Feta cheese is a popular ingredient in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. It is a creamy, salty, and slightly tangy cheese variety enjoyed by many people. Unfortunately, the shelf life of this cheese is not long enough.
Can you freeze feta cheese? You can freeze feta cheese to extend its shelf life for up to 3 months. If frozen keeping all the necessary conditions and thawed in the right way, the texture and the flavor of the cheese will not suffer much. Defrosted feta cheese becomes slightly grainy and less salty but is still enjoyable in many dishes.
Read this article to learn all about freezing feta cheese and some tips on how to restore its flavor profile once defrosted.
Freezing Feta Cheese – Does It Work?
Freezing is a popular and easy method of extending the shelf life of many products, including cheese. While some types of cheese freeze well and don’t change their qualities when defrosted, others are not suitable to be kept in the cold storage.
Feta cheese is not the best cheese to be frozen as it does undergo some changes as far as the flavor profile and the texture go. However, it is also not the worst one.
If you prepare, freeze, and defrost the cheese in a proper way, you will be able to make good use out of the cheese.
If you are thinking about buying a lot of feta cheese and stocking up on it by freezing, you might need to consider every aspect of it. We recommend you learn all about the changes this cheese variety undergoes in the freezer and decide whether it is worth it or not.
How Does Freezing Affect Feta Cheese?
Freezing affects feta cheese in the sense that it slightly changes the way the cheese tastes. Also, being kept in the cold storage, feta cheese changes its consistency which narrows down the circle of dishes you can use it in.
Here’s how freezing affects feta cheese.
Changes in Flavor
Feta cheese is a popular Greek cheese variety with a pleasantly tangy taste. It is also rich, slightly salty, and creamy at the same.
When you freeze feta cheese and then thaw it, the flavor is not as intense and rich. Thawed feta cheese is also less salty than it was before freezing.
Thus, if you are paying a good amount of money for authentic Greek feta cheese wishing to indulge in its rich flavor, we recommend you don’t store it in the freezer.
On the other hand, it is best to put the cheese in the freezer and save it for later use rather than toss it away.
Changes in Texture
As far as the texture goes, frozen and thawed feta cheese is generally crumblier. If you are using crumbled feta cheese, you will notice less of a difference once the cheese is thawed.
Feta cheese in bricks is preserved in some kind of a liquid, such as water, brine, milk, or olive oil. The liquid keeps the cheese soft and creamy.
When freezing, the cheese is deprived of its liquid, which causes it to dry up a little. Additionally, there may be up to 56% water content in feta cheese.
Once the cheese is in the cold storage, the water forms ice crystals, and separation takes place between the cheese ingredients. This leaves the cheese crumblier than usual.
How to Freeze Feta Cheese
Feta cheese comes in different forms. You may buy it in blocks or you may buy crumbled feta cheese.
Depending on the type you have at hand, the preparation process has only slight differences. However, it is the most important process in freezing feta cheese. If you do a poor job, your product will go to waste.
Here are step by step guides on how you should freeze feta cheese whether you have it blocks or crumbles.
Freezing Feta in Blocks
If you are a fan of authentic feta cheese, you are probably buying it from Greek markets. In these markets, the cheese is sold in quite large bricks in salty water, i.e. brine.
Here is how to store feta cheese in the freezer if you have it in blocks.
- If your feta cheese is in brine or some other liquid, strain it. Unopened feta should also be opened and removed from the liquid.
- Pat dry the cheese with paper towels. Don’t bother to remove all the liquid as it will dry up the cheese completely.
- Divide the cheese into portions. Decide on the portion sizes depending on what dishes you intend to cook with feta and for how many people you are cooking. If you don’t know what to do, it is best to go with smaller portions rather than large ones.
- Time for the packaging. To store feta cheese in the cold storage so that it keeps well, you need to pay attention to how you package it.
You need to wrap each piece of feta cheese with a cling wrap. This will ensure that no air gets to the cheese and it will not suffer freezer burn. Put the pieces into sealable plastic bags removing as much air as possible.
You can also cut the cheese into small cubes if you are going to need it so. In this case, put the feta cubes into a plastic bag and make sure to remove all the air.
If for some reason you want to freeze the cheese for a couple of days, you don’t need to do as thorough of a job. Simply put the cheese in a plastic bag and use it whenever needed.
Label the bag with the date and put it in an airtight container for extra protection.
Freezing Crumbled Feta
Feta is also sold crumbled. Crumbled feta is more versatile and thus is a favorite for many. It is convenient for all kinds of uses, from topping salads to using in the stuffing.
Here is how you should prep and package crumbled feta cheese to store it in the freezer.
- Divide the crumbled feta cheese into portions or freeze it all as one portion.
- You may use the plastic container the cheese comes in to store it in the fridge. If you do so, make sure to wrap the container with a few layers of cling wrap.
You can also freeze crumbled feta in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag. If you know the cheese will sit in the freezer for a few months, add another protection layer in the form of a plastic wrap.
Add a date and put the cheese in the freezer.
How Long Does Feta Cheese Last in The Freezer
Feta cheese, like all other dairy products, doesn’t have too long of a shelf-life.
It comes with a best-used-by date which you can extend with a week if the cheese is in brine and has not been opened yet.
