Can You Freeze Feta Cheese?
Can you freeze feta cheese? – that is the question! If you’ve got a block or a package of crumbled feta cheese sitting in your fridge that is about to spoil, and you don’t want it to land in the trash – freezing it may seem like a good idea! We dive into the pros and cons of freezing feta cheese and if you should even do it!
It’s creamy, salty, and most importantly, it’s the perfect addition to a Greek salad. That’s right; we’re talking about one of the most beloved dairy products of Mediterranean cuisine — feta cheese.
In this post, we’ll be answering the question, “can you freeze feta cheese?” — spoiler alert: you can freeze it! —, along with other unknowns surrounding this delicious soft cheese. We’ll cover possible issues with freezing it, how to thaw it, and more! So if you have some leftover feta from your last Mediterranean-style lunch and you’re not in the mood for it anytime soon, this post is for you.
But… Should You Freeze Feta Cheese?
Some say it’s okay to freeze soft cheeses like ricotta, cottage cheese, and of course, feta! While others claim the whole process ruins some of its qualities and that you shouldn’t do it. When it comes to feta, well, both statements hold some truth.
Freezing is one of the most popular — and easiest — methods of extending the shelf life of many foods, including feta cheese. However, if you think its quality will remain untouched by freezing, this may not be the right approach for you. Freezing temperatures do affect some of the cheese’s quality.
Does that mean you shouldn’t freeze it? Not really. Freezing feta is better than tossing it in the trash, and if you don’t mind that yours goes through some changes in the process, then just do it. The choice is up to you!
Potential Issues With Freezing Feta
If you’re worried about your feta cheese completely changing after it’s been in the freezer, relax and take it cheesy — it doesn’t undergo as many changes as other cheeses. While it’s true that its texture and flavor may change if it spends too much time in the freezer, that doesn’t mean it will become useless or unappetizing.
Changes in Texture
If you’ve been reading our previous posts, then you know that this is a problem that all soft cheeses suffer once they go into the freezer — yes, we’re talking about you, cottage, and ricotta.
In a nutshell, the water content in feta cheese will turn into ice crystals as its temperature drops, which will change its texture from soft and crumbly, to somewhat dry and crumblier. Especially if the feta is low-fat.
This can be a bummer if you have a block that you want to keep soft and in shape, but if you are planning on using crumbled feta anyway, then the texture change won’t be too much of an issue. And if you’re freezing crumbled feta in the first place, you may not even notice any difference at all.
Changes in Flavor
Feta has a salty, tangy, and sharp taste. If we could only describe it in one word, it would definitely be “rich” — perfect for pleasing the taste buds of any Greek cuisine lover. But when the freezer enters the picture, that richness gets a little lost.
Its oh-so-characteristic sharpness becomes mild, and what used to be a rather salty cheese becomes rather (slightly) flat. That’s a plus if you’re not a fan of salt, but if you are, no worries — it isn’t a drastic change.
How to Freeze Feta Cheese
Feta cheese comes in two forms — block or crumbled. Depending on which one you have, you will have to prepare it in different ways before freezing it. The process won’t take long if you have crumbled feta, but if you have blocks, it will take a little longer. Here’s a step-by-step guide.
Freezing Crumbled Feta Cheese
Crumbled feta cheese is the type that most people get because it is the most versatile. It can be used as a topping or as a filling, and the best part is that if you end up with leftovers, you can freeze them without much hassle. Here’s how:
- Divide the feta into portions. If you are not sure about portions, it is always better to opt for smaller rather than larger ones. However, if you are going to freeze a small amount, you can freeze it in its original container.
- Wrap each piece with cling wrap and put them in a proper container. Lay down a piece of cling wrap, and wrap each portion, making sure that no air gets in. Then, put them in a freezer bag or airtight container to prevent freezer burns.
- If you decide to freeze the feta cheese in its original container, wrap it with cling wrap — trust us, it’s never too much protection against freezer burns —, and finally, label it and put it in the freezer. Pretty easy, right?
Freeze Feta Blocks
As mentioned above, you can freeze blocks of feta cheese, but you’ll need to follow a couple of extra steps:
- Take the feta out of its original container and pat it partly dry with paper towels. Pat it gently to remove excess liquid, but don’t pat it fully dry. Removing all the liquid will result in a rock-hard cheese.
- Divide it into portions. If you have a single block of cheese, divide it into smaller pieces depending on the dishes you will be preparing in the future. You can cut them into cubes or small blocks — whatever is more convenient for you.
- Wrap each piece with cling wrap. This is the most important part of the whole process, as it is what will ensure that the portions don’t stick together or get freezer burn. We know, it’s the most tedious step, but you’ll thank us later when you thaw the feta and feel it’s not completely dry.
- Put each piece in a bag or container. To lower the chances of freezer burn even more, use a freezer bag or a tightly sealed plastic container. Then label it and pop it in the freezer.
Bonus tip: For those of you who have feta in brine and are wondering, “can you freeze feta cheese in brine?” hey, we didn’t forget about you! You can freeze it, but only if you drain the brine first. After the cheese is free of liquid, just follow the same steps as above.
How Long Will Feta Last In The Freezer?
Feta can last in the freezer for 3 to 6 months tops — as long as you store it right.
As always, we don’t advise storing it until the 6-month mark. The longer it sits inside the freezer, the more it will lose its qualities, so try to freeze it for the shortest amount of time possible.
How to Thaw and Use Feta Cheese
Nothing beats the flavor of fresh feta cheese, but if you freeze and thaw it the right way, you can make good use of it. Don’t leave it on the countertop at room temperature for hours — if you do, the cheese will spoil before you know it —, and don’t even think about putting it under a stream of scalding hot water. The safest methods you can use is transferring the cheese to the refrigerator or immersing it in a bowl of cold tap water.
If you are not in a hurry, transferring the feta from the freezer to the refrigerator is the best way to thaw it. It can take anywhere from 3 to 12 hours to thaw, depending on the size of the portion, so we suggest that if you opt for this method, you do it overnight.
If you are in a hurry, then submerging the feta in a bowl of cold/lukewarm water is your best bet. Of course, you’re not going to immerse the pieces of cheese directly into the water, but rather keep them in the container in which they are stored. Replacing the water every 5 minutes — or whenever you feel it’s getting too cold —, this method will thaw your cheese in 1 to two hours.
P.S: Remember the rule of thumb for freezing fresh cheeses: you can freeze feta cheese, but you can’t refreeze it. Soft cheeses are highly susceptible to abrupt temperature changes, so if you freeze and thaw it repeatedly, it will spoil in the blink of an eye.
After thawing your feta cheese, you may think that you can only use it in a few recipes… But nothing could be further from the truth! The good thing about this cheese is that it doesn’t change completely after being frozen, meaning you still can:
- Melt it over pasta
- Put it in rich soups
- Throw it on top of gooey pizzas
- Add it to creamy sauces
- Use it in casseroles, stews, and many more cooked dishes!
How Can I Tell If Feta Cheese Has Gone Bad After Freezing?
Try as you might, sometimes, you just can’t prevent food from going bad. If you take a look at your feta cheese and notice discoloration or signs of mold, those are clear signs that you need to let it go.
If, after checking its appearance, you don’t notice anything strange, but a sour smell hits you all of a sudden, that’s another sign that the feta is bad. Let alone if you taste it and get a fishy flavor… The worst way to realize that your cheese is bad ever.
And if you’re wondering, “can feta cheese be frozen if it’s starting to go bad?” that’s a hard no-no. Any food that is starting to go bad, dairy or not, should be thrown away — not frozen. It’s better to be safe than sorry!