Choose wisely; there are stealthy but distinct differences among selections of feta cheese at your grocery store. It’s important to know how to pick out the good stuff. If you’re anything like I used to be, you don’t even know what you’re missing.

Traditionally, authentic feta cheese is made from sheep’s milk, and sometimes goat’s milk is added. As a result of diet and hormones, sheep and goat milks lend distinct gamey, grassy, and slightly yogurty notes to their final products. They tend to develop a creamy yet crumbly texture, so the mouthfeel is unique as well.

Regrettably, most feta in the U.S. is made with plain ol’ cow’s milk, which doesn’t yield the same flavor or texture as traditional feta– in fact, I would call it bland and a bit rubbery. Cow’s milk is mega-mass-produced here so it’s cheaper to manufacture feta from it, rather than doing it the right way. It should almost be labeled ‘imitation feta’. Check the ingredients to see whether your cheese is authentic or a counterfeit.

When buying feta, the other important thing is to buy a block that’s still packed in brine, for the same reason you buy pickles packed in their brine. Feta dries out somewhat quickly so if you buy dry feta, that’s exactly what you’re going to have. It will be bland and a bit chalky or pasty. Definitely avoid the pre-crumbled stuff! It won’t be worth the 30 seconds you save on crumbling time. When the cheese is stored in its brine, it stays creamy, supple, and moist. If it’s a bit too salty for your liking, just give the block a quick rinse in cold water before crumbling or cubing.

Treat yourself to the good stuff just once, and I doubt you’ll go back.


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