Greece – the land of beautiful islands, the home of democracy and western philosophy, and of course feta cheese. Of all of these, my personal favorite is feta cheese. Okay, democracy is pretty great too, but feta is one of the best cheese varieties in the world. It has a unique creamy, tangy, and salty flavor that can’t be matched and it goes well in nearly everything from pasta to salads. It’s almost impossible to find anything wrong with feta.
‘Almost’ is the keyword there though. Unfortunately there are a couple of drawbacks with feta. For one, it can be rather expensive to find good feta. Secondly, it doesn’t have a very long shelf life after it’s been opened.
Both of these things make it a great candidate as a type of food you’d like to freeze to prevent it from going bad. So, can you freeze feta cheese? The good news is that yes, you certainly can!
Read on to learn everything you need to know about freezing feta cheese.
Does Feta Cheese Freeze Well?
Yes and no. Many people say that it does freeze well. In the experience of others, however, it hasn’t frozen well.
It seems that the brand of feta can determine how well it freezes and how it can be used afterward. However, it can also be personal preference and how strict your guidelines are. But, considering how poorly some types of cheese freeze – like cottage cheese – feta cheese freezes relatively well.
However, there are bound to be some changes in the taste and texture. The extent of these changes depends on if it was frozen properly and how long it was frozen for.
So, if you find a sale on feta and you want to stock up on it and store the excess feta in the freezer, you definitely can! Freezing feta can extend its shelf life and not cause significant changes or damages to the cheese if it’s stored correctly.
How Long Does Feta Cheese Last in the Freezer?
Compared to other softer cheese, feta has a slightly longer shelf life due to the oil or saline solution that it’s packaged with. If unopened, it can generally last two to three months in the fridge. Due to the saline solution, it can even last between two weeks to a month past its expiration date if it’s stored in the fridge unopened.
When properly stored in the freezer, the life span of feta cheese can be extended by an additional two to three months. However, the earlier it’s used, the better. It retains its highest quality up to around one month of being stored in the freezer.
Like many foods, particularly other cheeses, how long it lasts in the freezer depends on if it’s been prepared and stored correctly. If you didn’t properly prepare it then it may not be good for very long, or perhaps ruined altogether. However, if stored properly you can expect it to stay good for up to three months.
Can You Freeze Feta Cheese Dip?
Yes, you can easily save leftover feta cheese dip by freezing it. All you need to do is pour the dip into an airtight container. But an important step is to cover the dip with a layer of plastic wrap or cling film before you close the lid. This prevents a dry crust from forming on the surface and keeps it in the best shape.
For extra protection, you can then wrap the entire container in plastic wrap to further prevent air from getting in. However, if your container is extremely airtight you can most likely forgo the additional wrapping of plastic wrap.
Then, label the container and put it in the freezer.
Can You Freeze Cooked Feta Cheese?
Yes, if feta has been cooked in a dish it’s perfectly fine to freeze cooked feta. Note that you should only do this if other things the feta has been cooked with can also be frozen. Things like shrimp shouldn’t be frozen with the dish.
But, assuming the dish can be frozen as is, then it’s no problem. You simply freeze the dish accordingly, depending on what it is.
How Does Freezing Affect Feta?
While feta does freeze pretty well, it still can undergo some subtle changes to both the flavor and texture. This may reduce the number of dishes that you can use the defrosted feta in.
Since feta has a unique and distinct taste, you will probably notice at least a small change in the intensity and richness in flavor after it’s been frozen.
Additionally, thawed feta is also less salty than it was before freezing. However, you can combat the loss in saltiness and recover some of the flavors by submerging it in a saline solution for 30 minutes. Use about one teaspoon of salt per cup of water. Make sure to use enough water that the cheese is fully submerged.
It’s probably no surprise that when you freeze feta there’ll also be a change in the texture as well due to its high water content. The most noticeable change is that it’s crumblier after it’s been frozen and defrosted.
This is due to the water inside the cheese freezing and forming ice crystals. It also becomes dryer as when it’s frozen the cheese is deprived of the liquid that it’s commonly stored in like water, brine, or oil, which causes it to dry up a little.
These changes may occur but if you take care to freeze feta properly and also reinvigorate it by soaking it in saltwater before using then you can keep it tasting great.
