Feta vs. Cream Cheese

Is cream cheese a cheese? It may not look like one but cream cheese is a legit cheese yes. Feta cheese or cream cheese, which one to use? Well first, they are not the same. They used and served differently.

Feta cheese is an aged cheese made from goat, buffalo, cow, and sheep milk, or in a combination. Cream cheese is a fresh cheese made from cow milk and cream.

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So, Is feta cheese or cream cheese better? It depends on how you want to use them. For instance, you are looking to use them as a table cheese to eat by itself, or you’re using for a recipe, grating on top, cooked with dishes, make a dip sauce, use in mac and cheese, sandwich spreads, you got the idea.

Below I will explain everything you need to know about these two soft cheeses.

How is Feta different?

Is feta a hard or soft cheese? Feta is a white, crumbly soft cheese originated from Greece. It is an aged cheese mature in an oak barrel traditionally for a minimum of 3 months, up to a few years. It’s one of the most known cheese and widely popular in many Mediterranean dishes. Feta is a PDO product which means protected by EU, and It’s restricted to be made from only goat and sheep milk, and only in certain regions in Greece.

It is made by first curdling the milk by adding bacteria culture and rennet, the curds will then be drained and pressed, later brined to cure. See how it’s made here.

Australian Marinated Feta by Meredith Dairy, link here.

Feta cheese has a long history to trace. It has been made since the record of 8th century BC. The PDO regulations preserve the heritage, and also to ensure consistency. Yea, you better have a taste of the past, I added a link up there to Amazon so you’ll have no excuse.

And thanks to PDO, you can enjoy the good taste and quality.

What makes feta cheese apart from cream cheese is the fact that it’s made from sheep or goat milk, which will normally have a tangier unique taste than those made from the cow’s. Somebody actually asked me, Is feta dairy free? here is my response.

Some feta is made only with sheep’s milk which will taste a lot tangier, but many combines with goat’s milk to balance out the flavor and became milder. 

Feta normally prepared in blocks format, it crumbles easily when cut and taste nice and creamy. Unlike cream cheese which is melty, feta doesn’t melt. Therefore you can fry or grill it however you like. It also makes an excellent table cheese to eat by itself or use in many dishes.

Despite feta is arguably one of the healthiest cheese, but here is the things you should consider.

It’s not recommended for people with histamine intolerance due to high histamine content, as I explained in detail here.

The bright side, feta comes with a lot of vitamins and nutrients such as iron, folate, vitamins A and K, magnesium and pantothenic acid. Not to mention, it’s a great source of calcium. For dieting people, It has fewer calories and less total fat than most other aged cheeses.

Feta also has a good amount of probiotics which are good bacteria to help to promote better gut health. But be careful of your sodium intake, feta is brined and can get a little salty. Feta does content 0.5% of lactose, considered low in general, but higher than other aged cheeses.

Funny enough, some people actually ask me why does feta smell like feet? well, I lost my words.

And one last important thing, not all brands sell pasteurized feta. In the US, feta has to be pasteurized according to the FDA as unpasteurized one may contain Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. I listed a number of brands here in this article for your reference.

Cream Cheese in comparison

Some people wonder if cream cheese is a real cheese, the answer is yes, cream cheese is definitely a real cheese. But unlike the solid cheese like feta, cream cheese is a fresh spreadable soft cheese that meant to eat fresh, and without going through months of aging. The ingredients is similar to make a regular cheese, you will only need milk, cream, salt and vinegar. That’s it! Watch how it’s made here.

There is also a version called light cream cheese with 1/3 less fat, this one here.

Cream cheese is made from cow milk, and it tastes mild and creamy. It became popular since 1872 where Philadelphia was the biggest producer of cream cheese until today.

Cream cheese is runny and moist, and It doesn’t last long once opened. It has a few days up to 1 week shelf life in the fridge. If you left out cream cheese opened and unrefrigerated, It will only last for a few hours until the mold start to take place.

Cream cheese often sold in brick blocks or in tub containers. Both are pretty much the same, as the cream cheese spread is basically a whipped cream cheese that mixed with other ingredients such as yogurt, thus easier to spread on bread or cracker.

While feta is more on the cooking side, cream cheese serve well in bakes and dessert.

It pairs well with bagels or crackers, make a frosting for cake, make a cheesecake, go with pasta or mac and cheese, and more.

There are many flavor of cream cheese you can choose, such as fruits, herbs, honey, and even salmon.

Philadelphia original cream cheese, link here.

Cream cheese use cow milk, so it’s not vegan-friendly but is vegetarian-friendly, like the one above. They use microbial enzymes or microbial rennet derived from bacteria or mold to curd the milk, as the “cheese culture” stated in ingredient list there. Others may use animal rennet. If you would like to make your own vegetarian cream cheese at home, you can try vegetarian rennet like this one or vinegar.

Nutritional Comparison

*1 slice or 1 oz serving of Feta and Cream cheese.

Feta Cream Cheese
Total Fat 5.99 g 10 g
Saturated Fat 4.51 g 5.99 g
Cholesterol 15.1 mg 30 mg
Sodium 280 mg 105 mg
Protein 5.01 g2 g
Iron1.1 mg0 mg
Potassium19.9 mg
Calcium100 mg0 mg
Carbohydrates 0 g 1 g
Calories 70 kcal100 kcal
Vitamin A300 IU
USDA source link: Feta by Dodoni, and Cream cheese by Philadelphia.

So, which cheese is better?

Feta and cream cheese are both delicious and can be used in many different way.

If you want a cheese that melts or more spreadable, cream cheese is the better choice. If you want a cheese that crumbles on salad or soup, and doesn’t melt, feta is the one to go with.

If you are pregnant, lactose intolerance or vegetarian, cream cheese is better than feta. Other than that, it’s a matter of taste. If you prefer a sharper and tangier cheese, go with feta. If you prefer a cheese with milder flavor, you’re more likely to enjoy cream cheese.

QnA

Feta cheese vs. sour cream (and yogurt, and cream cheese)

Feta cheese is an aged crumbly cheese made from sheep and goat milk. Milk is curdled, drained, brined, and left to mature for months or years. It taste tangy and salty.

Sour cream is made by fermenting only cream with bacteria, and left to mature lightly for about 24 hours. Other type of consolidating agents such as vinegar or rennet enzymes, can be used for the same purpose of thickening the cream. Sour cream tastes tart, sour, and a little tangy.

Yogurt is similar to sour cream. But instead of cream, it’s made by fermenting milk with bacteria. The milk isn’t drained, resulted in a 100% yield. Those that drained and left with curds, are called yogurt cheese.

Cream cheese is a fresh cheese just like any other normal cheese, it’s made with milk, cream, culture, acid, and salt. But it’s eaten fresh and didn’t go through maturing.

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