A month-old feta cheese?
It looks good, but you’re still wondering – does feta cheese go bad?
Since it’s a dairy product, it’s clear that the answer is yes.
But when stored properly, you can keep it fresh in your fridge for a very long time.
In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about extending the shelf life of feta cheese.
Let’s jump straight in!
How Long Can Feta Cheese Last
Feta cheese is sold either crumbled or in a block. Crumbled feta is more convenient, but it’s harder and drier than feta in a block. That’s because it contains powdered cellulose to prevent caking.
Because of all that, crumbled feta cheese will stay fresh for up to a week after you open the packaging.
A block of feta can be packed in three different ways – in plastic wrap, in a container with brine, and in a container without it.
When submerged in brine, feta cheese is protected from air exposure. As long as you keep it in brine and stored in the fridge, feta cheese will be soft and fresh for up to three months.
Without brine, an opened packaging of feta cheese won’t last you very long. Unless you add the brine, it will last you no more than seven days. The exact amount of time depends on the brand, so the date on the label is your best bet.
Finally, some people prefer using olive oil instead of brine. Olive oil keeps feta cheese moist and infuses it with herbal and earthy notes of spices you add to it. It keeps it fresh for about four weeks, shorter than brine.
|Block in brine||~3 months|
|Plastic wrap/No brine||7 days|
|Crumbled feta||7 days|
|In olive oil||~1 month|
If you’re sure you can’t eat the whole thing within these timeframes, you can always freeze feta cheese. That way, it can retain its freshness for up to 6 months.
How To Tell If Feta Cheese Is Bad
If you don’t keep it in an airtight container, feta will quickly dry out in the fridge. While it might still be edible health-wise, it won’t taste like much.
Because of its high moisture content, feta cheese is prone to growing mold. One of the most obvious signs of spoilage is fuzzy green specks on it. If you notice mold forming, you should throw away the whole packaging.
While you can cut out the moldy area on hard cheese, that technique doesn’t work here. Because feta is a soft cheese, mold spores can easily contaminate the entire thing.
Fresh feta cheese is smooth, crumbly, and a bit creamy. But in time, it will become dry, hard, and rubbery. It might also turn darker with a film of slime. If you notice that kind of change in appearance in feta cheese, it’s time to get rid of it.
Another obvious sign of spoilage is the smell. Once it turns bad, feta cheese will smell kind of like sour cream. The odor is so apparent, you’ll notice it as soon as you open the container.
Finally, our taste buds can also determine whether or not feta cheese has gone bad. When it’s fresh, feta cheese tastes salty, buttery, and a bit tangy. But once it spoils, it will turn overly sour and pungent.
How To Store Feta Cheese
Given it’s a dairy product, feta cheese must be kept in a fridge. But what’s also important is to keep it in an airtight container. Otherwise, you’re creating a perfect environment for mold growth.
As we already established, some brands sell feta cheese in packaging without brine. If you plan on eating the whole thing within the next few days, you don’t have to worry too much about proper storage.
In fact, a block of feta cheese will easily stay fresh and moist in cling film for several days.
But to keep it edible for more than a week, you’ll have to add brine. Luckily, you can do it at home without any special ingredients.
Just mix a cup of water with a teaspoon of salt, and fill the container until feta cheese is fully submerged. You should change the brine every few days, as it will turn milky.
However, striking the right balance between pH and calcium levels can be hard. And when not done correctly, it can cause feta cheese to become slimy.
If you notice this happening, there are a few tricks you can do. You can either use whey instead of water or add some Calcium Chloride (CaCI2). Both of these methods should help you achieve the right balance.
But if you don’t want to play the guessing game, that’s alright. Another option you can try is to use olive oil instead of brine. Not only does olive oil keep feta cheese fresh and moist, but it also allows you to play around with spices and herbs.
Again, it’s important to completely submerge the feta in olive oil and store it in an airtight container. Before consumption, let feta cheese marinade in olive oil for at least two days.
In lower temperatures, olive oil may solidify. Prior to eating, let feta cheese sit at room temperature for an hour to soften.
Finally, let’s talk about freezing. When frozen, feta cheese can stay fresh for up to half a year. But once thawed, it will change in both texture and flavor. Because of that, it will be more suited for cooking.
When freezing, it’s important to wrap feta cheese in cling film before being stored in a releasable bag. The reason we do this is to avoid freezer burn.
To defrost feta cheese, transfer it to the fridge so that it can thaw overnight. Alternatively, you can put it in the sink under running cool water. Avoid thawing at room temperature, as feta cheese can spoil in just a few hours.
When it comes to shelf life, brine really makes the difference.
Without it, feta cheese will stay fresh for only a week or so. But with brine, you can extend its shelf life up to three months. Just make sure to keep the right pH and calcium balance, or feta can become slimy.
Alternatively, you can use olive oil to keep feta fresh and moist.
It’s not as long-lasting a solution as brine is, but it gives feta cheese additional flavors.