brine or not, and at what temperature it’s been sitting. Speaking of temperature, the cheese must be kept in the fridge at all times.
Feta blocks in brine have the longest shelf life. It varies from brand to brand, but it’s usually up to three months. The saline solution preserves the cheese so well that it remains good to eat for a few weeks past the use-by date.
Crumbled feta doesn’t last for so long because it (usually) isn’t soaked in brine. Once the date on the label passes, it should still stay fresh for a week or so.
Now, opening the package changes all the rules. The critical factor here is whether the leftovers are in brine or not, no matter if the feta is crumbled or in blocks.
Cheese without brine, if wrapped or sealed well, will stay fresh for around a week at best. If it’s submerged in brine, then it can sit up to a month. As you can see, storing it in brine is the better solution, and if the cheese you bought didn’t come soaked in it, you could make it yourself.
In the table below, you can see a summary of the information from this section.
|Unopened block in brine||Use-by date + up to 1 month|
|Opened block in brine||Up to 1 month|
|Opened block without brine||Up to 1 week|
|Unopened crumbled feta||Use-by date + up to 1 week|
|Opened crumbled feta in brine||Up to 1 month|
|Opened crumbled feta without brine||Up to 1 week|
How To Store Feta Cheese?
Like we said, keeping the feta in brine is the best option, but what if the cheese you bought didn’t come in it? Well, you can always make your own. It’s easy!
Here’s how you can do it:
Take three cups of cold water and dissolve a quarter of a cup of salt in it. Then, get a large sealable container, place the feta in it, and pour the salty solution over it. The cheese needs to be completely covered to get the best results. Seal the container, press out as much air as you can, and refrigerate it. Your feta should remain good to eat for several weeks when stored like this.
So far, we’ve only talked about refrigeration, but you should know that you can freeze feta too. The cheese will be able to last up to six months in the freezer, but its texture and taste will change a bit after you thaw it. Since the cheese won’t be the same as it was fresh, we recommend freezing it only if you’ll use it for cooked dishes.
Freezing Blocks And Crumbled Feta Is A Slightly Different Process, And Now We’ll Describe Both
Freezing Blocks Of Feta Cheese:
- If the cheese is soaked in brine, strain it.
- Pat the block with a paper towel to soak up excess moisture.
- If the block is big, cut it into smaller pieces.
- Wrap the cheese with cling wrap so that no air can get in.
Before freezing, it’s advisable to divide the feta into equal portions. Smaller is always better as it allows you to thaw the exact amount you need.
Freezing Crumbled Feta Cheese:
- Place the cheese in one or several plastic containers.
- If the containers are not airtight, wrap them with cling wrap.
Like with blocks, we recommend dividing the crumbled cheese into smaller portions, so you don’t have to thaw all of it at once.
Now that you know how to freeze your feta, it’s only right that you learn the correct way to thaw it. The first rule is not to do it at room temperature. Do not leave the cheese out on the kitchen counter to thaw.
When you take it out of the freezer, put it in the fridge. Depending on the size, it can take from 3 to 10 hours to thaw. We always advise folks to leave it in the refrigerator overnight, but if you want a speedier solution, we’ve got one for you. Place the frozen feta in a bowl of cold water, and it should be defrosted in about 2 hours. This isn’t the best way to do it, but it works.
How To Know If Feta Cheese Has Spoiled?
Your cheese has been sitting in the fridge for quite some time now, and you want to know if you can still eat it.
Everyone’s first instinct is to smell the cheese, and if it smells sour or unpleasant, then it’s gone, or starting to go bad.
The next step would be checking the texture. If it’s hard and dry, it’s an indicator that you should throw it away. Eating it probably won’t hurt you, but it’s going to taste awful.
Blocks have an advantage over crumbled feta here. The block’s outer layer may get spoiled, but you can cut it off and eat the remainder. If crumbled cheese has the “symptoms” mentioned above, there’s no saving it.
Mold is another clear sign that feta has spoiled. It should not be consumed at this point, and scraping the mold off isn’t advisable. The latter can be done with some hard cheeses, but not with soft ones like feta, where mold spreads more quickly and impregnates the entire piece.
How Long Does Feta Cheese Last – Conclusion
OK, so we’ve covered a lot of ground today, and now we’d like to wrap up with a summary.
We’ve learned that feta can indeed go bad, but it can last for quite some time. Its shelf life depends on the form and whether it’s in brine or not.
Feta blocks usually come soaked in brine while crumbled feta doesn’t, and therefore, the blocks get preserved for a longer time. The good news is that, even if you bought cheese without brine, you can make this salty liquid yourself.
Freezing feta is an option, but you have to do it properly to get optimal results. If done correctly, frozen feta will last for around half a year. Thawing should never be done at room temperature; instead, do it in the fridge.
In case your feta has been lying around for a while and you’re suspecting that it spoiled, do the following:
- Smell the cheese for a sour odor,
- Check if it dried out or hardened,
- Look for signs of mold.
All of the above are indicators that it has gone bad. If none of these signs are present, then feel free to dig in!