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We used to pay a lot of money for marinated feta.  On our quest to source the delicious, creamy version used by our local Greek taverna, we tried just about every type available at the deli counter, including Persian, Greek and Australian.  None were quite what we were after.

Then one day, in desperation, I asked the taciturn Greek owner which feta he was using.  He grunted, “Bulgarian”.  It had never occurred to us to try the inexpensive brined cheeses available at the supermarket, but they turned out to be exactly what we were looking for.

These cheeses often don’t even have “feta” on the packaging.  They’re very cheap – we pay about $8 for 500g (a little over 1lb) – and they come with a long expiry date.  That’s because the cheese has been brined (soaked in salty liquid) to preserve it.  The secret to enjoying it is to rinse and soak it first – it’s way too salty to eat without processing.

Here is the brand we now buy:

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This is what it looks like when you first open the container – soaking in a salty brine.  Carefully tip the liquid out of the container, then cut the solid block into large chunks.  Be gentle, as the cheese can be quite crumbly.

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Fill the container with cool filtered water, cover and allow it to sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

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The next day, drain the water off.  If you can, arrange the blocks so that they fit tightly into the bottom of the container – this will minimise the amount of oil you need to add.  Pete will often tip them over, so that they’re packed closely together, but I tend to break them up when I do that, so I don’t bother.  The oil isn’t wasted anyway – we’ll use it on our pizzas and focaccias.

Sprinkle over some dried rosemary and a little ground pepper. I slice a couple of cloves of garlic, fry them in a little oil, then add them in as well. Of course, you could add whatever you want here – whole peppercorns and spices might be nice.

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Cover the feta with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and grapeseed oil.   The flavour is wonderful, but if you use straight olive oil, it will coagulate in the fridge.  We find grapeseed oil works well, but use other vegetable oils if you prefer.  Just make sure the olive oil is 50% or less of the total oil added.

Store the marinated feta in the fridge, where it will keep for several weeks.  Make sure to keep the container tightly sealed and the blocks covered in oil.

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