Feta cheese is a matter of acquired taste. For some people, it tastes just fine. But for most people, the sour flavor and strong smell of feta are just too much for them to handle. If this is your first-time eating feta cheese and you are not used to its taste, more likely or not, you will find it bad.
But why does feta cheese taste so bad, anyway?
One possible reason why feta cheese tastes so bad is that the acids in the feta cheese, namely citric, acetic, and lactic, all combine to create an unpleasant and strong taste. Aside from this, due to the way feta cheese is produced, it can usually result in a bitter aftertaste.
Feta cheese also has a high amount of salt that can make it taste not just salty but even sour. To top it all, some people may find the smell of feta cheese somewhat nauseating. All these different factors combined can make feta cheese regarded as one of the world’s most polarizing foods. It means that some people like its unique flavor, but others just find it downright disgusting and brutal.
What is Feta Cheese?
Feta cheese is a type of brined cheese, which means it is placed in a brine solution. It is made either only from the combination of goat and sheep milk or only from sheep milk. It is then allowed to age in brine for at least two months, with good feta aged for up to 12 months.
Feta cheese is considered a PDO or Protected Designation Origin product in the European Union. It means that only feta cheese prepared in some parts of Greece using a particular method can be referred to as feta.
This is different from the US where you will find a lot of cheese products called feta even when they are not made traditionally with the right ingredients, or they are not Greek in the first place. For instance, it is common to see feta cheese made from cow’s milk, something that is actually a big no-no. Feta cheese made using cow’s milk tends to sour easily, crumble easily in a bad way, form a mushy texture, and create an unpleasant aftertaste.
What Does Feta Cheese Taste Like?
Feta cheese has this slightly salty, rich, and tangy flavor. When feta is more aged, it also becomes harder and more peppery. Feta cheese made mainly with sheep’s milk will also have a richer buttery flavor. On the other hand, feta cheese made from goat milk can make the cheese milder in flavor and harder. Despite being a brined cheese, feta cheese has many characteristics of fresh cheese.
Now, you may be surprised to know that there are actually a lot of people who like the taste of feta cheese. This is even though feta cheese has a pungent and strong smell that others describe as rotting or rank.
Since the flavor of feta cheese is also somewhat sour, it means that can be a bit of an acquired taste. However, the moment you get used to the taste, you might even find feta cheese somewhat enjoyable.
Other people also claim that feta cheese can taste like vomit. Some even describe its taste as something similar to feet. However, if you have ever tried eating feta cheese before, likely, you won’t be bothered by its taste.
In case you don’t know, the Greeks are some of the world’s highest consumers of cheese. An average Greek can consume up to 23 kilograms of cheese every year. And half of all this amount of cheese is made up of feta. This is how much Greeks know and love their feta cheese.
What Does Feta Cheese Smell Like?
Many people describe feta cheese to have a funky smell. It surely has a stronger smell compared to most types of cheeses. The smell can even be strong enough to turn off some people even before they get a bite of feta cheese.
The scent of feta cheese can also vary in strength which depends on the age of the cheese. The scents of softer cheeses are often less intense. Feta cheese also has high notes of brine, giving it an additional pungent kick.
Feta cheese also comes in different styles from crumbly to creamy. It is often milder compared to other types of cheeses that have a stronger taste and smell. It makes feta cheese a great pair for fruits or vegetables with sweet flavors.
What is Greek Feta?
Despite being popular all over the world, feta is specifically in demand in Greece which is where this cheese originated from. Feta plays a very important part in Greek cuisine and is even considered one of the national foods of the country. Feta is also commonly added to Mediterranean-style dishes.
Feta cheese may vary in taste depending on the specific region where it is made. Greek feta, in particular, is made with goat or sheep milk, or both. It means that its aroma is less sour compared to Italian-style feta because of the different dairy practices of the two cultures.
Greek feta is also more distinct thanks to its creamier texture and complex flavor profile leaning more towards the salty side. This is typically served together with olives as well as other kinds of Mediterranean cuisine.
Is Feta Cheese Healthy?
Feta cheese boasts an intense flavor, and you can expect good results if you use less of it. It also naturally contains lower fat by weight compared to other cheeses due to its high-water content. It also has lower amounts of calories than other cheeses with more intense flavors. Feta cheese can also be a good source of protein, phosphorus, and calcium.
The Bottom Line
Feta cheese might taste so bad because of the unique way it is made. However, its taste is an acquired one and those who love sour and funky flavors should definitely give it a try. Feta cheese also pairs well with various kinds of foods, and you can use it in different dishes.
If you are feeling a bit adventurous, don’t hesitate to get a bite of feta cheese. For all you know, you might end up liking it more than you thought you would.