If you are planning to make a delicious and refreshing Greek salad, you can not imagine it without the salty and creamy Greek cheese called feta. Alongside mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and a few others, feta cheese is one of the most popular types of cheese.
It is also quite affordable since, aside from Greek markets, you can find it in almost any grocery store or supermarket.
You can eat it on its own, put it on a cheese board, or incorporate it in various cooked dishes. Feta cheese tastes amazing and it is a perfect combination of saltiness and tanginess with a quite rich flavor.
So, it is no surprise that there are so many questions related to this amazing cheese. One of them is related to the right storage and that question is “Can you freeze feta cheese?”.
My direct answer is “Yes, you can definitely freeze feta cheese!”. But, you have to know a bit more about freezing feta cheese in order to do it right.
This article discusses exactly that, so I warmly suggest you continue reading.
Can You Freeze Feta Cheese?
Freezing is one of the most popular ways to extend the shelf life of various types of foods. But, can feta cheese be frozen? Fortunately, feta cheese can be frozen. However, there are some questions you need to ask yourself before you do that.
In this article, I will explain how exactly freezing affects your feta cheese and whether you really want to freeze it after reading this.
If you eventually decide to go through with the freezing process, you will find out what the main two ways to freeze feta cheese are, as well as how to store your feta in the freezer properly.
You will also learn in which case you have to defrost feta cheese and how to do that the right way. And, finally, I will reveal to you some interesting ways to use that frozen and thawed cheese and enjoy it that way.
So, let’s finally begin with freezing your feta cheese.
How Freezing Affects Feta Cheese?
Before you freeze your feta, you have to know what are the consequences of that and if you really want to do that. Although there are no spectacular changes in frozen and thawed feta cheese, feta isn’t the same cheese anymore. So, what happens after the freezing process?
Well, when you freeze and thaw your feta cheese, its texture changes, i.e. it becomes crumblier and a bit drier. When it comes to the flavor profile, the feta cheese loses a bit of its specific saltiness and richness.
So, if your intention is to eat fresh feta cheese on its own after defrosting it, forget about it. You will most likely be disappointed. However, you can still use it in some other ways where these differences won’t be that significant.
So, you can still use thawed feta in salads. Although it won’t be perfect, it will still be quite delicious and refreshing. And, you can use it in cooked dishes where the feta will soften, so the texture won’t matter.
The only problem might be the lack of saltiness, but you can easily solve it by just adding a pinch or two and you will be good to go.
So, if you’ve decided that you want to freeze your feta cheese, let’s take a look at how to do that the right way.
How To Freeze Feta Cheese Properly? 2 Freezing Solutions
When you decide to freeze your feta, there are two ways to do that based on the shape of your feta cheese. So, you are either dealing with feta cheese crumbles or feta cheese blocks. Both types have their own freezing process which I will explain below. So, let’s take a look.
1. How To Freeze Crumbled Feta Cheese?
I will start with crumbled feta cheese. Regardless of whether you crumbled it yourself or bought crumbled feta cheese at the store, the freezing process is the same. Here are the steps you need to follow in order to extend the shelf life of feta cheese that has been crumbled.
STEP 1: When freezing crumbled feta cheese, you first need to pre-freeze it. In order to do that, you need to line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or a silicone mat and spread feta cheese crumbles evenly on one layer.
STEP 2: Put that sheet with feta cheese crumbles into the freezer and leave it there until it freezes.
STEP 3: When feta cheese crumbles are completely frozen, pull them out of the freezer and transfer them into a container or a freezer bag. Just make sure to split apart the crumbles that have stuck together by using a spatula.
STEP 4: Finally, you can label the bag or container with the exact date of storage and put it in the freezer.
2. How To Freeze Feta Blocks?
Although you can freeze the whole block, I would always suggest you slice your feta cheese into smaller portions and freeze it. Doing this will make it easier to handle after you thaw the cheese instead of freezing it in the block form.
STEP 1: First, if the cheese is in its original packaging, you have to open it.
STEP 2: Next, you have to get rid of the brine. In order to do that, it is best to use a paper towel, i.e. you have to pat the block with a paper towel.
