Feta cheese adds such a nice salty tang to so many dishes, but sometimes you find yourself buying more than can be consumed at one meal. What should you do with that extra cheese? Can feta cheese go bad? How should you store feta to extend its shelf life? Read on to find out!
Can Feta Cheese Go Bad?
Like all cheeses, feta cheese can go bad. The shelf life of feta cheese can actually vary pretty greatly, depending on how it was packaged originally. No matter how the cheese is stored, it should always be refrigerated to prevent spoilage for as long as possible.
An unopened package of crumbled feta cheese will have a shelf life of about a week past the printed date. Once opened, crumbled feta will only last in the refrigerator around five days, regardless of the date printed on the package.
If the cheese comes in a shrink wrapped block that is not brined, an unopened package of feta will have a shelf life of about a month. Once opened, the shelf life reduces to about a week.
Brined feta will last far longer than cheese that is not stored in brine. So long as the cheese stays submerged and sealed, it will have a shelf life of up to six months. Of course, you should always check for signs of spoilage before consuming any cheese, just to be sure. Once the feta cheese has been opened, the shelf life reduces to about a month, so long as the cheese is still stored in the brine.
Signs That Feta Cheese Has Spoiled
Feta cheese is likely to dry out in the refrigerator. Once it becomes dry, hard and gritty, it should not be consumed. While it may still be safe to eat at this point, the texture and taste will be quite unpleasant. Therefore, crumbled feta should be discarded at this point, while you can just cut the hard part off of a block of feta.
Like all cheeses, feta cheese can mold after a while. If there are any signs of mold, the cheese should not be consumed. While you can scrape spots of mold off of harder cheeses, this is not recommended with a soft cheese like feta, as the mold spores can easily spread over the whole piece of cheese.
Smell is another good indicator of spoilage. If the cheese smells sour, or unpleasant in any way, it should not be consumed.
Storing Feta Cheese
Feta cheese can be purchased either crumbled or in blocks. Typically, the blocks will have a longer shelf life, especially if they are brined. If you have purchased a block of feta that did not come in a brining solution, you can actually extend its shelf life by making your own.
Simply dissolve ¼ cup of salt into three cups of cold water. Place the block of feta into a large, sealable container, and pour the brine solution on top until the cheese is completely covered. Tightly seal the container, and store in the refrigerator. Feta cheese should last for up to a month stored this way.
While freezing feta cheese will preserve it for up to six months, the texture and taste of the cheese may change after thawing. Because of this, using thawed feta is only recommended in dishes that will be cooked. To freeze crumbled feta, simply store the crumbles in a tightly sealed container. A block of feta can be wrapped in damp paper towels and wax paper before being placed in a tightly sealed container for freezing.
To thaw feta, place the container in the refrigerator overnight. Thawing at room temperature is not recommended. Thawed feta should not be refrozen, and should be consumed within one week.