Buying Feta in Bulk From Di Bruno Bros.

jar of feta cheese

Yesterday afternoon, while in the midst of making a giant bowl of this quinoa salad to take to a potluck, I realized that I had forgotten to buy feta cheese. In most cases I am entirely satisfied to substitute one ingredient for another, but not in that moment. I wanted the creamy tang of feta and I had nothing else in the fridge that would do.

I put my chopping aside, grabbed a pint jar and dashed down the street to Di Bruno Bros. (I recognize that I am incredibly fortunate to live a block and a half away from such a terrific gourmet/cheese market). The reason for the pint jar was that I hate the idea of using a disposable plastic tub for all of ten minutes in order to get the cheese from store to salad. They sell their feta cheese from giant, brine-filled crocks, so a container of some sort is necessary.

This was the first time I’d taken a reusable container to Di Bruno Bros. so I wasn’t sure how they’d respond. However, I swallowed my minor embarrassment at making an unusual request and asked if I could buy half a pound of feta and have it packed in my jar. They said yes and proceeded to weight the cheese on a sheet of parchment paper before putting in the jar.

I kept a plastic container out of the recycling/trash system and the sticky label peeled off easily to boot. All in all, a successful jar experience!

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20 Responses to Buying Feta in Bulk From Di Bruno Bros.

  1. 1

    I read an article in Sunset Magazine about a family that creates almost no trash, and one of the things the mom does keep trash down is that she brings reusable containers to the grocery store and fills them up with items you buy in bulk. So you are totally not the only one who brings your own jars to the store!

  2. 2
    Alejandra says:

    super clever! I’m going to think of this and try it next time I head to the store!

  3. 3
    kimberly says:

    I love it!

  4. 4
    bethany joy says:

    good for you! i’m happy you went for it. i always feel great bringing reused containers to my local co-op. you can influence others to think differently about packaging when they see what you’re doing. great job incorporating sustainability into your blog!

  5. 5
    meg says:

    Love! I keep meaning to try this. I’ve been a bad, bad, bad green girl lately. I can’t seem to get my reusable grocery bag pile into the car (of which there are plenty. the guilt causes me to keep buying more once at the store & bagless). As always, you inspired! =)

  6. 6
    Larissa says:

    Bulgarian feta is one of my favorites. Yum. But I have to go a little farther for it.

  7. 7
    Betsey says:

    Started doing this for spices from “my spice guy” at Central Market as well as olives from local gourmet store last year. Great for the earth and saves time repackaging once I get home. My friends now give me their excess jars!

  8. 8
    Lauren says:

    Oh I just love feta. It would be wonderful to have variety beyond what’s stocked at the Kroger. I love that you used a glass jar for bulk goods. Hopefully you’ll inspire loads of other people to do the same thing!

  9. 9
    lani says:

    This is awesome I am a feta head and to take a jar never occurred to me…helps with my sustainable senior idea’s …thanx

  10. 10
    Sue says:

    I’ve never tried Bulgarian feta, but… it’s a sheep’s milk feta so it has to be delicious. I won’t eat any of the commercially available fetas — they are almost always cow’s milk and way too hard and salty. I love French feta, and if I can’t find it at Whole Foods will settle for Israeli feta from Trader Joe’s. So I’m seriously “color me green with jealousy” that you have a cheese monger down the street with bulk feta! I love my local cheese shop (Venissimo Cheese) but they don’t do feta! :(

  11. 11
    Jas says:

    What a great idea! And I could have used some feta in my omelet this morning. I filled it with a smear of the tomato jam I made last night and some mozerella. I’m HOOKED! I do have a canning question though. It was much too late last night when I was processing the tomato jam, and being a newbie canner, I don’t have all the various steps burned into my brain yet, so I completely forgot about eliminating air bubbles. I didn’t realize until this morning that every single one of my jars have rather large air bubbles in them. Each jar sealed perfectly though. Am I ok, or should I pop open the jars, bring it all to a boil again and then process the cans once more, this time making sure I get those bubbles out?

    The tomato jam however.. OMG. Just WOW. I’m waiting on tomatoes to go on sale again now. I did 5 lbs of tomatoes last time. This time I’m buying 10 lbs. I will never be without this stuff again. Thank you so much for the recipe!

    • 11.1
      Marisa says:

      Since your jars sealed, don’t bother to open them up to remove the air bubbles. We bubble jars because those air pockets can get in the way of a good seal. At this point, it’s just something to remember for the future.

      I’m so glad to hear that like that tomato jam! Do know that you won’t want to double the batch all in the same pot. It will take forever to cook down like that and could potentially scorch.

      • Jas says:

        Oh, I’d be making it in 2 batches. As it is it took almost 3 hours of cooking for this batch. I simmered it on very low heat most of the time since I was in and out of the kitchen doing other things while this cooked. I’m a big fan of cooking things that contain sugar at a lower temperature for a longer time. Gives it all plenty of time for the flavors to meld and the sugars to caramelize just perfectly. I am thinking about playing with the spices the next time around though. Something with cumin sounds good. Or maybe even some of my mom’s secret tandoori masala mix (so secret even I don’t know what goes in it. She just sends me jars of it whenever I run low) for an indian twist. I may just have to make several smaller batches to try out these variations!

  12. 12
    Sarah says:

    Good gravy – do you know how often I’ve bought ricotta while simultaneously carrying a bunch of clean containers home from the office. This is genius!

  13. 13
    Jocelyn S says:

    I bring jars to the co-op to get stuff in bulk too. The only time I got looked at odd, was with the little 1/4 pint jelly jar that I brought for some nutritional yeast. (I don’t use that much) It really was a “oh how cute, I’ve never seen a jar this small,” sort of thing.

    I am wanting to get some of the half gallon jars for the stuff I buy in larger quantities.

  14. 14
    Gardenmom29 says:

    Awesome. I like the idea of taking the jars to save on packaging and to keep plastic out of the landfills. How neat to have a cheese shop so close to where you live. Must be yummy.

  15. 15
    Heather Thyne says:

    Most supermarket and deli weight/price machines have a “tare” key that zeros out the weight after you’ve put the container on. So they didn’t even need to use the deli sheet to put your feta on!

    Marisa, you’ve inspired me to hit yard sales and gather up old canning jars.

    Thanks!

  16. 16
    Yafa says:

    I used to buy Bulgarian feta, but now that I’ve moved back to rural Minnesota, the best feta locally is Mt Sterling Goat Milk Feta. Although MT Sterling is yummy, I’d love to have a cheese shop nearby that sells feta in bulk!

    As a co-op shopper for the last 30 years, I always have bags in my car and bring jars for spices, oils, dry goods, etc. I’ve had the same Soy sauce bottle refilled dozens of times, either from a gallon container at home or refilled from a 5 gallon container at the store.

  17. 17
    Sarah says:

    I wish I could use jars or other reusable containers for more things. There’s a store opening up in Austin, TX that promises to do away with all packaging materials. Maybe it will catch on? I love the idea.

    I read about the store here: http://consumerist.com/2011/06/packaging-free-grocery-store-to-open-in-texas.html

  18. 18
    magica says:

    I have no idea about burgarian feta because I am Greek but I will never pack my greek feta in a jar, it will crush!
    It’s better to have a plastic restangle container and when you buy feta ask them to give you some brine from their container also.

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