STEP 3: After getting rid of the brine, it is time to portion your feta cheese. In order to do that, you can just slice the cheese into small portions by your preference or you can cube your feta cheese into feta cubes. It is up to you to decide. I also do the “portioning” thing when freezing Mozzarella.
STEP 4: Now, it is time for pre-freezing. In order to do that, you first need to line a cookie sheet with a silicone mat and put the slices or cubes of feta cheese onto it so that they do not touch each other.
STEP 5: Put the sheet with feta cheese slices in the freezer and let it freeze for a couple of hours.
STEP 6: After the slices of feta cheese have frozen, you can pull them out from the freezer and transfer them into an airtight container or freezer bag. If you are using the freezer bag it is important to suck out as much air as possible in order to avoid freezer burn. Do that by using a vacuum sealer. It is also not a bad idea to wrap those slices in plastic wrap.
STEP 7: Finally, you can label the bag or container with the exact date of storage and put it somewhere deep in the fridge.
How Long Does Feta Cheese Last In The Freezer?
However, you need to be aware of the fact that the quality of feta cheese won’t be that high if you keep it in the freezer for too long. It’s not like the cheese will spoil if you keep it in the freezer for a longer time, but its texture and flavor will certainly deteriorate.
So, I would recommend you keep your feta cheese in the freezer for about 1-3 months in order to preserve its quality and freshness to some extent.
How Do You Defrost Frozen Feta Cheese?
Once you decide to use your frozen feta cheese, one of the solutions is to defrost it first. When you pull it out of the freezer, you shouldn’t let it defrost at room temperature because you will be risking quick spoilage.
It is not like you can’t leave it outside for a couple of minutes, but it is not recommended to leave it there for too long.
Instead, transfer it from the freezer to the fridge. When you do that, do not take it out of the plastic bag or plastic wrap, but put it all together in the fridge.
You can leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours, but I prefer to let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight because that is the safest solution.
Here’s what the USDA says about thawing food in the refrigerator: “Refrigerator thawing takes the longest but the leftovers stay safe the entire time. After thawing, the food should be used within 3 to 4 days or can be refrozen.”
Another way is to defrost it in a bowl of cold water by just transferring it from the freezer to the bowl and letting it defrost there for about 1-2 hours. The USDA suggests changing the water every 30 minutes. Although it is a quicker method, I would always suggest you thaw your cheese in the fridge overnight.
And finally, there is also the situation in which you don’t even have to defrost your feta cheese. If you plan to add feta cheese to some cooked dishes like soups and stews where the feta will melt anyway, you just have to add the frozen feta cheese into the dish and let the temperature do the thing.
Or you can melt the cheese in the microwave.
Top Tips For Freezing Feta Cheese
Since all dairy products, including feta cheese itself, can be very sensitive when it comes to the way they are handled, it is quite important to handle them correctly in order to protect them from spoilage and to preserve their quality. So, here are a few tips to maintain the quality of feta cheese.
• When you freeze your feta cheese, it is a good thing that the internal temperature of your freezer is 0 degrees F because that temperature will definitely protect it from spoiling.
• When using a freezer-friendly plastic bag to store feta cheese blocks or cubes, it is important to suck out all the remaining air from the bag. The best way to do that is to use a vacuum sealer. Speaking from my own experience, it is always better to use a vacuum sealer instead of pushing the air with your hands.
• If you miss the saltiness of your feta cheese, it is best to keep it in the brine. Brine is a liquid made from water and Kosher salt that acts as the preservative for the cheese, preserving its rich salty flavor.
So, in order to do this properly, you’ll need to make your own brine by combining 2 cups of water and 2 tbsp of Kosher salt in a container with an airtight lid. You will add cheese to the container and store it in the fridge. This will help to preserve the saltiness of your feta cheese.
When you decide to use that feta cheese, just cut a slice of the cheese, rinse it with a little running water, serve it, and enjoy.
• If you are not a big fan of saltiness but you just want to boost the flavor of your feta cheese, pour a bit of olive oil on it and you will achieve a wonderful flavor with some pungent notes.
