Tuesday, August 19, 2014

5 Key Tips For Throwing An Excellent Cheese Tasting Party

There are a huge selection of amazing cheeses out there to try. Why not try with them with friends at a wonderful cheese tasting party? This is a great way to have a refined and fun get together, while experiencing many flavors that you may otherwise have never experienced. But what makes a good cheese tasting party? Here are five key tips to get you started.

Pairings:

Cheese tasting does not have to be just about cheese. One of the fantastic things about cheeses, is that they go well with so many different beverages and dishes. Consider some pairings to the cheeses you wish to try. Wines and beers are a great choice, but crackers and other appetizers are also worth considering also, as they are common cheese pairings. Even other beverages, like juices, can play a key role here.

What Cheeses:

Know the cheeses that you are going to choose to taste, and what their general flavors are. Not everyone will like each kind of cheese, so throwing out a warning before a new sample as to what it is likely to taste like can be very beneficial. Even if you have not tried it, knowing that it is a nuttier or dryer flavored cheese can go a long way.

Arrangements:

Take time to consider table and food arrangement. Simple things like this can make a cheese tasting party seem much more classy. Use platters and other decorative serving items when possible, this can be a good opportunity to crack out the dinnerware that you have been dying to show off. Again, the little things make a cheese party classy and fun.

Company:

Some people are not suited to a cheese tasting party. These may be friends that like to cause a ruckus, which may be fun in another setting, but makes enjoying a gathering like this fairly difficult. These types of guests make it more difficult for those who are really interested in the flavors of the cheeses to really enjoy themselves.

Theme:

Choosing a theme to base the cheeses you are tasting off from can make it much easier to narrow down the huge selection of fine cheese available. Sharp cheeses, dry cheeses, and fine cheeses make good themes, or you can choose regional cheeses if that seems like more fun. By picking a direction and theme, you can also help decide what future cheese tasting parties can be.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Keys To Telling If Cheese Has Gone Bad

Cheese is one of the food items that almost everyone has in their home but because it is a dairy product, it can sometimes start to go bad quicker than other items in your refrigerator. If you don’t want to end up wasting your money by throwing out unused cheese, it is important to know how to tell if your cheese has gone bad. Most of the time, natural instinct can help you with this but sometimes it is necessary to have a bit of knowledge as well. Here are some keys that will let you know whether your cheese is still okay to eat.

Smell

When you first buy a new cheese, you should unwrap it and take a sniff. This is true whether or not you plan on eating it in the near future. It also gives you the opportunity to rewrap the cheese properly (such as in cheese paper) before you put it away. Although it may seem silly, this initial sniff is important because you can use it as a basis for comparison later on if you aren’t sure if your cheese is still edible. All you have to do is unwrap your cheese and smell it; if it smells more or less the same as it originally did, it is fine to eat. Remember that some cheeses (such as cheddar) will smell slightly different as they age but still be fine.

Taste

If the cheese passes the smell test but you still aren’t sure whether or not it is good, you can take a little taste. Some people are afraid to do this but as long as the cheese smells find and you have a very small taste, you will be okay even if the cheese is no longer good. As with smells, remember that the taste of cheese will change slightly over time but a completely different taste means you should throw it out.

Know The General Shelf Life

Apart from smelling and tasting the cheese to see whether it is still good, you should also know the approximate shelf life of the various cheeses you tend to buy. Aged cheeses tend to have low moisture content and that means that they usually age very well. This means that your aged cheddar or Gouda should be fine. You can even scrape off any mold that you find. If you have a fresh cheese such as fresh mozzarella, you should try to eat them sooner rather than later. The ideal shelf life for these cheeses is 7 to 10 days but once again use your senses to judge.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How To Pair Cheddar Cheese With Dessert

When most people think of cheese, they don’t necessarily consider having it with dessert. Most people traditionally choose to have their cheese for a snack or with breakfast, lunch or dinner but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use cheddar in some sweet combinations. When pairing cheddar cheese with dessert, you have two main options: you can add it on to your dessert after it is already made or include it in your favorite dessert recipe. Most people would be surprised at how many desserts can taste even better with the simple addition of cheddar.

Apple Pie

The classic option is to make your favorite apple pie recipe and add a slice of cheddar on top. If you want your cheddar to be gooey and melted, then you can try one of the many delicious recipes for apple pie that involve using it. Some will add it to the filling while others will have you mix it in with the crust. One of the most popular options is to roll the cheddar into the edge of the pie crust when making it from scratch. Although any type of cheddar is a popular addition to apple pie, sharp cheddar is the most common.

