Feta cheese is a well-known ingredient that adds flavor to numerous dishes such as salads, pastas, and sandwiches. Occasionally, heating up the feta cheese may be necessary for a recipe or to soften it. One common inquiry is whether it is safe to microwave feta cheese. While some individuals are cautious, others may view it as a fast and convenient solution.
In this article, we will examine the issue of microwaving feta cheese, including the advantages and disadvantages.
Can You Microwave Feta Cheese?
You can microwave feta cheese, but it won’t melt in the same way that a stringy cheese like cheddar or mozzarella would. This is because feta cheese has a very high acidity content, which prevents it from melting into those smooth strings.
However, you can still use a microwave to make your feta easier to work with and even out its texture somewhat for various recipes.
Here’s a short guide on how to melt feta cheese in the microwave:
To melt Feta cheese in the microwave, first, you need to spread it out on a microwavable plate and add a pinch of cornstarch and a splash of milk. Next, zap it for about 30 seconds intervals and stir in between until you have evened out the cheese’s consistency.
Once you have your melted Feta cheese, go ahead and smother it over that yummy pasta dish of yours, then sit back, relax, and enjoy!
Why Doesn’t Feta Melt?
It is not only Feta cheese that is hard to melt. Other cheeses that are high in acid, like goat cheese, Indian paneer, or Italian ricotta, don’t melt either. How could it be? Does this mean that they are all bad cheeses? Of course not.
The reason that feta doesn’t melt is because of its high acidity level. You may be interested to learn that for every 150-gram block of feta cheese, around 19% of it is acidic.
At a very low pH, the protein chains in the cheese are really tightly bound to each other. This means that they are difficult to break apart and cause the cheese to spread into that stringy texture.
When high acid cheese varieties are heated, they don’t melt. Instead, they form a dense but soft texture. If you bake or fry it, you will get that crispy browned surface with a crumbly and smooth texture inside. In many parts of the world, this is how most people enjoy their feta cheese.
How To Melt Feta Cheese in the Microwave
Although it is a bit tricky, you can use a microwave to melt Feta cheese if you do it properly. The trick here is to crumble the cheese first and add something that prevents the protein from clumping together.
Here are quick steps you can follow:
- If your Feta cheese was refrigerated, take it out and let it sit on the counter to come to room temperature but don’t leave it for more than two hours to avoid bacteria growth.
- Crumble your feta cheese. Use small pieces to make them easier to melt.
- Place the crumbled feta cheese in a microwave-safe bowl.
- Add a sprinkle of starch such as flour or cornstarch, and add a splash of milk. This will prevent it from clumping together in the microwave.
- Microwave on medium in 15-second intervals. Stir each time thoroughly.
- Continue until the cheese is melted to your desired texture.
- And voila! Your feta cheese is now ready to be used on its own or in your favorite recipes.
The Best Way to Melt Feta Cheese
Aside from using a microwave, there are also other ways to melt feta cheese. You can mix your Feta cheese with other cheeses that will melt well, like mozzarella, for instance, while you heat it.
Another way is to double boil it, and in my opinion, this is the best way to melt feta cheese.
Why? Because this method provides better overall control of the process. It also allows you to gently stir the cheese until it gets the consistency that you desire.
To melt feta cheese the stovetop way, follow these steps:
- Prepare a double boiler.
- Crumble your Feta cheese and place it in the top pot of the double boiler.
- Pour milk over the cheese and let it sit for a minute or two.
- Now turn your stove to medium heat and let the water in the bottom pot come to a slow boil.
- As it heats up, stir your Feta cheese until it gets the consistency that you want.
- Remove from heat. Add a little cornstarch if you want to thicken it up or water if you want to thin it down.
- Now you’ve got your melted Feta cheese ready!
Is Feta Cheese Good for Health?
Feta cheese is a good source of protein, vitamins A and B6, Phosphorus as well as calcium. It has some amounts of sodium and saturated fat, but they are lower than most cheese varieties.
Some researchers have found when eaten in moderation, Feta cheese has the following health benefits:
- Improve bone health
- Help with weight loss
- Promote a healthy gut and support a healthy immune system
- Help control your blood’s sugar levels
Also, it could be an option if you are dairy sensitive as it has an anti-inflammatory effect and is less likely to cause allergy symptoms. Just remember that Feta cheese is high in sodium which can contribute to high blood pressure, so don’t go overboard with it.
Can Feta Cheese Go Bad?
Like all cheeses, Feta cheese has a shelf life. The shelf life itself can vary depending on the packaging, storage, and care while being stored. Typically, Feta cheese comes in either crumbled or block form.
An unopened package of crumbled Feta cheese that is properly stored in the fridge can last up to a week past its expiration date. Once opened, it should be consumed within 5 days to prevent the cheese from spoiling regardless of the expiration date.
Brined feta cheese in a block form has a longer shelf life than regular feta cheese because of the brine solution that Feta is soaked in. As long as the cheese stays submerged in the solution and sealed, it can last up to 6 months. Once the package is opened, it will only last for a month.
How To Store Feta Cheese
If you have some Feta cheese leftover after your cooking session, you should refrigerate or freeze it right away.
Here’s how you should properly store it:
If you have purchased the cheese in a block form that did not come in a brining solution, you can extend its shelf life by making your own brining solution. To make one, you need three cups of cool water and 1/4 cup of salt.
Stir until the salt is completely dissolved, then place a block of Feta cheese and submerge it completely into the solution. Place it in an airtight container and place it in the fridge. Feta cheese should last up to a month this way.
To freeze a crumbled feta cheese, simply place it in an airtight, freezer-friendly container and place it in your freezer. A block of Feta cheese should be wrapped in damp paper towels and wax paper prior to being placed in an airtight container and stashed in the freezer.
When you want to thaw your Feta cheese, you can thaw it in a refrigerator overnight or simply place it under cold running water. You can then use the cheese as desired. However, remember that once Feta cheese has been thawed, it should not be refrozen.
In conclusion, microwaving feta cheese is possible, but it will not melt like other cheeses due to its high acidity content. However, you can still make it easier to work with and even out its texture by microwaving it with cornstarch and milk.
Additionally, feta cheese has various health benefits when consumed in moderation, but it should be stored properly to avoid spoilage.
Double boiling is considered the best way to melt feta cheese, but mixing it with other melting cheeses like mozzarella can also work. Whether you choose to microwave or double boil, enjoy your melted feta cheese in your favorite recipes or on its own.