What’s the best way to store feta cheese if it doesn’t come packed in a brine?
To find out, we submerged feta in a homemade brine (the exact concentration was a guess—we used 2 teaspoons of salt per cup of water), stored another in a tub of tap water, covered a third with olive oil, tightly wrapped a fourth in plastic wrap, and left the last unwrapped but sealed in an airtight container. Ten days later we compared the stored samples with feta from a freshly opened package.
The feta stored in the homemade brine was a bit too salty and dry (which meant that our brine was too strong and pulled water from the cheese). The opposite happened in the tap water sample: The salt was drawn out of the cheese, causing it to taste bland. Some tasters picked up off-notes in the cheeses that were either tightly wrapped in plastic or stored in an airtight container. The winner? The sample stored in olive oil. It seemed to do the best job of protecting the cheese from air, both sealing in moisture and discouraging the proliferation of oxygen-dependent bacteria, which can cause off flavors. To store feta using a minimal amount of oil: Put the cheese in the corner of a small zipper-lock bag and pour in just enough oil to come up the sides. Place the bag in a cup and press down on the cheese to force the excess oil over the top. Stored this way, feta keeps for up to four weeks.