Cheese Cake

When most people think of cheese cake they picture the creamy classic made with cream cheese but that is not the only option available. Another great idea is to try making your cake with cheddar instead. Of course this won’t be a traditional cheese cake; instead it will be more of the traditional style cake but with cheese instead of chocolate or some other type of flavoring. Once you try this combination you will realize that cheddar can work perfectly to create a dessert.

Cupcakes

Making cheddar cupcakes is very similar to making a cheddar cake and while you could just follow the same recipe and put the dish into cupcake tins instead of a cake pan, you can also use the opportunity to get creative. If you really want to make a dessert that is both sweet and savory and brings out the flavor of the cheddar, try adding a bit of chopped up bacon as well.

Cookies

Cheese connoisseurs know exactly how to combine the right cheese with the perfect wine or beer and you can even get these combinations in your dessert. You can find some great recipes that combine beer, cheddar cheese and some finely chopped apples. You get to choose the beer and cheddar so make sure you select a combination that works together.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

4 Ways To Save Money Buying Fresh Cheese

Most people who love cheese know that the cost can add up depending on how much you buy and what types you get. This is especially true when it comes to fresh or gourmet cheese (which are frequently the same thing). The good news is that just because you want to save a bit of money doesn’t mean you have to stop buying fresh cheese. Instead, you can try one of the following tips that will help you save money and stick to your budget.

Avoid Shredded Options

If you are buying fresh cheese, chances are you won’t find too many options that are shredded and that is a good thing. Most of the time shredded cheese will cost a lot more than the equivalent amount in terms of weight. If you take the time to shred your cheddar or slice your Muenster yourself, you can save a great deal of money. Just remember that you pay for the convenience but in reality it only saves you a minute of your time.

Buy Larger Quantities

When buying fresh cheese, a lot of people are hesitant about buying large quantities because they are worried it will go bad. While this is true of some cheeses, others such as fresh mozzarella can be frozen and thawed out when you want to use them without any harmful effects on the cheese. Even better is the fact that when you buy in larger quantities, most cheeses are cheaper and that is especially true when you buy gourmet cheese.

Opt For Stronger Options

If cheddar cheese is your weakness, try purchasing sharper cheddar instead of your normal mild one. This doesn't mean you have to go overboard and buy one that has been aged for 7 years, but at least consider an option that is one step sharper than your norm. You will find yourself using less in meals as the flavor is stronger. This can save you money with cheddar as well as other types of fresh cheese.

Use Specialty Retailers

Most people have the mental image that specialty cheese retailers will charge a lot more money for cheese when compared to your grocery store. The fact is that these retailers provide better quality cheese and in most cases if you wanted to buy the same quality in your local store, you would end up paying much more than from a specialty cheese seller. You will also find a wider selection of specialty and fresh cheeses so you can find exactly what you want without having to settle.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5 Tips For Serving Gourmet Cheese

Whether you are having a cheese party or simply want to serve a gourmet cheese course as part of your dinner party, it is important to know the best way to serve the cheeses. Correct preparation, plating and pairings can make the difference between a successful cheese tasting and one that doesn’t go quite as well.

Selecting The Cheeses

The first thing to do any time you are serving gourmet cheese is actually making the selections. The ideal is to give your guests a variety of tastes and textures to try and this means that you should go with cheeses that are slightly different from each other in this respect. You could try offering the creamy texture of fresh mozzarella, the harder texture of some well-aged cheddar and maybe add something your guests probably haven’t had before such as cheese curds. Ideally you want between three and five cheeses.

Cheese Temperature

Although you store your cheese in the refrigerator you never want to serve it cold, especially if it is gourmet cheese. The best thing to do is to remove them from your fridge around an hour before you plan on serving them. When the cheese reaches room temperature you and your guests will be better able to enjoy its flavor.

Save Bold Flavors

It is always tempting when serving gourmet cheeses to offer one with a bolder flavor such as Jurassic cheddar that has been aged for seven years or a strong Swiss. That is completely fine but the important thing to remember is to always serve the boldest cheese last. If you serve it too soon, your guests will still have the taste in their mouths and not be able to fully appreciate the other gourmet cheeses you have on offer.

Cutting

Not everyone has a large supply of cheese knives but if you plan on serving multiple types of gourmet cheese, it is time to make an investment. That is because you never want to cut different cheeses using the same knife as it can transfer the flavors, causing them to mix.

Wines

The classic beverage to serve with your gourmet cheese is wine but it is important to make your wine selecting correctly. Your wine should complement the cheese and also help cleanse the palette between different types. That means that the wine shouldn’t overpower the cheese and vice versa. If you aren’t sure how to pair your wine and cheese, look online or ask an expert for advice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tips To Help You With Your Wine And Cheese Party

One of the classic parties that people occasionally throw is a wine and cheese party. These parties are designed with the goal of allowing guests to sample various types of cheeses and wine. Most of the time the host will have multiple different types of cheese and wine divided into smaller quantities so guests can try different ones without getting full but choosing which ones to use can be difficult as well as planning the other arrangements. Here are some tips that can help.

