Sunday, June 18, 2017

What Kind Of Mold Is Involved In Cheese Making?

Depending on the type of cheese that you eat, there will be some mold in it that you don’t need to worry about. While moldy cheese that has been sitting in your fridge for months should probably be tossed, certain types of cheese are actually designed to have mold. Mold will only be involved in cheese making particular cheese varieties and the kind used depends on the cheese in question.
Blue Molds
The most popular kind of cheese that is made with mold is blue cheese. There are two types of blue mold that you will find in blue cheese, regardless of the variety. These are P. glacucum and P. roqueforti. Each of these molds provides the unique texture and flavor you love of blue cheese. The molds can grow in environments with very low oxygen levels, which is why they are so great at ripening cheese; they can do so in the small cracks. To encourage this process, many cheesemakers who are aging blue cheese will actually pierce channels into the cheese and then place the mold inside so they grow. You can find mold in common blue cheeses like Cabrales, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton. While blue cheese is the most likely to have blue molds, you can also find them on some goat cheeses.
White Molds
Although most people think of blue molds when they picture the mold used in cheese making, there are also white molds. These will be found along the outside of nearly every soft-ripened cheese. These white molds are P. camembertii, which is also known as P. candidum and its subspecies. White mold in cheese works by producing enzymes which break down milk proteins from curds. This in turn causes that ripened layer that is surrounded by a firm interior. Cheese with white mold will typically produce an earthy or garlicky flavor. The only thing to remember with cheese featuring white mold is that ammonia is a by-product of the enzymatic process. Because of this, you need to let the cheese breathe or sit uncovered so the ammonia can dissipate.
Is The Mold Dangerous?
Since mold is actually used in cheese making, it should be obvious that it does not pose a health threat. This is particularly true of the cheeses that have intentional mold growth. There are also some cheeses that will simply grow mold on their surface. While a very small number can be harmful, the vast majority of these unintentional molds are not. Instead, they actually enhance the flavor of the cheese.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

What Is A Cheese Cave?

When you start learning more about cheese, you will quickly come across the concept of a cheese cave. Cheese caves are essentially the place that you store cheese while it undergoes its aging process, no matter how long it is. They are an alternative to a regular refrigerator and actually work better than those. In fact, cheese caves are the traditional location for aging cheese.
Not Always A Cave
The term cheese cave comes from the fact that historically, cheese was placed in a cave to age. Caves have the ideal conditions for this process thanks to their steady, high levels of humidity and cool temperature. You simply won’t get the same results for your cheese if the humidity or temperature is off. Cheese caves have been used for centuries in countries where cheese is regularly consumed. Today, many modern cheese caves are not caves at all. Instead, they are rooms that have been set up in a way that mimics the humidity, temperature, and other conditions of caves. Thanks to modern technology, this is a very real possibility that allows you to age cheese anywhere, regardless of whether or not a cave is actually present.
Making A Cheese Cave
Since you can create a cheese cave anywhere, you can actually make one right in your home provided that you have enough space. Companies that produce and age their own cheese will have at least one manmade cheese cave somewhere on their property and you can copy their techniques on a much smaller scale. There are a few key requirements when creating your cheese cave. Make sure that the temperature is as constant as you can make it, somewhere between 45 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit. You also need the moisture level to be at the proper level for the cheese you are aging, typically around 80 to 90 percent. Finally, the cheese cave needs to have fresh air so you don’t get any unwanted products from aging.
Using An Old Fridge
It is possible to age cheese in your current fridge, but you will have to make some adjustments and use a wet paper towel to get the proper humidity. Ideally, you will turn an old fridge into a cheese cave. You can invest in a simple controller to keep the temperature within the correct range and put a pan of water inside the fridge with a partial cover to keep the humidity at the proper level. You will need to keep an eye on the moisture level since it will vary with the seasons. Because of the effort involved in making a cheese cave, many people prefer to just buy their cheese already aged.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

How Are Asiago And Parmesan Cheeses Different?

While some cheeses are clearly different from each other, others look very similar and can be nearly impossible to tell apart. Others will taste very similar with differences that only well-trained taste buds will notice. Asiago and Parmesan are two cheeses that look very similar, also resembling Romano. These are also all Italian cheeses, meaning that they have some elements of shared history.
Asiago
Asiago is a type of cheese made from cow’s milk and it comes from the northeastern area of Italy. Most cheese experts consider it an Alpine or mountain cheese. Depending on the aging process, Asiago can vary greatly in terms of flavor. When it is fresh, the cheese is known as Asiago Pressato and is mild flavored and semi-soft. When aged, it is called Asiago D’Allevo and as it is aged longer, it becomes sharper, dryer, and firmer. There tend to be three categories of aging for Asiago cheese where it is aged two months, three months, or a minimum of nine months. Regardless of aging, Asiago tends to be nutty and sweet. Younger Asiago is delicious by itself while aged Asiago has more intense flavors that make it great when grated on salad, pasta, or risotto.
Parmesan
The cheese you typically refer to as Parmesan is typically actually Parmigiano Reggiano. While not all Parmesan will be Parmigiano Reggiano, all Parmesan Reggiano is a type of Parmesan. This is also a cheese made from cow’s milk but instead of being from Northeastern Italy, it is from Northern Italy, specifically the Reggio Emilia or Parma regions. Parmigiano Reggiano has a nutty, rich flavor and a flaky texture that separates it from Asiago. It has always been aged between one to two years. It works well on a variety of dishes, including many of those that Asiago enhances, such as risotto and pasta.
Within the regions it is produced in, Parmesan has very strict regulations that ensure it is made following tradition, including the milk being heated in copper kettles and cheesemakers needing at least ten years of apprenticeships. Within the entire European Union, you can’t legally call cheese Parmesan if it isn’t Parmigiano Reggiano. You can use the term Parmesan for other cheeses in countries outside the European Union, so don’t expect the traditional cheese all the time in the United States.
Whether you are interested in Asiago or Parmesan, you should try your best to get an authentic version for the richest flavors. Although the United States doesn’t have as strict of requirements, you can still find imported cheeses or at least those that have been stamped to indicate they meet some standard.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