• If you really don’t like the saltiness of feta cheese, you can always put it in a bowl of water for about 1-2 hours and the saltiness will be gone.
• Aside from water, you can also use milk to lower the level of saltiness of your feta cheese and your feta cheese will be less salty and more creamy. What more could you ask for?
• And, finally, when you thaw feta cheese, always look to use it within three days after thawing to avoid quality deterioration or even spoilage.
What Are The Spoilage Signs Of Feta Cheese?
Sometimes you may think that you’ve handled your food perfectly by following all steps for storing properly, but then the food spoils. The same can happen to your feta cheese. So, in order to be 100% sure that you are dealing with good cheese, here are the signs that your cheese has gone bad.
• Mold: In order to understand if your feta cheese has really gone bad or not, you first have to look at it carefully. If you see any discoloration, your cheese has probably become moldy. For some hard types of cheese like Parmesan and Asiago, mold can be removed and they can be consumed freely after that.
It is a different situation with soft cheeses like feta. When you see any mold on feta cheese, you must immediately discard it.
• Sour Smell: Although feta cheese itself doesn’t smell quite nice either, you will be able to sense that acidic smell of feta cheese only if you bring your nose very close to it. However, if your nose is far from the cheese and you sense an unpleasant sour smell, your feta is probably bad and you should not consume it.
• Dry And Hard Texture: Naturally, feta cheese is a soft type of cheese. So, if you notice that your feta is too dry and hard, it might be a sign of spoilage.
• Sour Taste: Finally, you can taste a very small piece of feta cheese and if it holds a sour and strong peppery taste, then that is a sign that it has gone bad and that you shouldn’t continue to consume it.
How To Use Leftover Feta Cheese?
Finally, I will reveal some interesting ways to use your feta cheese leftovers in the best possible way. As I already said, frozen and thawed feta cheese is not ideal for consumption on its own. It is much better to incorporate it into some kind of cooked dish. So, here are a few ideas you must try.
• I will start with my favorite way to use feta cheese. I really like to use it as a topping for my pizza. It gives the pizza a little bit of saltiness and it enriches its flavor like no other cheese.
• Aside from pizza, you can also add feta cheese to cooked and baked dishes like stews, casseroles, and frittatas.
• You can put your feta cheese on top of mashed potatoes or pasta to give them some extra flavor and creaminess.
• Soups can also benefit from some added feta, especially if you want your soup to be more creamy and flavorful.
• Finally, if you want to simplify things a bit, you can just add your feta cheese to salads. Although this is not my favorite solution personally, you should give it a try because it might suit your taste buds.
How Long Does Feta Cheese Last In The Fridge?
The shelf life of feta cheese in the fridge depends on the type (feta cheese blocks or crumbles) and whether it has been opened or not.
Feta cheese blocks in an unopened package last about 2-3 months in the fridge.
Feta cheese crumbles do not last quite that long because they are not packed in brine, but they should be good up to a week past the labeled date.
If opened, both types of feta will last up to 5-7 days in the fridge. Only if you add brine to them, they should be good for about a month.
Can You Melt Feta Cheese?
When it comes to melting feta cheese, there are many types of cheese that are more suitable for melting than feta cheese. Although some people think that feta cheese melts a little bit when you expose it to heat, it really doesn’t. It only softens so it looks like it melted.
And even if you want to soften it, you need a lot of heat to accomplish that. However, this softening process makes feta ideal for some cooked dishes like creamy soups, stews, casseroles, etc.
Final Verdict On Freezing Feta
And here are the final words on freezing feta cheese. Now you know that the answer to the question of whether you can freeze feta cheese is positive. However, one question remains and it is “Does feta cheese freeze well?”.
By now you know that the flavor and texture of feta cheese deteriorates a bit after you freeze and thaw it, so it is not ideal if you want to consume it on its own.
But, if your plan is to incorporate it into some cooked dishes like soups, stews, or casseroles, you can freely go for it.
You just need to follow the freezing and thawing steps explained above and your cheese will be perfectly fine.