Years back, when I was a newbie to feta cheese, spotting this popular cheese in several dishes intrigued me. And, of course, the thought ‘what does feta cheese taste like?’ came to mind. So, while skimming through restaurant menus, if a similar thought has crossed your mind and you are looking for the answers, I would say, welcome to the exhaustive guide to feta cheese.
If I had to pick a cheese that is considered to be one of the best cheeses around the world, it would be feta. Wondering why so? Feta is a curd cheese that is made from a combination of sheep and goat milk. It is a rich, tangy, and salty cheese that pairs well with most food items.
Feta cheese makes for such a delicious treat that I don’t leave it out of my menu to impress my guests at home.To say it simply, feta cheese has layers of hidden flavors that will leave you pleasantly surprised.
True to its taste profile, feta is known as the king of Greek cheese varieties, which came to form as an accident. And let me just say, if accidents turn out to be so beautiful, I won’t mind them at all. So folks, without any further delay, let’s dive into the world of feta cheese.
This article will provide you with a deep insight into the flavor of feta cheese, its texture, health benefits, and mouthwatering dishes to serve with feta cheese.
What Is Feta Cheese?
The famed Greek feta cheese is a curd cheese that’s made using a combination of pasteurized goat and sheep milk. It is cured in salty brine. Modern-day feta cheese may also contain cow milk. However, they are not regarded as genuine.
Feta is crumbly in texture and creamy white in color. While this cheese was savored in the eastern Mediterranean region for a long time, the Greeks started using the name ‘feta,’ literally meaning slice, in the 17th century.
If we look back in time, Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ mentions feta cheese. It is said Cyclope Polyphemus was the first to prepare feta cheese. However, it was in 1926 that feta was recognized as an original Greek product according to national legislation.
As compared to aged cheeses such as cheddar or Parmesan, feta is lower in fat and calories and has more calcium and B vitamins than soft cheeses such as ricotta or cottage cheese. However, it has a high sodium content due to the brine. Thus, people on salt-restricted diets should observe caution while consuming feta.
Feta is normally found in the shape of square cakes. But you can also find pre-crumbled feta packaged in airtight containers without brine. Additionally, it also comes with added seasonings. In terms of cost, feta costs more than other common cheeses. But that doesn’t hurt much as a little goes a long way.
Feta Fact: Feta cheese is a P.D.O. Short form for Protected Designation of Origin Product, which means that only feta made in some specific areas of Greece with a specific method can be named “Feta.” So, if you have feta made with cow’s milk or made in the U.S., that is not “feta.”
Explore The Taste Of Other Foods We’ve Covered
- What Does Havarti Cheese Taste Like?
- What Does Gruyere Cheese Taste Like?
- What Does Gouda Cheese Taste Like?
- What Does Goat Cheese Taste Like?
- What Does Cottage Cheese Taste Like?
- What Does Blue Cheese Taste Like?
- What Does Brie Taste Like?
- What Does Soy Milk Taste Like?
- What Does Almond Milk Taste Like?
- What Does Taro Milk Taste Like?
What Does Feta Cheese Taste Like?
Greek feta is definitely a superior and different-tasting cheese. But to understand the taste profile of feta cheese, let’s first understand how it’s made. The process of making feta cheese takes a time frame anywhere between 2 months to a year. And that’s because it is left to age in the brine. This process results in giving a salty, tangy, and rich taste.
Furthermore, the more aged the feta is, the harder and more peppery flavor it has. That intensive taste profile is a result of the qualities it derives from two kinds of milk used. While sheep’s milk provides a richer buttery flavor, goat cheese makes the cheese harder.
That said, the taste of feta cheese can also vary depending on the kind of milk used and its aging from region to region.
Nowadays, many countries, including Australia, Denmark, Germany, and of course, the United States, produce different forms of feta. However, this modern-day mass production often relies on cow’s milk.
Some may use skimmed milk or partially skimmed milk to reduce the fat content. Along with these changes in production, some feta varieties also include added seasonings. This results in a different taste of feta as compared to the authentic one.
What Does Feta Cheese Smell Like?
Feta cheese has a very distinctive smell like its taste profile. A good quality fresh feta cheese should just have a mildly acidic smell. However, the strength of the smell of feta cheese can also be influenced by which type of milk has been used. Feta cheese made of sheep milk has a milder smell than that made of goat milk. However, if you smell sour notes, it’s most likely that your feta cheese has gone bad.
Is Feta Cheese Salty?
