Here’s all about the shelf life and spoilage of feta cheese. Learn how long feta lasts and what are the spoilage signs.
Got some leftover feta and not sure how long can you store it in the fridge? How long is feta good for after opening?
Or maybe yours has been in storage for quite some time, and you want to ensure it’s still safe to eat. That makes you wonder: how do you tell if feta is bad?
If so, this article is for you. Read on.
Table of Contents
- Does Feta Cheese Go Bad?
- How Long Does Feta Cheese Last?
- How to Tell if Feta Is Bad?
- How to Store Feta Cheese
- Freezing Feta
Does Feta Cheese Go Bad?
Feta cheese has a shelf life that’s longer than a couple of months and sometimes even more than a year, but it doesn’t last forever. Even if you store it in its original packaging or submerge it in brine, its quality will gradually degrade to the point it’s no good to eat.
That said, if you keep the dairy product well-brined, the process takes more than a few weeks after opening the package. In other words, feta cheese isn’t that perishable if you store it properly.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the shelf life of feta.
How Long Does Feta Cheese Last?
An unopened feta cheese lasts for a couple of weeks beyond the printed date. After opening, leftover feta keeps for 3 to 5 days as-is or for more than a month if you submerge it in brine.
Feta cheese typically comes with a shelf life of 1 to 3 months, but it’s not uncommon to find a package labeled to retain quality for a year after the packaging date. In other words, feta has a long storage time, and that’s true for both feta blocks and crumbled feta.
Since feta lasts that long, assuming that an unopened package will keep quality for a few extra weeks past the “expiration” date is not a stretch. After all, those dates are always pretty conservative.
That said, the longer the cheese sits in storage, the worse its quality will likely be. So if you’re after the best possible flavor, eat your feta fresh. Feta isn’t brie cheese that gets better over time if you like its taste intense rather than mild.
Opened leftover feta keeps for about 3 to 5 days if you just cover and refrigerate it. But if you submerge the leftover block or crumbles in brine (salty water), they last for a month or even longer.
In other words, storing leftover feta is all about the brine (similar to fresh mozzarella).
If you place the leftovers in an airtight container or freezer bag and refrigerate them, they’ll keep for a couple of days, but that’s it. After that, the cheese will dry out, crumble, and might grow mold. The brine protects it from all of that.
The only downside of storing opened feta in brine, especially homemade brine, is that it might become too salty. But the good news is, you can fix that if need be.
(We’ll talk more about making brine at home in the storage section.)
For now, let’s talk about the spoilage signs so that you know when you should toss your feta.
How to Tell if Feta Is Bad?
Discard your feta if it’s moldy, smells super sour, is dry, hard, or grainy, or if you’ve stored it as-is for more than a week. You should also toss it if its quality is no longer up to your liking, e.g., if the block has become crumbly, developed some holes, or doesn’t smell fresh anymore.
Those are the typical signs of spoilage for feta.
Mold usually shows up if you store the cheese as-is or not fully submerged, and if you notice any, it’s game over for your feta.
While you can scrape spots of mold off of harder cheeses, this is not recommended for 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.
Finally, there’s texture change.
If the feta has become dry, firm, or grainy, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s spoiled. But that happening is a good indicator that the cheese has been stored in poor conditions or for too long, and that’s why you should toss it.
One thing that’s not an indicator of spoilage is the feta tasting too salty.
How to Fix Too Salty Feta?
If your feta is too salty, submerge it in water for a couple of hours before using it. That water will pull some of the salt from the cheese, resulting in a more mildly tasting feta.
The process responsible for that happening is called osmosis, and it works both ways. So if your feta is too mild for your liking, you can submerge it in salted water (say two teaspoons of salt per cup of water) for a couple of hours.
After that time, your feta should be noticeably saltier.
How to Store Feta Cheese
Store your feta cheese in the fridge. After opening the package, you can store the leftovers in an airtight container or freezer bag for a few days or submerge them in brine and store for more than a month.
If your feta comes submerged in brine, you can reuse the brining solution. That’s the best option, as storing feta in its original brine won’t change how salty it is.
(Feta’s flavor alters slightly over time, though.)
But if there isn’t enough brine to work with, that’s not a big deal. You can make your own brine by dissolving 2 teaspoons of salt per 1 cup of water, and make as much as you need to cover the cheese.
The only downside is that the brine might make your feta a bit saltier than it was originally. If that’s the case, read the section on spoilage to learn how to deal with that.
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 you will cook.
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 only be refrozen if defrosted in the fridge and should be used within a couple of days.