How To Buy and Store Feta Cheese Like a Greek
For instance, you store a block of feta cheese to make a creamy dip or shave over your veggies, and you don’t consume it all; you want to keep that feta, right? However, some people just put it into a Tupperware and toss it back in the fridge after a day or two, what you get is a dried-out, chunky block of feta cheese, and nobody wants to do that. Therefore, here is the proper way to store feta cheese.
Due to the feta cheese’s crumbly texture, it can dry very quickly, even when stored in the refrigerator. For longer storage (more than a week), it is best to keep it in the brine (a solution of salt and water) or salted milk, to keep it from drying out.
If the brine is not available, you can save the cheese by making your brine. Just mix 2 cups of water with 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt, stir it until it dissolves.
Store the leftover feta in the brine and make sure that the cheese is covered completely. The brine is also the flavoring agent that keeps the feta a salty punch.
So if the feta you bought is already salty, place it in plain water to keep the crumbly texture adding no unnecessary flavor.
How To Buy Feta Cheese Like A Greek
First, I must say that Greeks know their cheese. They are the highest consumer of cheese in the world, followed by the French. Well, blame it on the feta. So, here are some points to keep in mind when choosing feta cheese.
Make sure that it only contains sheep’s milk, rennet, and salt
It should not contain anything else, nor contain cow’s milk. Feta cheese made of cow’s milk can crumble easily and may develop a sour taste and does not leave a pleasant aftertaste. Also, they may tend to become mushy and has a bad odor.
If possible, look for feta made in Greece because that’s the only real feta cheese.
I’m not concluding this because I am a Greek if this is the case. Feta is made from Greek and is acknowledged by the European Commission because of different factors. If you want real feta, choose Greek feta cheese, if you want some salty white cheese, you can choose other kinds of cheese.
If you have the opportunity of being able to taste the cheese before you buy it, then do so. There are three different kinds of feta based on texture: hard, medium, and soft. There are also different feta according to aroma: some are saltier, some are spicy, and some are mild. This will all depend on what area and the container the feta is matured in. Most people have favorite feta and they always buy that one. But you can also use different feta for other recipes. For instance, feta for a cheese pie maybe saltier.
Feta should be white, not yellowish
If the feta cheese is yellow, it only means the cheese has been exposed to air outside the brine. Also, the taste should have a tangy flavor and rich aroma. It should not taste bitter, sour, chalky, rancid, or tasteless. Lastly, good feta should have a few tiny holes on the surface.
Ways To Cook With Feta
Feta is a popular cheese and you can see them in different kinds of recipes and meals.
Feta cheese is commonly crumbled over all kinds of leafy salad like spinach salad with radishes or broccoli salad. The feta cheese is the key ingredient in a Greek salad as well, together with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and olives.
Roasted vegetable sides
Feta melts quickly in popular dishes, making it a perfect topping to roasted vegetables like roasted beets or even oven-baked green beans with almonds and feta.
Spanakopita and tiropita or known as spinach pie and cheese pie are two savory Greek pastries, which incorporate feta cheese and other ingredients in between layers of flaky phyllo. They taste salty, crispy, making them great for breakfast and snacks.
Pizzas and flatbreads
Feta cheese is easy to use as a substitute for mozzarella or just a topping over pizza or any flatbread. Also, it is common among flatbreads to incorporate Greek ingredients like olives and onions.
Feta and olive oil
Feta cheese is a great starter that is usually complemented with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of oregano or red pepper flakes. It can be eaten on its own or with slices of toasted bread.
Grilling a few slices of feta cheese is an excellent way to bring out the tangy flavor. It is often made with herbs and spices, then serve alongside some bread and crackers.
Varieties Of Feta
It is impossible to identify each feta from a different country and how they taste like. However, these general guidelines will be helpful when shopping for feta. Like other types of cheese, the best way to find the best feta cheese is to sample different brands and types.