Everyone enjoys different levels of salt, and Feta is a cheese that has a saltier taste profile associated with it. In fact, if you ever get the chance to eat a traditional Feta from Greece, it’s likely the cheese will be much saltier than any other Feta you’ve eaten. That is because feta is traditionally packed in brine which is salt water. The flavors of feta range from mild to sharp and include salty and tangy taste profiles.
That said, if you want to reduce the salt content of your feta, you can do it by using a simple method. You can rinse the feta at hand in freshwater and allow it to sit fully soaked in milk for 1 or 2 days. This process will help you remove the excessive saltiness of feta.
Does Feta Cheese Taste Like Vomit?
Although I would never associate the delicious taste of feta with that of vomit, a short answer to that query is maybe. A fatty acid called butyric acid has a “rancid” flavor, which is found in cheese like feta. This flavor is associated with a “baby vomit” aroma.
Does Feta Cheese Taste Like Mozzarella?
Just like wine, the world of cheese can be somewhat intimidating to navigate. That is because there is a large variety of cheese available. Each varies depending on the country of origin, type of milk, cooking procedures, the aging process, and tasting notes. This can leave a beginner confused. Allow me to help you.
Both Mozzarella and Feta fall in the category of fresh cheese. However, they come from different countries and require different types of milk and processes to create their own unique flavor and texture. Hence, the two don’t taste similar.
The texture of mozzarella is semi-soft, having a soft and smooth surface. It comes in various shapes and sizes. On the other hand, feta is soft and crumbly and often comes in block forms. In terms of its taste profile, mozzarella certainly has a salty taste, but it is not as strong or peculiar as feta.
What Does Feta Cheese Taste Like On Pizza?
If you are looking for a pizza recipe bursting with flavor, then pizza with feta cheese is made for you. Pizza with feta cheese has a rich and deep taste. The flavors and texture of veggies with the savoriness of feta balance the taste of pizza so well that you are left saying, more pizza, please! However, keep in mind that feta doesn’t melt the same way that mozzarella does. If you enjoy the melty texture and flavor of your pizza, then you can add some mozzarella in addition to the feta.
What Does Feta Cheese Taste When Melted?
When we say melt, we mean transforming cheese into a soft, gooey, stringy goodness that pulls apart. But feta cheese does not melt because it has high acidity and moisture level.
You may be surprised to learn that every 150 grams of your authentic feta cheese contains 83 grams of water. And, every 100 grams of feta cheese is 19% acidic. Keeping both high water and acid content in mind, it’s no wonder that feta cheese does not melt. This is also the case in some other types of cheese like cotija, ricotta, queso panela, paneer, and queso fresco.
However, that’s not to say that feta cheese does not react to heat and would stay up as a hard block. It will crumble when exposed to heat. For the melty cheese in your recipes, you can opt for mozzarella cheese.
Does Feta Cheese Taste Like Blue Cheese?
Blue cheese and feta are two types of cheese that make an interesting addition to any cheese platter. They are definitely something you should try. But do they taste similar? Well, let’s look at some key factors to answer this question.
Feta and blue cheese come with different appearances. Blue cheese has mold spores, while feta does not. Feta is a brined cheese made of sheep and goat milk, whereas blue cheese is aged in caves and can be made from any milk with high-fat content. These factors lead to a significant difference in their flavors and texture.
Overall blue cheese has a salty taste which is milder than feta.
What Does Feta Cheese Taste Similar To?
One of the most popular types of cheese in the world is feta. However, what do you do if you don’t find feta or are on the lookout for less salty options? You can try a feta substitute. Many of these cheese alternatives are similar in texture but do not provide a strong taste profile. Let’s take a look at them.
- Halloumi – Halloumi is a cheese variety that is quite similar to feta. Like feta, halloumi is a Greek cheese made with a combination of sheep and goat milk. Additionally, halloumi is also soaked in brine.
- Queso Fresco – Queso fresco is a Mexican cheese that is especially available in the United States. It is made from cow milk or in combination with sheep or goat milk and has a crumbly texture like feta. But it is milder in taste than feta.
- Goat Cheese – These days, there are wide varieties of goat cheese available in the market. But this cheese has similarities to feta as it uses the same milk base. You can take a look for a crumbly variety of goat cheese to use as a replacement for feta. The taste of goat cheese will likely be milder than the taste of feta.
- Tofu – Some people opt not to eat cheese because they are vegan. Instead, they can opt for tofu as it is a plant-based cheese type and has a similar salty taste.
What Does Feta Cheese Pasta Taste Like?
