Mild, creamy cheese like havarti, gouda, or feta is marinated in extra virgin olive oil with additions like lemon peel, peppercorns, and fresh rosemary for a super simple appetizer! It also makes a great homemade food gift. As the jar sits, the flavors infuse the oil and the cubed cheese. The olive oil that remains when the cheese has been eaten can be used in salad dressings, pasta, and as a marinade.
This is one of the easiest food gifts or appetizers that wins friends: a jar of MARINATED CHEESE! It’s so simple to make, absolutely delicious, and travels well. The longer you let the cheese marinate, the more flavorful it gets, so it’s also a great make ahead option; just like my Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes preserved in olive oil.
I like to add aromatic additions to the jar like lemon peel, red pepper flakes, fresh rosemary, and peppercorns. This infuses both the cheese and the extra virgin olive oil with lovely flavor. And when you’re done eating the cheese, you have a homemade infused olive oil that you can use on pasta, in salad dressings, or as a dipping oil for bread!
Bring a jar to a holiday gathering with a bundle of toothpicks and you’ve got the star appetizer. I love doing something similar with these gin marinated olives. You could also tuck the jar of marinated cheese in a sourdough bread gift basket!
How to Make Marinated Cheese in 3 Easy Steps:
Grab a clean, wide mouthed (makes it easy to pack and also eat from) glass jar that has a lid. This jar is the one I like, which also looks beautiful for gifting.
Loosely pack your jar with cubed cheese and aromatics. There’ll still be plenty of space in there for adding aromatics. Lemon peel, fresh thyme, dried chiles, olives.
Pour high quality extra virgin olive oil over into the jar and fully submerge cheese and aromatics. Tighten the lid on jar and refrigerate for up to two weeks.
Best Cheeses for Marinating:
Soft(er), mild cheeses that are somewhat porous are best for marinating. These include a creamy gouda, havarti, feta, and even a mild white cheddar. These cheeses are able to absorb the flavor of the olive oil and the infusions you add, and do not compete with each other. Instead they work together to make some of the most delicious bites.
How Long Can You Store Marinated Cheese:
Olive oil can be a great way to preserve cheese. The oil serves as a barrier against bacteria and other microorganisms. But when fresh herbs or accompaniments are added to flavor the oil, that will decrease the shelf life, as fresh produce contains water, which allows bacteria to live and grow. That means you should be sure to store your marinated cheese in the refrigerator and eat within two weeks.
Mild, creamy cheese is marinated in extra virgin olive oil with additions like lemon peel, peppercorns, and fresh rosemary for a super simple appetizer! As the jar sits, the flavors infuse the oil and the cubed cheese. Marinated cheese in a jar makes a great food gift, too.
Pack half of aromatics into bottom of clean, sterilized 16 ounce wide-mouthed glass jar.
Pack half of cheese loosely on top of that. Then add remaining aromatics.
Add remaining cheese to fill jar. Pour olive oil over the top, taking care to fully cover all of the cheese and additions, to avoid any oxygen getting to the ingredients (which would increase chance of spoiling early).
Tightly close jar with cover and turn jar upside down and over a few times. Then leave it on the counter for 3-4 hours to infuse and refrigerate overnight before eating, up to 2 weeks. The olive oil will likely solidify in the refrigerator, so set out an hour or so before serving at room temperature.
And don't toss the extra oil once you're done with the cheese, it's delicious! Toss it with pasta, use it to marinate vegetables, or whisk it into a salad dressing.