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

Feta cheese sparks in the microwave due to its high mineral content, including iron, magnesium, and selenium. These minerals can cause arcing but don’t harm the cheese. Feta’s high moisture and acidity levels prevent it from melting easily. Covering it with water or lemon juice can help with melting.

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 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?

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, which 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 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.

Does this article encourage you to explore alternative methods of heating or incorporating feta into your dishes?

Let us know in the comments below!

FAQ

Q1: Why does feta cheese spark in the microwave?
A1: Feta cheese sparks in the microwave due to its high mineral content, including iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and phosphorus. These minerals can react with microwaves, causing arcing (sparking), but this does not harm the cheese.

Q2: Is it safe to microwave feta cheese despite the sparking?
A2: Yes, it’s safe to microwave feta cheese despite the sparking. The sparking is due to minerals in the cheese reacting with the microwave, but it doesn’t harm the cheese or make it inedible.

Q3: Why is feta cheese difficult to melt in the microwave?
A3: Feta cheese is difficult to melt due to its high moisture and acidity levels. These characteristics prevent the cheese from melting easily, unlike other cheeses.

Q4: How can you encourage feta cheese to melt in the microwave?
A4: To encourage feta cheese to melt, place it in a microwave-safe bowl, immerse it in water or lemon juice, and microwave for 15 seconds, repeating as necessary. Smaller pieces of cheese will melt faster, and adding a small amount of milk can help if making a sauce.

Leave a Comment