Pairings

The first thing you need to think about when planning a wine and cheese party is which wines and cheeses to serve. When trying to create pairings there are two general rules that you should follow. The first is to try to pair cheeses with wines that are from the same region of the world. The second rule is that if a cheese is acidic, you should try putting it with a wine that is acidic as well. Some specific combinations that work well are cheddar with champagne or cabernet, provolone with chardonnay and Gouda with Riesling.

Other Foods

If you are planning a wine and cheese party, it is not enough just to purchase the wine and the cheese. One of the most important things to purchase is a variety of crackers so guests don’t have to eat the cheese alone. Ideally you should opt for crackers or breads with simple flavors so that the main focus is the cheese and wine. You should also offer other small finger foods such as a vegetable tray.

Decorations

When it comes to decorating your wine and cheese party, it depends mostly on your personal preferences. You can make it elaborate if you want but even simply draping the tables with plain tablecloths is enough. The most important thing to remember, however, is to label each of the cheeses and wines. For each item, you should list what it is, where it is from, its ideal pairing and any other distinguishing characteristics such as its history.

Dishes

When planning your party, you need to make sure not to forget plates and glasses for the cheese and wine. While the plates aren’t quite as important, you have to decide whether you want guests to reuse the same wine glass for different tastes or you want to offer smaller glasses. If you want everything to be perfect, you should also make sure to have round glasses for red wine and narrower ones for white wine.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Should You Stretch Your Own Mozzarella?

Just a few years ago, no one would have ever considered making their own mozzarella cheese, but now it is becoming more and more popular as more people have learned how and realized how simple it is. The reality is that once you learn how to stretch your own mozzarella using stretching curd, you will realize the process is easy and straightforward. There are still, however, some things that most people consider before deciding whether or not to give it a try.

Freshness

One of the biggest reasons that people choose to stretch their own mozzarella is that it allows them the freedom to eat fresh mozzarella cheese whenever they want to. The process is incredibly simple and if you have all of the supplies at hand, you just need to plan a bit ahead of time and then can easily add a bit of fresh mozzarella to your favorite meal, whether it will be the center of attention such as on a pizza or merely a complement such as on a salad.

Time

One thing to keep in mind is that although the process of stretching your own mozzarella is incredibly quick and easy, it does still take more time than simply taking a bit of mozzarella cheese out of your fridge. This means that if you are always in a hurry, it may be better to simply purchase your favorite mozzarella. If you are short on time but still want to make your own, the good news is that you can freeze your fresh mozzarella for six months after you make it.

Convenience

Some people like to be able to have fresh mozzarella on hand nearly right away and if you are one of these people, then buying some mozzarella stretching curd is probably the best option. If you have the curd, you can just make the cheese without having to leave your home or wait for the cheese you ordered online to arrive. That means that you can simply decide you want mozzarella and have some fresh cheese less than an hour later.

Buying Supplies

One common concern that people have when it comes to making their own mozzarella is whether it will be cost effective. The reality is that you don’t need too many supplies to make it; you really just need a large stainless steel mixing bowl, a wooden spoon and fresh mozzarella stretching curd. Many cheese retailers will even sell all of these items together to make it easier for beginners and then also sell the stretching curd separately for future cheese making.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Is It Safe To Eat The Rind On Cheddar Cheese?

If you are unfamiliar with a type of cheese, then it can be confusing whether or not you can eat the rind. While the safest option is never to eat the rind unless you are positive that you can, most of the time it will be safe to eat the rind on cheddar cheese unless otherwise noted.  When browsing the cheese options, you will notice that not all cheddars have a rind and it tends to be the sharper cheddars that do have them simply because they have aged longer. Here is what you need to know about eating the rind on cheddar cheese as well as other types.

What Is The Rind?

The first thing you need to know is what the rind is. It is the outer layer of the cheese that sometimes forms during the process of making and aging cheese. Because they are usually completely natural, they are frequently edible, but sometimes the flavor or texture will be undesirable. It is important not to confuse a cheese’s rind with its secondary coating. Some types of hard cheese, such as Gouda will occasionally have an additional coating made of wax, paraffin or something similar. You should never eat this coating although an actual rind should be safe.