What Unusual Traditions Involve Cheese?

Cheese is such a popular food in many areas of the world that it should come as no surprise that there are numerous traditions related to it. Some will involve eating cheese in ways that seem odd to Americans while others use the cheese in a different way entirely. Here are some of the unusual traditions involving cheese.
Cheese Rolling In England
Perhaps the most famous unusual cheese-related tradition is cheese rolling in Gloucestershire, England. This is a bank holiday that occurs in late spring and is an interesting take on racing. The race involves following a rolling round of cheese, specifically Double Gloucester, down a hill. The first person to cross the finish line wins. Tradition dictates that after this, the winner runs back up Cooper’s Hill, where this takes place. While this tradition may seem tame, injuries do occur, including concussions and broken bones. This tradition likely has its roots in Pagan traditions that celebrated rebirth following winter. Interestingly enough, it was officially banned because of health and safety concerns in 2010, but it still continues unofficially every year.
Cacio al Fuso In Italy
The British aren’t the only people to use cheese in unusual ways in their traditions. Cacio al Fuso is a game that is very similar to lawn bowls but uses an actual wheel of cheese as the ball. This game is played in Pienza, a Tuscan hilltop town known for its pecorino cheese. The game takes place in the Piazza Pio II, the central plaza in the town. During the game, you roll the cheese wheel towards the central wooden peg in the middle of a marble ring in the pavement. Keep in mind that you have to roll it from a designated rug at a certain distance, similar to how you release a bowling ball away from the pins. Outside of this ring, there are additional rings marked with chalk. You get points based on how close to the center ring you get. Amazingly enough, the marble ring used in the game was made around 500 years ago.
Traditions With Eating Cheese
In addition to unusual traditions that use cheese in interesting ways, some simply involve cheese choices that are unusual to some. There is a Sardinian traditional cheese made using sheep’s milk, for example, named Casu Marzu. This cheese is fermented until it starts to decompose and maggots form in it. Italy has outlawed it because of the danger associated with it, but you may find it on the black market for a high price. For a tradition you may be willing to try, go north to Canada and try poutine. The idea of putting cheese curds and gravy on fries is odd to many Americans, but this is an incredibly popular food in Canada.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

What Makes Processed Cheese Unhealthy?

When most people think of cheese, they picture a healthy food that is versatile and can be eaten at any meal or as a snack. While natural cheese is healthy thanks to its dairy content, processed cheese is actually unhealthy. If your goal is to eat a well-balanced diet or to lose weight, natural cheese should be part of your life, but processed cheese should not.
Contains Chemicals And Additives
If you were to guess how much actual cheese there is in processed cheese, you will likely be surprised by the answer. U.S. food regulations say that processed cheese only has 51 percent natural cheese by weight. To make up the rest of this, there are plenty of additives you don’t necessarily need. Processed cheese has more salt, whey, and food coloring than natural unprocessed cheese. It also contains emulsifiers that keep the water and oil bound together.
Some Common Processed Cheese Ingredients
Although the ingredients in processed cheese can vary, many contain the following. Sodium phosphate is an artificial ingredient and emulsifier. In some cases, it has been linked to kidney-related health problems. Instead of starting with actual cheese, many processed cheeses will also contain milk protein concentrate, a dairy substitute that helps them keep production costs low. Of course, there are also food colorings like yellow tartrazine and yellow 6 in certain processed cheese. Both of those coloring additives have actually been banned in some parts of Europe due to the risk of tumors in the kidneys and adrenal glands.
In the case of spray-able processed cheese and certain spreadable ones, they also contain trisodium phosphate. This is a scary ingredient as it is a variation of a common emulsifier compound in stain-removers and cleansers.
Saturated Fat
Unfortunately, all cheese has saturated fat which is why you are supposed to eat it in moderation. Even so, processed cheese tends to have more saturated fats than unprocessed cheese. For example, a single slice will have 21 percent of your daily recommended limit for saturated fatty acids. Considering you are likely to have more than one slice and pair it with other saturated fats, this is a big concern. That is particularly true since the processed cheese won’t even provide you with nutritional benefits. Since it is only 51 percent actual cheese, you aren’t getting as much calcium, protein, or other nutrients as you would from unprocessed cheese. In other words, while unprocessed, natural cheese can be healthy as long as you don’t binge, processed cheese only hurts your health. 

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