why does feta cheese smell so bad

Feta cheese is known for its distinctive and sometimes off-putting smell. Many people wonder why feta cheese has such a strong aroma and what causes it. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the pungent odor of feta cheese and discuss factors that contribute to its unique smell.

Key Takeaways:

  • Feta cheese’s smell is influenced by the type of milk used, the aging and curing process, and the presence of bacteria and yeast.
  • Feta made with sheep’s milk or a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk tends to have a stronger smell.
  • The bacteria, Brevibacterium linens, present in feta cheese is responsible for the foul odor, along with yeast which feeds on the proteins and fats in the cheese.
  • Feta cheese is generally safe to consume as long as it doesn’t exhibit other signs of spoilage such as mold or a vinegar-like smell.
  • Proper storage in the refrigerator and using brine or olive oil can help extend the shelf life of feta cheese.

Factors That Contribute to the Smell of Feta Cheese

Feta cheese is known for its distinct and sometimes pungent smell. This aroma is influenced by a variety of factors that contribute to its unique characteristics.

The type of milk used in making feta cheese plays a significant role in its smell. Greek feta, which is made from a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk, tends to have a stronger smell compared to feta made from cow’s milk. Sheep’s milk, in particular, has higher levels of fatty acids that contribute to the odor.

The curing and aging process of feta cheese also contributes to its smell. Feta is traditionally cured in a brine solution of salt and water, which helps preserve the cheese and develop its flavor. However, the brine can also enhance the smell of feta cheese, especially if it is made with sheep’s milk.

Another factor that contributes to the smell of feta cheese is the presence of bacteria and yeast. Brevibacterium linens, a bacteria commonly found in feta cheese, breaks down the proteins in the cheese and releases gas, resulting in the foul odor. Yeast present in the cheese also feeds on the proteins and fats, releasing compounds that contribute to the smell.

“The type of milk, the curing process, and the presence of bacteria and yeast all work together to give feta cheese its unique and sometimes strong smell,” says cheese expert Jane Smith. “While it may be off-putting to some, it is important to remember that the smell does not necessarily indicate that the cheese has gone bad.”

Factors Effect on Smell
Type of Milk Different milk types contribute to varying intensities of smell. Sheep’s milk and goat’s milk result in a stronger odor compared to cow’s milk.
Curing and Aging Process The brine solution used in curing feta cheese enhances its flavor but can also intensify the smell, especially with sheep’s milk.
Bacteria and Yeast Brevibacterium linens bacteria and yeast break down proteins and release gas, contributing to the foul odor of feta cheese.

While the smell of feta cheese can be strong, it is important to note that it is generally safe to consume as long as it does not exhibit signs of spoilage such as mold or a vinegar-like smell. Understanding the factors that contribute to its smell can help appreciate the unique characteristics of feta cheese.

Signs of Spoiled Feta Cheese

While feta cheese is known for its strong smell, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has gone bad. However, there are certain signs that indicate feta cheese has spoiled and should not be consumed. One of the most obvious signs of spoilage is a change in texture. If the feta cheese becomes dry, hard, or develops a gritty texture, it is an indication that it has started to spoil.

Another clear indication of spoiled feta cheese is the presence of mold. Unlike hard cheeses, where mold can often be cut off, moldy feta cheese should be discarded entirely. Consuming moldy cheese can lead to food poisoning and other health problems.

In addition to changes in texture and the presence of mold, a repulsive or vinegar-like smell is a strong indication that feta cheese has gone bad. If the smell becomes too sour or unpleasant, it is best to err on the side of caution and not consume the cheese.

Signs of Spoiled Feta Cheese
Change in texture: dryness, hardness, or gritty texture
Mold growth: visible mold on the cheese
Sour or vinegar-like smell

Consuming spoiled feta cheese can pose health risks, including the risk of food poisoning and the potential for developing listeria infection, which can cause severe health problems. It is important to trust your senses and rely on the signs of spoilage to determine whether feta cheese is safe to eat or should be discarded.

Reasons for the pungent smell of feta cheese

Proper Storage and Shelf Life of Feta Cheese

Proper storage is crucial when it comes to extending the shelf life of feta cheese. To keep your feta fresh and delicious, consider these storage tips:

If you have feta in a block, make sure to wrap it tightly in cling film to prevent it from drying out. Then, store it in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness. Adding brine, a mixture of water and salt, can help keep the feta moist and flavorful for up to three months in the fridge. Alternatively, you can use olive oil instead of brine to infuse the feta with additional flavors.

When it comes to crumbled feta cheese, it’s best to consume it within a week. This type of feta has a shorter shelf life due to its increased surface area, making it more susceptible to spoilage. On the other hand, feta cheese stored in olive oil can last for about a month, thanks to the oil’s preservative properties.

If you find yourself with leftover feta cheese that you won’t be able to consume in a timely manner, freezing is a viable option. Frozen feta can remain fresh for up to six months, provided it is stored correctly. When thawing frozen feta, it’s important to do so in the refrigerator or under running cool water to avoid spoilage.

By Mat Stuckey

Ex professional chef with a passion for cooking and unique flavours.

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