How to Freeze Feta Cheese
Just as you can buy feta cheese in multiple forms – block or crumbled – so too can you freeze it in multiple forms.
If you buy it in a block, it gives you the most flexibility in how you’d like to use it and/or freeze it.
However, you may choose not to freeze it as an entire block, especially if you don’t plan on using the whole block at one time. In that case, it would make the most sense to freeze it in either smaller chunks or crumbled. Let’s go through a couple of the different ways that you can freeze feta cheese.
Freezing Blocks of Feta
When you buy feta from an international market, farmers market, or even a Greek supermarket, it’s likely that you’ll buy it in a large brick. Depending on how often you eat feta, you may not have the chance to eat it all before there is a risk of it going bad. So, you can freeze either the entire block or just different sections of it. This is how you do it.
- Strain the feta from the liquid it’s stored in (if it’s stored in a liquid). If it’s unopened then you need to open it and then strain it. It shouldn’t be frozen with any liquid.
- Dry the cheese with a clean cloth or paper towels to remove any liquid. It should be as dry as possible. Ironically, the more water it’s frozen with, the more it can actually dry up the cheese.
- Cut the cheese into desired portions depending on how you plan on using it. It’s better to err on the side of caution and cut more pieces as you can always use additional pieces. If a single block is too big you risk having to defrost the entire block and perhaps waste or ruin the cheese.
- Tightly wrap each piece of feta with plastic wrap. This helps prevent any air contact with the cheese and it won’t get freezer burn. Put the pieces into a sealable freezer-safe bag. Remove as much air as possible. Label the bag, and then put it into the freezer.
- Alternatively to wrapping each piece individually, you can pre-freeze them on a lined cookie sheet. Make sure they aren’t touching each other and keep them in the freezer until they’re frozen. Then you can put them all in the same bag without additional plastic. Because they are already frozen they won’t freeze together.
How to Freeze Crumbled Feta Cheese
If you happened to buy crumbled feta cheese, no worries, you can also freeze it! It’s a great addition to salads or pasta – more on how to use it shortly. But it’s very easy to freeze. Here’s how you do it.
- Divide the crumbled feta into the desired number of portions. Remember, it’s safer to have more portions than too few and even more so with crumbled feta as it freezes together.
- Put the portioned feta into individual freezer-safe bags or containers that are labeled. Then place them in the freezer.
- Similar to the blocks of feta, you can also pre-freeze crumbled feta cheese. Just spread the feta crumbles out on a lined cookie sheet and put it in the freezer until theyr’e all frozen. Then place it in either one bag, or multiple bags, each with a desired portion.
How to Defrost Feta Cheese
There are two ways to defrosting feta cheese and both are very easy.
- Put the container or bag in the fridge for a couple of hours, or even better, overnight. However, it can mean for you to plan ahead if you choose this method.
- Alternatively, you can put it into your food frozen. If you plan on using it with soup, pasta, or a stey then you might as well skip the defrosting and just put it directly into the dish. However, for obvious reasons you shouldn’t use this method if you plan on using it as a salad topping or for something else that doesn’t require cooking.
How to Use Defrosted Feta
Because feta goes through some slight changes to both its taste and texture, how you use defrosted feta can vary greatly from its fresh counterpart. Also, your tolerance of the changes can determine how you can use defrosted feta.
Personally, after soaking it in brine, if feta is a little crumblier and drier it doesn’t bother me at all eating it on a salad when it’s cold. However, for the feta purists out there, perhaps it may not be tolerable. The only way to know is to give it a try!
But, if you’re afraid of not liking the results of eating defrosted feta while it’s cold there are many ways to use defrosted feta cheese in cooked dishes as well. In fact, if you use it in cooked dishes there is almost no way to tell that it was ever frozen! Since it becomes softer or even melted, the taste and texture between fresh or frozen feta are unnoticeable. Here are just a few ways that you can incorporate defrosted feta into your cooking:
- Melting it on top of pasta – my personal favorite!
- Adding it to sauces
- Adding it to soups, stews, or casseroles
But of course, there’s no shortage of ways to use defrosted feta, and if you’re cooking, you can pretty much use it exactly as you would use fresh feta. You can only really tell that it has been frozen when you eat it cold. Whichever you choose, enjoy your feta!