Feta is a fantastic accompaniment to many dishes, but it can go off rather quickly if you forget, especially if you only use it as a topping or as a last minute addition to dishes, rather than a main component.
You may only use it occasionally for dishes that specifically need feta, and nothing else, leaving you with a surplus and not a lot of ideas on how to use it.
It would, then, be easier if you could freeze it. Fresh feta is by far the best version, and much like fresh mozzarella balls, feta cheese doesn’t freeze brilliantly, but that’s not to say you can’t freeze it.
But before we get to that, let’s talk about the shelf life of fresh feta, and whether it makes sense to freeze it or not in your case.
The Shelf Life Of Feta Cheese
While the date on a packet of feta gives you a pretty good idea of when you need to eat it, it’s more of a guideline as to how long the cheese will keep its quality and texture before either start to break down.
If you haven’t opened it yet, you might be able to leave it for a week before using it, but the sooner you use it, the better it will be.
Once you’ve opened the feta, it largely depends on whether the feta is in brine or not, when it comes to how long it will last.
If the cheese is in brine, this largely extends the shelf life to a maximum of a month after opening.
If the feta doesn’t include brine, it will last a maximum of a week before going off, but this can be as short a window as 3 days.
So if you buy feta which is in brine, this means you’ll have a relatively long window in which to use it.
You can freeze both versions, but as with most dairy, it noticeably alters. Even so, frozen feta will last for about 6 months before it starts to lose its quality.
Is It Worth Freezing Feta Cheese?
Cheese with a low moisture content will always freeze better than cheese which has a higher water content. Feta, unfortunately, falls into the second category.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t freeze it, but it will change significantly. As it loses some moisture during the freezing and thawing process, the texture becomes much more crumbly, and it can lose some flavor.
But it depends on your personal preferences. If you prefer feta to be less salty, or you only crumble it into dishes, freezing and thawing it is not a bad thing.
If you’d prefer the feta to be salty, you can make a brine for the cheese to sit in, and it should improve both in texture and flavor.
As long as you want to use thawed feta in cooked dishes, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t freeze it.
If you want to use feta in salads or other uncooked dishes, you’re better off sticking to the fresh stuff.
How Do You Freeze Feta Cheese?
Freezing feta is very easy to do, and you don’t need to do a lot of preparation beforehand. You can either freeze it in whole blocks, or in its crumbled form.
How To Freeze Feta In Blocks?
If your block of feta includes brine, you’ll need to strain that out before you try to freeze the cheese. Don’t just throw the whole packet into the freezer and hope for the best!
Open the packaging, drain the brine, and remove some of the moisture. This will help the feta freeze more evenly.
If you are unlikely to use the whole block in one go once you thaw it, it’s a good idea to portion it out before you freeze it. Cut it into blocks, as many as you think you need.
What you freeze it in depends on how long you’re going to freeze the cheese for. If it’s only for a maximum of a fortnight, you can put the cheese straight into a freezer bag.
If you’re planning on freezing the feta for a longer period, wrap it in cling film before you put it into a bag. This extra layer will help prevent freezer burn.
How To Freeze Crumbled Feta?
The process of freezing crumbled feta is much the same. You’ll need to portion it unless you’ll use the whole thing in one go.
You can either use the original packaging to freeze it, or you can transfer the crumbled feta into freezer bags, which you’ll also need to do if you want to portion it.
If you’ve opened the feta, you’ll need to transfer it into a new freezer bag to keep it fresh.
If you’re unsure how long the feta will sit in the freezer, consider protecting it from freezer burn by putting it in an extra freezer bag.
Write the date, and freeze the feta.
The Best Way To Defrost Frozen Feta
The gentlest way to defrost frozen feta is by using the fridge. Transfer the container directly into the fridge on a plate, and let it defrost.
If you froze the whole block, this can take up to 12 hours to thaw properly, or overnight. Smaller portions will take less time, maybe as little as 3 hours, so plan ahead.
If you need the cheese sooner, you can put the whole container into a bowl of cold water, which dramatically reduces the thawing time.
What You Should Use Thawed Feta For?
Thawed feta cheese shouldn’t be used as is, as if it was fresh, where possible. The texture becomes more crumbly, and much drier than the fresh version.
That’s not to say you can’t use it, however. If you’re making something that calls for crumbled feta, thawed feta is perfect for this.
Another good way of using thawed feta is in pasta dishes which have a lot of sauce, as the sauce will help rehydrate the cheese, making the changes after thawing less dramatic.
If you’d still like to have it on pasta, but you’re not much of a pasta sauce person, you can melt it over pasta in a pan. It doesn’t take long, and it makes pasta dishes that much more tasty.
You can also use it as a pizza topping, so long as it’s not the only cheese, as well as in stews or casserole dishes.
Feta cheese is worth freezing if you don’t mind the texture of it when it thaws, and if you don’t use feta as the main component in salads and other fresh dishes.
If you only use feta exclusively for uncooked dishes, it may be worth turning to cheese which is much more freezable, such as mozzarella or Parmesan, and leaving feta for your salads.
It also depends on your personal preference and palate whether you like thawed feta or not. Some people prefer the less salty, drier texture, which means it crumbles easier than its fresh counterpart.
It’s also helpful to freeze feta cheese when you have too much, which you won’t reasonably use before it goes off. This will save you money and reduce the guilt (if not save you money) of wasting food.