Feta Cheese: A Sour Experience or a Delicious Delight? (Our Investigation Reveals All)

If you are not familiar with this delicacy, you may be wondering, should feta cheese smell sour?

After all, most cheeses do have their own particular odor.

But how do you know if the sour smell of feta means it has gone bad?

What does feta cheese smell like?

What gives the cheese that sour smell?

Does the type of milk used in the cheesemaking process make a difference in how it smells?

We had better answer these smelly questions!

Feta cheese has a distinct sour smell that can be mildly acidic. While some may find it unpleasant, it doesn’t mean it has spoiled and is generally safe to eat. However, a strong vinegar-like odor may indicate it is no longer suitable for consumption. When unsure, follow the Use By date. Feta’s unique smell is due to the presence of bacteria, as it is a fermented cheese.

What Does Feta Cheese Smell Like?

You must have noticed that feta cheese has a very distinctive smell. 

In fact, some people won’t even try it because the smell is so off-putting.

Or they assume it has gone bad.

It has been variously compared to vomit, smelly socks, or unwashed feet.

Doesn’t exactly make you want to rush out and sprinkle it all over your salad!

However, feta cheese should just have a mildly acidic smell.

And this doesn’t affect the taste, which will be creamy and salty, almost savory. 

It is unlikely to have gone off, as it can last several months in the fridge if unopened.

Or up to five days once opened.

If there is a distinct smell of the vinegar, then this may indicate a problem. 

Always check the use-by date and trust your instinct.

Why Does Feta Cheese Smell Sour?

Many kinds of cheese have their own unique smell, but feta is undoubtedly near the top of the list when it comes to unpleasant odors.

So, what causes feta cheese to smell sour?

Feta is a fermented cheese, and that means bacteria are deliberately introduced when it is made.

The bacteria break down the proteins in the cheese, and this, in turn, releases gas. 

It is actually the gas that smells, not the cheese itself.

The specific bacteria is called brevibacterium linens.

It is similar to Brevibacterium epidermidis, and this is responsible for sweaty armpits and smelly feet!

So, you can see why people make the comparison to how feta smells!

The strength of the smell of feta cheese can also be influenced by which type of milk has been used. 

Traditionally, it should be made with sheep’s milk.

However, if goat’s milk is used, then the smell will be stronger, particularly if it’s something you are not used to. 

In the US, cow’s milk can also be used when making feta, and this will have a much milder smell.

The final element that contributes to the smell of feta cheese is yeast.

The yeast feeds on the fatty components and the proteins in the cheese and releases a peculiar smell.

So, a combination of bacteria, yeast, and unfamiliar milk all add up to give you that unwelcome vomit smell!

Does Cheese Smell Like Body Odor?

Final Thoughts

Feta cheese has an unusual smell that many people find unpleasant.

It has been compared to sweaty feet or vomit.

However, it is perfectly safe to eat.

The smell is caused by the presence of bacteria.

The type of milk can also affect the smell, particularly if goat’s milk has been used. 

Yeast feeds on the proteins and fats in feta cheese, and again this contributes to the sour odor.

If in doubt as to whether it should be eaten, always check the Use By date.

If the smell has been putting you off, just give it a go!

You may be pleasantly surprised!

If cheesy odors fascinate you, take a look at why mozzarella has a fishy smell.

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