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I just came across some instructions on how to store feta cheese, mentioning you can keep it for about 3 months in the fridge in a brine or milk bath:

  • Store the cheese in a brine or milk bath if you do not intend to use it for a long period of time. A milk bath will result in a creamier, softer taste, while brine will add depth to the cheese and retain its pleasant saltiness. To make brine, mix 1 lb. of kosher salt in 1 gallon of water.

  • Place the feta into an airtight container and cover it with the brine or milk.

  • Cover the container with a lid and store it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh for up to three months.

From: http://www.ehow.com/how_6496964_store-feta-cheese.html

A similar claim is stated here:

If you will not be consuming it immediately, store feta cheese in a brine or milk bath. The milk bath will reduce the saltiness and help keep the cheese moist and mild in flavor. Properly stored in brine or milk and refrigerated, feta cheese will last up to 3 months. Feta cheese is not a candidate for freezing.

From: http://homecooking.about.com/od/cheeseinformation/a/fetatips.htm

I can believe the feta will keep that long in the brine, given the pound of salt that goes in. But I'm more skeptical about the milk bath. Wouldn't the milk spoil a lot sooner and affect the feta too? Or does enough salt leak out of the feta to act as a preservative for the milk as well? Or is the idea simply that you regularly replace the milk (though the instructions don't mention this)? Does anyone have any experience with this?

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I don't know what the actual risk is, but the fact that this article comes from ehow makes me doubt its credibility. –  rumtscho May 30 '12 at 21:57
    
Yeah, I'm as dubious as you. Milk? Really? –  FuzzyChef May 31 '12 at 4:23
    
@Rinzwind by linking to eh0w, you are actually increase the google ranking of the copied eh0w artical. Feel free to unlink it :-) –  TFD Sep 18 '12 at 4:54

2 Answers 2

I'm not sure when that about.com article was written, but if it was posted less than about about 8 months ago, it may have plagarized The Culinarian: A Kitchen Desk Reference by Barbara Ann Kipfer. In that, Kipfer provides "Hints" after the description of what feta is (p. 224-225; you can view it on Google Books):

Consumers who dislike feta's salty taste may soak the cheese in fresh water to leach out some of the salt...Feta cheese is best when eaten fresh, so always check the date. If you will not be consuming it immediately, store feta cheese in a brine or milk bath in the refrigerator. The milk bath will reduce the saltiness and help keep the cheese moist and mild in flavor. Properly stored in brine or milk and refrigerated, feta cheese will last for up to three months. Feta cheese is not a candidate for freezing. Barrel-aged feta sold straight from the barrel may be wrapped in lightweight paper, then wrapped in a plastic bag or plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator. Keep the feta in paper, even when the paper gets soggy from the cheese moisture.

Emphasis is mine to show you that the bit about the milk bath matches about.com's article word for word.

Since The Culinarian was published by Wiley & Sons, a reputable publisher that puts out a lot of textbooks and academic and trade journals, I would assume that it was properly fact-checked. Given that Kipfer talks about salt leaching out into regular water and the milk bath reducing the saltiness of the cheese, I would guess that there's a strong chance enough salt leaches into the milk bath to act as a preservative.

Take all this with a grain of salt, though (no pun intended); I've never tried keeping feta in a milk bath myself.

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I like your answer! But it gave me the idea to use the Internet Archive to check how far back the about.com page might go and it has a copy from March 2009 (web.archive.org/web/20090322231826/http://homecooking.about.com/…) on which the text I quoted also appeared, while the book you are referring to was published in October 2011 according to Amazon. So it seems the book might actually be plagiarizing the about.com page, rather than the other way around. –  Rinzwind Jun 1 '12 at 19:15
    
@Rinzwind Interesting. I would still hope that anything published through Wiley was thoroughly fact-checked, but I also would like to know where about.com got their information! I may ask the guy at my local cheese shop if I go grocery shopping this weekend and see if he knows anything about this. –  Laura Jun 1 '12 at 19:19

Just a note: You should not "store" feta in a milk bath. If you wish to reduce the saltiness, soak what you are going to immediately use in milk for a couple of hours prior to use. Otherwise you want to store feta in a brine solution, preferable 12-16% salt by weight. The recommendations of 1 pound of salt per gallon of water is a saturated brine and will increase the saltiness of your feta. On the other hand, if you want to store the feta for months that is likely the way to go, and then just do the soak in milk thing for what you are going to use. I make my own cheeses, including feta and it is quite amazing how much misinformation is available on the web.

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