Storing feta in olive oil #347080

Asked July 26, 2016, 11:32 PM EDT

Is it safe to store feta cheese in olive oil? If so, for how long? I pack the feta in olive oil with garlic and rosemary, and take care to ensure that everything is completely submerged in the oil. Recently a friend told me that I'm still at risk of contacting anaerobic pathogens like botulism. Thanks!

Benton County Oregon

Expert Response

There have been cases of botulism when fresh herbs and garlic are stored in oil. The oil seals the herbs and garlic, eliminating any oxygen, and that is when botulism can develop.  We recommend that fresh herbs and garlic not be immersed in oil more than 4 days and during that time, they be stored in the refrigerator.  Beyond that it can be frozen.
It is possible to acidify the herbs and garlic first, if you want to go to the trouble. 

The cheese is another issue.  I have left messages at both OSU and WSU Dairy/Food Processing departments, but have not heard back yet.  It may take a while as summer schedules are unpredictable.  
I know that when feta is included in commercial salad dressings, there is also a substantial amount of acid present, usually vinegar.  That may be a necessary protective feature.    I will follow up with you if I can get more information about the cheese in oil. 

Jeanne Brandt Replied July 27, 2016, 3:11 PM EDT
Hello Again,
I have heard back from one of our dairy product processing specialists. They did not feel that the cheese would be a likely source of botulism when immersed in oi, like the herbs and garlic are,  but the cheese/oil  should be refrigerated because there could be other pathogens that could grow at warmer temperatures.  

Jeanne Brandt Replied August 22, 2016, 4:01 PM EDT

Loading ...