Let’s just say one of the best cheeses to keep in hand is feta since it stays fresh for weeks. It can be added to just about any type of salad, pizza, or pasta. Pasta and feta cheese are a match made in heaven.
This year in February, feta sales surged so much that retailers started running out of it. Thanks to TikTok’s viral feta pasta trend. The recipe calls for baking a block of feta with cherry tomatoes and olive oil. Even a minimal amount of usage lends a burst of umami flavor.
5 Different Types Of Feta Cheese And Their Taste
Feta has been registered as a Protected Designation of Origin (P.D.O.) product, and so according to European Union law, the only true feta is that which is made in Greece.
However, many Balkan countries, as well as others like France, Israel, and the United States, also produce feta. Thus, feta from different countries tastes different. You can find a few types of feta, differentiated by origin, milk type, and packaging technique, at your cheese shops or grocery stores. The table below will help you learn all such varieties and taste profiles.
- Greek Feta – It is authentic feta made from sheep and goat milk. It has a salty and tangy taste profile, with a lemony flavor. It is usually rich and creamy, although the texture depends on the percentage of goat milk added.
- French Feta – Most often made with sheep’s milk, this type of feta cheese is typically mild and creamy. However, some French feta made using goat’s milk are slightly drier and tangier.
- Bulgarian Feta – Bulgarian feta is made from sheep’s milk. It has a firm and creamy texture. The salt content varies. Sometimes it has a little bit of a grassy and yeasty flavor.
- Israeli Feta – This type of feta cheese is full-flavored, creamy and not overly salty. Most often, it’s made from sheep’s milk.
- American Feta – This feta cheese is made from sheep, goat or even cow’s milk. Usually, the predominant flavor of is cheese is tangy and the texture is less creamy but crumblier.
|Type Of Feta Cheese||Taste & Texture|
|Greek Feta||Salty and tangy taste with a lemony flavor, creamy texture|
|French Feta||Mild creamy, slightly tangy|
|Bulgarian Feta||A bit of grassy and yeasty flavor, firm and creamy texture|
|Israeli Feta||Full-flavored, creamy and not overly salty|
|American Feta||Tangy, the texture is less creamy but c|
Things To Look For While Buying Feta Cheese
The tangy and briny feta is a real attention grabber. However, you can find a lot of feta varieties at the supermarket. These varieties are made using different types of milk that deliver different taste profiles. Thus, you would want to use the tastiest feta you can find.
To find out which is worth using, we will look at some pointers to keep in mind while purchasing feta.
1. Ditch The Crumbled Feta
No doubt crumbled feta cheese is a convenient option to choose for the ease of cooking. However, you can end up not buying the freshest product. In the case of crumbled feta, it’s difficult to assess the quality of the feta. This type can taste rather dry or hard as such containers of crumbled feta usually contain powdered cellulose to increase shelf-life.
2. Opt For Blocks
The best way to buy feta is in the block form soaked in brine. This type of feta will most definitely be fresher in quality. By purchasing this, you can be sure that the health of your feta will be maintained as it will not dry out or change its flavor. It stays moist and fresh for up to three months. However, skip choosing blocks that are simply wrapped in plastic.
3. Know How To Find Out The Difference
As we learned above, feta comes in a few varieties with different tastes and textures. So, when buying feta, scan the cheese aisle for feta that’s from Greece for an authentic feta experience.
Although the E.U. restricted the use of the name “feta” to Greece in 2005, this rule only applies to Europe. This means, outside of Europe, you’ll find plenty of cheese labeled as “feta” in stores.
True feta is made in Greece from sheep and goat milk rennet and salt and has a unique flavor of its own that is hard to replicate. Cow’s milk feta, made in the U.S., is feta-style cheese rather than true feta.
4. Look For The Milk Used
Now, depending on your location, it can be hard to find authentic feta to enjoy its full flavors. To solve this problem, you can look out for the type of milk used to make feta to achieve a flavor closer to that of Greek feta. Pick feta that’s made from all sheep’s milk or a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk.
5. Look Out For Added Seasonings
Over the years, the food industry has been quite experimental with food flavorings that have added to the flavor quality of food. So, when we step inside a supermarket, it can be a mind-boggling shopping experience with the shelves lined up with unlimited flavor options.
The same thing has been done with feta. Today, feta is found in many flavored options depending on the seasoning and marinades. These mask the true flavor quality of plain feta. While I’m not asking you to go for such stuff. Sure, it tastes good. But for an authentic feta experience, sticking to plain feta is the best way to go. Instead, if you love the taste of seasoned feta, you can do it at home.
How To Preserve Feta Cheese?
