What is Danish White Cheese?
Danish white cheese, sometimes also called Danish feta, is a type of semi-soft cream cheese made in Denmark. It gets its name from its stark white color.
It is made from cow's milk only and has a fat content around 20%. The texture is smooth, creamy, and sliceable - it doesn't crumble. The flavor is mild and creamy.
Danish white is often sold cubed and packed in brine, similar to feta. However, the brining is just for flavor and storage, not part of the actual cheesemaking process.
Key Takeaway: Danish white cheese is a mild, smooth cow's milk cheese from Denmark often confused with feta.
How Danish White Cheese is Made
Danish white cheese is made using a modern process called ultrafiltration (UF). First, pasteurized cow's milk is filtered to concentrate the proteins. Then, starter cultures and rennet are mixed in to help the milk curdle.
The curds set into a smooth, solid block without separating curds and whey. Then the cheese is brined briefly for flavor, but it is not an aging or fermenting step.
So while traditional feta involves draining whey from the curd, Danish white skips that step. This results in a creamier, smoother final product.
What is Feta Cheese?
Feta is a traditional Greek style of brined white cheese, made from sheep and goat's milk. By law, authentic feta must contain at least 70% sheep's milk, with goat milk making up the remaining 30% at most.
True feta has a crumbly texture and is quite salty and tangy in flavor. It has been made in Greece for centuries, originally aged in barrels full of whey or brine.
Key Takeaway: Feta is a traditional Greek cheese made from sheep and goat's milk with a salty, tangy flavor.
How Feta Cheese is Made
Authentic feta cheese is made using a traditional slow curd method. First, starter cultures and rennet are stirred into the sheep and goat's milk to help it curdle.
Next, the curdled solids are separated from the liquid whey, then cut into cubes. The curd cubes are strained of excess whey, then molded and pressed into blocks.
Finally, the cheese blocks are aged for months fully immersed in a brine solution. This aging and brining gives feta its signature crumbly texture and tangy, robust flavor. The brine acts as a preservative as well.
So feta relies much more heavily on curd separation, aging, and brining steps compared to Danish white cheese.
The first major difference between these cheeses comes down to the types of milk used:
- Danish white is made from cow's milk only.
- Feta contains a mix of at least 70% sheep's milk and 30% goat's milk. Using no cow's milk at all.
This difference in milk types also leads to differences in fat and protein content:
The sheep and goat milk in feta provide more fat solids as well as more protein compared to cow's milk.
The different production methods lead to major differences in texture:
- Danish white has a smooth, sliceable texture. It's creamy and does not crumble easily.
- Feta has a crumbly, crumbly texture. It can easily break apart into small pieces.
Danish white skips the curd separation step, so the finished cheese holds together in a cohesive mass without gaps or breaks.
Feta's curds are cut and drained of whey, then pressed together, so the final cheese has visible gaps and cracks between the knitted curds. This makes it crumble apart with pressure.
Along with texture, flavor is another major point of difference:
- Danish white has a very mild, creamy flavor. Some even describe it as bland or boring.
- Feta is much more salty, tangy, and robust in flavor by comparison. It also develops more complex nutty or peppery notes during aging.
The sheep and goat milk contribute to feta's bolder flavor. But the main difference comes from the brining and aging steps feta goes through, allowing tangy flavors to develop over months.
By contrast, Danish white spends minimal time in brine, more for storage than aging. So it retains a mild, fresh dairy flavor.
Key Takeaway: Feta is salty and tangy in flavor due to sheep's milk and months of aging in brine, while Danish white has a very mild flavor.
Due to the differences in texture and flavor, Danish white and feta cheeses tend to be used in different ways:
Popular uses for Danish white cheese:
- Creamy salad dressing base
- Smooth dips and spreads
- Fillings for savory pastries, crepes, omelets
- Toppings for flatbreads, crackers, sandwiches
Popular uses for feta cheese:
- Crumbled over salads
- Ingredients in cooked dishes like spanakopita
- Combined with herbs and olive oil as an appetizer
- Baked into savory tarts or vegetable dishes
So Danish white works better in smooth applications where feta's crumbles would be undesirable. Feta is better for dishes where its strong flavor holds up or for crumbling over other ingredients.
There is often a noticeable price difference between these two cheeses:
- Danish white tends to be less expensive than feta - even from the same brand.
- Feta usually has a higher retail price tag. Authentic Greek feta especially can get quite expensive.
This price difference comes down to a few factors:
- Feta requires more time, labor, ingredients, and care to make properly.
- Economies of scale - Denmark produces much higher volumes of Danish white than Greece does feta.
- Feta is still often imported, incurring transport costs.
So while Danish white delivers value for money, fans find feta's premium price worthwhile for the complex, authentic flavor.
Related to the points above, you'll also find big differences in where these cheeses are available:
- Danish white is primarily found in Northern European countries, especially the UK and Scandinavia. That's where the majority of it gets produced and exported.
- Feta is far more widely available, sold across Europe, North America, Australia, the Middle East, and more. As the original, authentic version it has become popular worldwide.
So depending on where you live, you may find one cheese easier to source from local stores than the other. Danish white has yet to gain as much recognition outside northern Europe.
As fresh cheeses made from milk, Danish white and feta have quite similar nutritional values.
Per 100 grams, both provide high amounts of calcium and protein. Feta contains more fat and sodium due to the sheep's milk and salty brining:
The differences are minor enough that both can be considered nutrient-dense foods. Feta adds a lot more salt to your diet but provides valuable proteins and fats.
Which Cheese is More Authentic?
When it comes to authenticity, feta wins hands-down. As mentioned earlier:
- Feta has PDO protected status in the EU. This means only cheese made in Greece using traditional methods can legally be called "feta" in Europe.
- Danish white cheese has only been around since the 1970s. So while good in its own right, it lacks the history, tradition, and legal protections around the name that feta enjoys.
So real feta cheese is tied intrinsically to Greek culture, customs, and cuisine in a way Danish white cannot match.
Which Cheese Would You Recommend?
Which cheese I'd recommend really depends on the use case:
- For a mild breaking cheese to slice or melt smoothly, I would go with Danish white. It works great in cooking applications where feta would get too crumbly. The lower price is also nice for everyday cooking.
- For salads, appetizers, and dishes where you want bold, tangy flavor in crumbles, curds or chunks, traditional feta is a must. The complex flavor and crumbly texture are perfect for these applications.
Is Danish white cheese just a cheap version of feta?
No, Danish white cheese is not just a "cheap knock-off" version of feta - it is its own distinct type of cheese. How it is made and ingredients used really make it a different product from traditional feta. Danish white cheese tends to be less expensive, but that doesn't mean lower quality.
Why can some cheeses outside Greece still be labeled as feta?
The PDO protections on the name "feta" mainly apply within the European Union. In other countries like the USA, Australia or Canada, cheesemakers can use the name even for non-traditional versions. So there may be fewer restrictions elsewhere on labeling white brined cheese as "feta".
Can I use Danish white the same as feta in recipes?
You can substitute Danish white for feta in recipes, but keep in mind differences in flavor and especially texture. Danish white may work better in cooked applications like stews, pastries or omelets where feta would crumble. But for Greek salads or appetizers, feta's crumbles and zesty flavor are harder to mimic with the milder, smoother Danish cheese.
While Danish white cheese and feta may seem interchangeable at first glance, they have major differences when it comes to ingredients, texture, aging methods, and flavor.
Feta's sheep and goat milk mix along with tangy brined flavor offer an authentic Greek experience that Danish white cannot fully replace. But fans of the Danish cheese appreciate its affordability, smooth melting properties and quality in cooking.