Feta cheese that has been opened and is being kept with no liquid will not last long. It will start to go bad in around a week.
Opened feta in brine, on the other hand, will keep for about a month in the fridge while retaining its best qualities. Olive oil will also extend the shelf life of feta cheese for up to a month as it is a natural preservative.
Storing feta cheese in the freezer will further extend the life of the product.
Feta cheese in the freezer will retain its best qualities for about a month. However, it will be good to use for 2 to 3 months.
Keep in mind that how well the cheese will keep in the freezer depends on how good of a job you have done when preparing and packaging it for the cold storage.
Signs That Feta Cheese Has Gone Bad
Even if you think you have managed to provide all the right conditions for the feta cheese to keep well, it may still go bad for whatever reason. Thus, you should know how to detect the signs that indicate that feta cheese has gone bad.
- Sour smell. Dairy products usually smell sour and off-putting when they go bad. Whether your feta cheese is freshly opened or frozen and thawed, make sure it smells right before you consume it.
- Mold. There are types of cheese that don’t need to be discarded when you find a mold spot in them. You just cut that part out and the rest is good to be eaten.
With feta cheese, this is not the case. It is a very soft cheese and the mold spreads rather quickly through it. Thus, if there is mold in feta cheese, don’t consume it.
How to Defrost Feta Cheese
If there is anything you should know about defrosting feta cheese is that you shouldn’t thaw it on your kitchen counter or anywhere at room temperature.
If you need to use feta cheese in a recipe, transfer it from the cold storage to the refrigerator a few hours before cooking. It may take the cheese anywhere from 3 to 12 hours to thaw depending on the size of the cheese pieces.
A good rule of thumb is leaving the cheese to thaw in the fridge overnight.
If you need the cheese as soon as possible, there is a method to speed up the defrosting process.
Take out feta cheese from the freezer and put it in a bowl of cold water. This way the cheese will thaw in 1-2 hours.
How to Use Defrosted Feta Cheese
Everyone loves a delicious Greek salad with creamy feta cubes. Defrosted feta cheese, however, may not be the best fit for this salad or any kind of salad in general.
There is nothing wrong in using it in salads. But take into account that the cheese may be watery.
If you do decide to use defrosted feta to make a salad, strain the cheese well and try making a small amount first.
Previously frozen feta cheese will perform best in cooked meals. Here are some ideas on how to use frozen and defrosted feta cheese:
- Melt it over pasta or mashed potatoes.
- Top stews and casseroles with crumbled feta cheese.
- Use it in making pizzas alongside the stretchy and melty mozzarella cheese
- Add it to sauces to top meat and roasted vegetables
- Use it in pureed soups or simply put some cheese crumbles on top for extra flavor.
Thawed feta cheese is best used within 3 days.
Don’t try to refreeze feta cheese with the expectation of extending its shelf life even more. Doing this comes with serious health risks, such as food poisoning.
Freezing Feta Cheese Tips
Freezing and defrosting feta cheese alters the texture and taste of the cheese. However, there are ways of bringing these changes to the minimum or restoring the lost flavor properties once the cheese is thawed.
Here are some tips to make your feta-freezing experience better.
Tip #1: Use a vacuum sealer.
When freezing crumbled feta cheese or feta cut in cubes, removing the air out of the plastic bag is a relatively more difficult task. This way of freezing feta is more preferable if you have a vacuum sealer.
The latter certainly does a better job of removing the air from the plastic bag filled with crumbled feta or feta cubes. Cheese prepared in these ways is more exposed to air which is hard to remove by hand.
Tip #2: Keep the cheese in brine
As we have already mentioned, defrosted feta cheese loses some of its flavor properties, including saltiness. If you like feta that is not salty, it may taste right for you.
But if you want to bring back the saltiness, keeping defrosted feta cheese in brine for 1-2 hours will improve the taste.
In case you don’t know what brine is, it is the salty solution in which feta is kept when you buy it in stores. To make it yourself, mix 2 teaspoons of kosher salt in 2 cups of water.
Tip #3: Add olive oil for extra flavor
If you don’t need the defrosted cheese to be salty, another way of boosting its flavor is putting some virgin olive oil over the cheese.
The oil will give feta cheese a pungent taste. You can add dried herbs for extra hues of flavor.
Tips #4: Submerge in water to reduce saltiness
If your feta cheese was initially very salty, it may remain salty even after being frozen and defrosted. In this case, the solution is to submerge the cheese into water in order to balance out the taste.
Milk is also used to submerge feta in to make the cheese a little less salty and much creamier.
Can You Freeze Feta Cheese Dip?
Leftover feta cheese dip can easily be saved for another occasion.
To do so, pour the deep into an airtight container. Before you close the lid, cover the sauce with a layer of plastic wrap to prevent the surface of the sauce from forming a dry crust.
Wrap the container with cling wrap to make sure that no air penetrates the container.
Can You Freeze Cooked Feta Cheese?
You can safely freeze any dishes that contain feta cheese.
The instructions of freezing dishes that contain feta are the same as freezing fresh feta cheese. You should wrap it with a few layers of plastic paper and put it in a sealable plastic bag.
Using foil as an extra layer of protection over the plastic wrap is also a good option.