Have you finally bought feta cheese and are wondering how to store it? I’m going to tell you all the ways to store feta cheese in the best way possible so that you can derive its best flavors.
Whether you are buying a block of feta or its crumbled type, feta should be refrigerated at all times. Block fetas generally come packed in brine water. However, if you have bought a block of feta cheese without the brine or crumbled feta, it’s best to make salt water at home and place your block of feta into it. This will ensure the quality of your cheese.
When placing the cheese in the refrigerator, packed or unpacked, place it in an airtight container.
2. Packed and Unpacked Storage
When it comes to packed blocks of feta cheese, its shelf life is usually around two to three months. The brine water does an excellent job of preserving the cheese.
On the other hand, crumbled feta is not sold in brine, which doesn’t retain quality for as long. Nevertheless, by placing it in brine, you can expect it to stay fresh for a week.
Now: Your cheese may taste too salty because of the presence of brine. To remove the extra saltiness, simply rinse it or immerse it in plain water a day before serving it.
3. Store In Olive oil
What if you don’t like the added saltiness due to brine? You can dip a feta cheese block into some olive oil. But make sure to use good quality oil as it will penetrate into the cheese, leaving its flavor.
How To Check If Feta Has Gone Bad?
Maybe you bought a block of feta cheese to make pizzas or pasta for your family and forgot to use it instantly. In this case, you would want to check the freshness of feta cheese to avoid food poisoning. Below are some indicators that help you detect if your cottage cheese has gone bad.
- Feta cheese sure has an acidic smell to it, but if you find it smelling too sour or off, it’s a good indicator that the cheese in hand has gone bad.
- The color of any food item is the biggest sign of the change in the quality of food. Hence, if you find any discoloration or mold on your feta cheese, it’s time to toss it.
- Feta cheese contains a lot of moisture. If it has turned dry in texture, it means the cheese has gone bad.
Best Feta Cheese Dishes
Feta cheese is a delicious ingredient to be consumed on its own. But this cheese is so versatile that it can be used in many ways other than eating it alone. So, while you can easily include feta cheese in your meals by shredding it on top of your pasta or in your salad, I’m going to introduce you to more recipes to enjoy its flavors.
- Sandwiches – Feta cheese makes a great filling for sandwiches. You can create an indulgent breakfast sandwich by making a tomato, feta, and basil sandwich. Or you could also try a spinach feta cheese sandwich. Believe me; these sandwiches will leave you super impressed.
- Eggs – Why turn to a regular egg breakfast every morning when you can treat yourself to unimaginable flavors? Next time you go to whip up a fluffy omelet for breakfast, try adding feta cheese to add more flavors and cheesiness. Remember, feta pairs well with many flavors. So, you can add your favorite herbs to the omelet for deliciousness.
- Dip – Appetizer palates are undoubtedly the best and most fun part of any meal. And you can impress your friends by trying a feta cheese dip. Try mixing some feta with mayo, sour cream, and olive oil to make a dreamy dip. Serve with vegetable sticks or toasted pita for a gorgeously luxurious appetizer.
- Spanakopita – A Greek savory spinach pie, spanakopita makes for a showstopper dish. To make spanakopita, you need to make a spinach and feta cheese filling and wrap it in a flaky pastry parcel. Although the recipe takes some time to prepare, it’s worth all your effort.
- Baked Feta – Another traditional Greek recipe, the baked feta is a recipe for all feta lovers who like to devour all its original flavors. Baked feta is an easy recipe to make. All you need to do is bake feta cheese with some tomatoes, peppers, and onion, and sprinkle it with some olive oil and fresh oregano.
- Greek Fries – Who doesn’t like fries? And what if I tell you that you can take them to the next level with the help of feta? Greek fries are not only crispy, savory, and addictive; they are super easy to make. Just sprinkle some feta over your regular fries and enjoy a stellar dish. You can also do the same over sweet potato fries!
- Watermelon Feta salad – Cool off on a hot summer day with a mouthwatering watermelon feta salad. The juicy chunks of watermelon combined with feta, mint, and lime juice make an irresistible salad.
- Feta and Onion Tarts – If you enjoy tarts for their crispy shells and luscious filling, then feta and onion tarts should be given a try. Rich and savory in taste, these tarts include feta, onion, and parsley combined and layered in tart shells.
- Roasted Red Pepper And Feta Frittata – Frittatas are one of the most comforting and fulfilling treats that you can barely go wrong with. But with feta cheese added to it, you can amp up the basic recipe to unexpected levels. Frittatas’ basic filling includes egg with cheese, roasted red peppers, and spinach. You can add in feta for a right kick of savory.