It is traditionally made from sheep’s milk; although there are times there’s a little goat’s milk blended in. it is both salty and tangy with a lemony flavor that is usually rich and creamy. However, there are some versions with more goat’s milk and tend to be more crumbly.
Unfortunately, the cheese may be hard to come by due to the unpasteurized milk restriction and high demand in its country.
Most often made from sheep’s milk or sometimes from the excess of sheep’s milk, which is not used for making Roquefort. The French feta is usually mild and creamy. On the other hand, some feta cheese made from goat’s milk can be slightly drier and tangier. It is often described as mild and creamy, which is served alongside roasted vegetables or spread onto crusty bread.
This feta cheese is made from sheep’s milk with a creamy texture. However, the saltiness varies. Sometimes, it has a bit of grassy or sheepy flavor that is mixed with a yeasty and tangy finish.
It can be made either from sheep, goat, or even cow’s milk. Usually, the predominant flavor is tangy, and the texture is more crumbly and less creamy.
It is most often made from sheep’s milk, which is a rich, creamy, and not too salty flavor.
How To Store Feta Cheese
Feta should be protected against exposure to air, which will result in drying out and cause a change in taste either it becomes sharper or sour. Here are some ways on how to store it properly.
Store in brine
Feta is often sold in blocks packed in a brine solution (heavily salted water). It can be kept refrigerated or keep it in the brine solution then cover. If during use, the amount of brine will gradually decrease, make more. To do homemade brine, mix 1 pound of Kosher salt with 1 gallon of water. The salt might not be dissolved completely, but this is fine.
While feta can be eaten fresh, the flavor is more pronounced if it is aged in a brine solution. To make a brine solution, here are the steps:
- Make a brine solution with the use of ⅓ cup non-iodized salt and ½ gallon of water.
- Place the cheese in the brine solution in a jar with a lid in the fridge.
- Brine it for 4 to 5 days, if you are using store-bought goat’s milk or for 30 days if you are using farm-fresh goat’s milk.
Tip: if you find that your cheese does not set firmly enough, some cheese makers suggest mixing ⅛ teaspoon of calcium chloride diluted in ¼ cup of water into the milk, the next time you store feta.
Store on paper
Barrel-aged feta is commonly sold straight from the barrel that can be wrapped in lightweight paper, then in a plastic zip-top bag. Keep the feta in the paper, even when it gets soggy from the moisture. Then keep both in the plastic bag or plastic wrap.
Store in olive oil
This is commonly called “marinated feta”, depending on how you plan to use the cheese. This might be the solution for at least part of your feta. You can place chunks of feta in glass jars to at least half-inch of the top and then cover it completely with olive oil. Seal it lightly then store it. Do not refrigerate it.
Freeze the feta
Feta can be frozen; however, the texture will change slightly. After, defrosting, you can use the feta to top on salads or in cooked dishes rather than as slices. To freeze the feta, wrap it in airtight plastic packaging before freezing. Thaw in the refrigerator without removing the wrapping. When defrosted, (if not used), store the feta in brine or olive oil.
Ways To Cook Feta Cheese
Feta cheese is great in appetizers, side dishes, and ingredients in salads, dishes, and even pastries. Aside from Greek salad, you can use feta cheese in a wide array of recipes.
Spinach pie with Feta (Spanakopita)
Spanakopita is a wonderful meal that is perfect for brunch, parties, and a light lunch or dinner. Use phyllo dough, nicely buttered, then fill it with a mixture of onions, spinach, feta, spices, herbs, and seasonings before baking it.
With the addition of feta cheese, it can add salty creaminess to a fresh chickpea salad. This salad can be served for lunch. It also complements grilled meat for dinner.
Beets and feta are a perfect combination. The earthy veggie and salty cheese together with a lightly sweet and tangy vinaigrette make this beet salad worth remembering.
