Why Does Feta Cheese Spark in the Microwave? (Explained!)

Have you ever noticed this and wondered why does feta cheese spark in the microwave?

Mind you, why would you put feta in the microwave in the first place?

Is it just feta and not other cheeses, and if so, why?  

Is the sparking anything to do with the liquid on the feta?

Is it actually dangerous if your feta cheese is causing sparks in the microwave?

Let’s find the answer to these electrifying questions!

The sparking effect when microwaving feta cheese is called arcing, caused by its high mineral content. Microwaves bounce off minerals such as magnesium, selenium, and iron, which may be present in the cheese. It may contain small metal fragments that react to microwaves. Arcing doesn’t harm the cheese and it remains edible. Due to its acidity and moisture, feta may not melt in the microwave. To promote melting, cover it with water or lemon juice.

What Happens When You Microwave Feta Cheese?

I bet that when you put your feta cheese in the microwave, you did not expect to see sparks flying off it!

It doesn’t happen all the time, but it is undoubtedly a strange occurrence.

So, why does feta cheese cause sparks in the microwave?

First of all, this sparking effect is actually called arcing.

This happens when microwaves hit anything metallic.

You can see this if, for example, you put cutlery in the microwave, but I wouldn’t suggest you do this for safety reasons.

But surely feta doesn’t contain any metal?

Actually, certain minerals such as iron, magnesium, and selenium do contain metal and will react with microwaves.

Feta cheese contains all these minerals, plus zinc and phosphorus that can cause sparks to fly!

The minerals come from sheep’s milk, that feta cheese is made from.

However, it doesn’t cause any harm to the cheese, it will still be perfectly edible.

Perhaps don’t leave it unattended, though…

Does Feta Cheese Melt in the Microwave?

Having found out about the sparking from feta cheese, let’s talk about why you would put it in the microwave in the first place.

Perhaps you were hoping it would melt to perhaps make a creamy dip?

If so, then no doubt you will have been sadly disappointed.

Feta cheese is notoriously difficult to melt. 

This is because it not only has a high moisture content but high acidity levels too. 

The best way to encourage it to melt is to place it in a microwave-safe bowl.

Immerse the feta cheese in water or lemon juice for 15 seconds, and repeat as necessary until you get the required consistency.

Smaller pieces of cheese will melt faster.

If you are hoping to create a sauce rather than a dip, then adding a small amount of milk speeds up the process. 

Realistically, it would be better to heat the feta in a saucepan on the stove. 

The direct heat will help to turn it into a delicious creamy sauce.

Adding cornstarch or flour will stop it from becoming lumpy.

Feta is unlikely to melt in the oven.

It will probably soften slightly, but the acid in the cheese will inhibit melting.

This is because the proteins in the cheese will tighten, and this causes the moisture to leak out. 

The result will be a dry cheese that does not have enough liquid to melt. 

This also accounts for why you shouldn’t expect that feta cheese on a pizza will melt.

What Does Metal Really Do in a Microwave?

Final Thoughts

Feta cheese sparks in the microwave as it contains several minerals, such as iron and zinc.

These are equivalent to minuscule pieces of metal and will react with microwaves.

The cheese is not harmed in any way and can still be eaten.

Feta is unlikely to melt in a microwave due to its high moisture and acidity levels.

It would need to be immersed in lemon juice or water to start the melting process.

I hope you enjoy your tasty feta dip, perfect with pitta bread or crunchy raw vegetables!

Having read this, now you can find out if it’s safe to microwave mozzarella sticks.

Leave a Comment