- Spinach and Feta Scones – who doesn’t like scones? And what better than feta cheese scones? The buttery and savory scones are hard to resist. Try out the dish and thank me later!
Health Benefits Of Feta Cheese
Feta is not only one of the best tasting cheeses available, but it offers a lot of health benefits as well, and it can be added to your menu in many ways. Below are some of the health benefits of feta cheese that make it a great ingredient to add to your diet.
1. Bone Health
Cheese is the primary source of calcium, and feta cheese is a good source of calcium and phosphorus that promotes bone health. One serving of feta provides twice as much calcium as phosphorus.
2. Gut Health
Feta cheese is also a good source of probiotics as it has been shown to contain Lactobacillus Plantarum. These bacteria can help support the immune system and gut health.
3. Muscle and Skin health
Being high in protein, feta makes a valuable dietary inclusion as it is essential for good muscle, skin, and blood health. We need adequate amounts of protein in our diet for cells and tissues to grow, develop and repair.
4. May help In Weight Loss
As compared to other cheeses, feta cheese is lower in fat and calories. It has 21 grams of fat (per 100 grams) as per USDA. So, if you are on a weight loss diet, feta cheese would not give you more calories.
Nutritional Content Of Feta Cheese
Feta cheese is packed with a lot of nutrients that could provide many health benefits. For example, one teaspoon of feta cheese provides 140 mg of calcium and contains less fat and calories than parmesan cheese. It also has more B vitamins than other cheese types like Gouda, Gruyere, Ricotta, Muenster, Havarti, and the popular Mozzarella.
In addition, feta cheese contains Lactobacillus Plantarum, which makes up about 48 percent of the bacteria present in the cheese. These are known as Probiotics. The nutritional profile of feta cheese is very impressive; let’s take a look at it.
|Nutrients||One ounce (28 grams) Feta|
|Riboflavin||14% of the R.D.I.|
|Calcium||14% of the R.D.I.|
|Sodium||13% of the R.D.I.|
|Phosphorous||9% of the R.D.I.|
|Vitamin B 12||8% of the R.D.I.|
|Selenium||6% of the R.D.I.|
|Vitamin B6||6% of the R.D.I.|
|Zinc||5% of the R.D.I.|
After having studied the taste profile of feta cheese, I’m sure you are eager to try it. I promise it will elevate your recipes to levels unimagined. The only flaw with having feta cheese is the presence of a high amount of sodium content. If you are on a salt-restricted diet, you can try one of the tips mentioned above to reduce its salt content. Or you can choose to completely avoid it.
Now, while my job is done by telling you everything about feta cheese, come say hi in the comments sections and tell me all about the fun and delectable feta cheese recipes you have tried.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.s)
What Is The Percentage Of Sheep’s Milk In Feta Cheese?
The percentage of sheep milk varies from brand to brand. However, feta cheese contains at least 45% of sheep’s milk, and some brands can go up to 60%. It is to be noted that if the amount of sheep’s milk doesn’t reach 45%, that cheese variety is not authentic feta.
What Is The Percentage Of Goat’s Milk In Feta Cheese?
In authentic Greek feta cheese, the highest known percentage of goat’s milk is 30%. However, traditionally feta cheese is made from 100% sheep’s milk.
What dishes can I make with feta cheese?
Feta cheese, for its savory quality, tastes great on soups, pasta, pizza, and green salads.
Is feta cheese nutritious enough to consume?
Feta cheese is rich in nutrients such as protein, calcium, zinc, potassium, and vitamin B6. It has a high sodium content as well.
These nutrients help to keep the fluid or blood volume so that it can function well. Furthermore, feta is relatively low in fat as compared to other cheeses.This makes it an ideal choice to consume moderately.
How to know if feta cheese goes rancid?
The best way to check if feta cheese has gone bad is to smell and observe its appearance. If you notice an unpleasant smell, sour flavor, or change in color, or molds then it’s best to remove it at once.
Is feta good for weight loss?
Feta cheese has fewer calories than any other cheese, so it is a good choice for weight loss. Twenty-eight grams of feta cheese contains 75 calories.
What is the difference between cheese and feta cheese?
The main difference between feta and goat cheese is the type of milk that each contains. While feta is mostly made of sheep’s milk and in combination with goat milk, other cheese can be made using different kinds of milk.
What are the substitutes for feta cheese?
There are many substitutes for feta cheese, including halloumi, goat cheese, queso fresco, tofu, cotija, and ricotta.