Feta stuffed chicken breast
This meal is filled with cheese and herbs, then baked in a quick tomato sauce. Serve it over pasta for a fancy dinner. It looks like a dish that takes a long-time preparation, but only takes a few minutes.
Turkey and Hummus Sandwich
Do not settle for the same old turkey sandwich. You can add some creamy hummus, red onion, and creamy feta cheese. Make sure to use fresh sourdough bread for the turkey and hummus sandwich to make it taste restaurant-made.
Roasted Carrots with Feta and Dukkah
Roasted carrots are a lovely side dish for roasted chicken, pork, or as part of a vegetarian spread. Feta cheese is a simple topping that you can crumble on it. Meanwhile, a dukkah is an Egyptian spice, which includes seeds, nuts, and some feta cheese is a pleasant touch.
How Long Will It Last?
Feta cheese is a great cheese that needs to be kept in the refrigerator and can be used as an appetizer and can be put to many dishes like pizza, pasta, and salads. You must keep the feta in its brine in a covered container and it will last for weeks up to months. If the feta tastes too salty, you need to rinse it with water before serving.
Top 5 Best Feta Cheese Brands
Valbreso French Feta Cheese
This cheese from Valbreso is one of the best feta cheeses available in the market today. Many cheese lovers will find it particularly fresh and light in taste compare to other brands. It has a rich and moist texture but also maintains a good balance between creamy and tangy.
Sheep’s Milk White Cheese Made in Bulgaria
Obviously, this feta cheese is made in Bulgaria. It is made with real sheep’s milk and can easily hold its shape. This feta cheese has a strong salty taste and aroma, combined with a smooth and creamy texture that fans of Feta cheese love.
Pinar White Feta Cheese
Another prime Feta cheese from Bulgaria is Pinar White Feta Cheese. The manufacturing process is different in this region and will not have a distinct aftertaste that is common among Fetas. Though this feature may be a boon to some customers who prefer feta without the aftertaste, this cheese comes with a typically smooth and creamy texture.
Epiros Original Feta Packed in Brine
Epiros Feta Cheese has a rich and strong taste and aroma. It has a distinctive smooth and creamy texture that makes a perfect snack or topping at the next gathering. It is an ideal cheese for a nice Greek salad or complemented with olive oil. It is an award-winning Feta brand that you will surely love.
Ulker White Feta Cheese
There is not much information about the manufacturer of this cheese; however, most users will enjoy the salty and briny taste and its crumbly texture. For some consumers, this Feta was a little drier than most. Feta is often made with different degrees of moisture to heighten its versatility.
Difference Between Feta Cheese And Goat Cheese
Feta cheese and goat cheese or also known as chevre are often confused with one another. However, they differ from several distinct points.
While both kinds of cheese can include goat milk as the key ingredient, the traditional feta cheese is made from sheep’s milk mostly with a maximum of 30% goat milk. If it is more, the cheese cannot be categorized as feta anymore. Goat cheese is made entirely of goat milk with no milk sheep.
Feta cheese is known to contain certain kinds of bacteria that are capable of killing harmful bacteria. Goat cheese on the other hand is known for its high protein content. It is higher in calories than feta that contains more saturated fat. Meanwhile, feta contains higher cholesterol, sodium, and carbohydrates. The differences in the nutrients are not that large but not that significant.
Feta cheese is an aged cheese, meaning it has matured for several weeks, giving it a crumbly texture. The most common goat cheese is fresh cheese, meaning it didn’t go through the aging process. With this, it will not result in a crumbly cheese but it has a creamy texture and is spreadable.
The feta cheese has salt added to the cheese, which is also brined. The goat cheese is not brined and instead has salt added to the mixture. As a result, you get a feta cheese that is saltier than goat cheese.
In the past years, feta cheese was more readily available than goat cheese. It is made more affordable than goat’s milk. Over the years, goat cheese became more accessible and its price became cheaper. With the prices of cheeses getting neck and neck, goat cheese is still more expensive than feta in many parts of the world.