Natural Rinds

The rind that you find on cheddar cheese is usually referred to as a natural rind because it forms naturally. To get rinds on some other types of cheeses, the manufacturers will add a certain strain of bacteria or some other edible substance but this is rare for cheddar cheese. In the case of the cheddar, the rind simply forms over time as the outer area of the cheese begins to dry out from the air. Because it is completely natural, there is no risk in eating the rind from cheddar cheese. You should still always double check that it is a rind and not a secondary coating. The only time you should be hesitant about eating the rind is if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system in which case it is safer to cut it off.

Other Rinds

On some types of cheeses a rind is desirable but would not necessarily begin to grow naturally. Therefore cheese makers will add edible mold or bacteria spores to the cheese during the aging process. The humidity then causes these to grow and create the rind. A bloomy rind is the type you find on brie and is made using edible mold spores but still usually edible. If you are looking at a stinky cheese, chances are that it has a washed rind which means it was covered in alcohol or brine to attract edible molds which then formed the rind.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

What Cheeses Are Good On Pizza?

Pizza is a classic dish that is popular all over the world, especially in Italy and the United States. Although it is traditionally made using mozzarella cheese, that is not the only option available. Here are some of the many cheeses you should consider using the next time you make a pizza.

Mozzarella

As mentioned, the classic cheese for a pizza is mozzarella as that is how Italians first made the dish. Mozzarella is ideal because it melts very well and provides the taste that most people are used to. When it comes to mozzarella, you have plenty of choices including fresh and mozzarellas with reduced fat. You can even get some stretching curd and make your own to put on your pizza while the dough rises.

Provolone

Although not the typical choice, provolone is another great idea for pizza because like mozzarella it melts well. This cheese is creamy and comes in either plain or smoked varieties depending on your preferences. If you want, you can also try mixing provolone and mozzarella for a delicious combination.

Parmesan

Because parmesan is an Italian cheese, it comes as no surprise that it goes well on pizza as well. Most people think of simply grating a bit of parmesan on top of their normal mozzarella pizza, but you can even use more than this if you want. For an added boost, try mixing the parmesan with Romano for extra flavor.


Although cheddar is one of the cheeses most people think of for a traditional pizza, it is a good way to let your creativity flow. If you choose to use cheddar, you should keep two important things in mind. Remember that the pizza will taste very different, especially if you opt for a sharper cheddar. You should also keep in mind that cheddar isn’t the best at melting, so it is probably ideal to mix it with mozzarella.

Swiss

Most people who try Swiss cheese on pizza feel that the flavor is too strong as it is very flavorful and salty but when you use it as part of a mixture, it can be a unique and refreshing combination. Try to limit the amount of Swiss cheese you use in your mix, but at least give it a try.

Others

Your options are truly limitless when it comes to cheese for pizza. Many people like to add a bit of feta, goat’s cheese or blue cheese to their pizzas, although these are usually sprinkled on instead of the main cheese. You can also try mixing in a bit of Muenster cheese for a different flavor.

Monday, April 21, 2014

What Can You Make With Fresh Mozzarella Cheese?

When it comes to cheese, fresh mozzarella is one of the most delicious and simplest options. Whether you buy the mozzarella from your cheese retailer or make it yourself using stretching curd, you want to use it soon to take full advantage of its flavor and freshness (although you can usually freeze it for some time). If you don’t want to savor the mozzarella by itself, here are some things to cook with it.

Pizza

The classic food that most people think of when it comes to mozzarella is pizza and if you enjoy making pizza already, you will notice a huge improvement in flavor if you simply swap out your current cheese for some fresh mozzarella. This is the traditional Italian way to make pizza and there is a reason that it is with fresh mozzarella.

Pasta

The reason that fresh mozzarella works so well on pizza is because it melts cleanly due to its stringy texture. This means that it is also a great option to spread over pastas or even to make into lasagna. Whether you want to add just a bit of mozzarella flavor to your favorite pasta dish or get creative and make macaroni and cheese with your mozzarella, the freshness will add a great deal of flavor.

Salads

If you don’t want to take advantage of mozzarella’s excellent melting properties, then you can also try adding small pieces of it to a fresh salad. The ideal combination to bring out its flavor is the traditional Caprese salad that in addition to the fresh mozzarella, also has tomato, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper and of course the lettuce.

Breaded

Another option is to use your mozzarella to make a breaded appetizer. You can deep fry it to make mozzarella sticks with additional flavor and freshness or if you want to stick the Italian theme, you can only lightly bread it. Then try adding a bit of mixed greens and prosciutto to complete the Italian appetizer.

Marinated

Sometimes when you buy fresh mozzarella, it will come marinated as this adds additional flavor and preserves the freshness. If you just have the mozzarella and want to marinate it yourself, this is easy to do. All you need to do is take 1 ¼ cups of olive oil and add two cloves of garlic and some of your favorite fresh herbs (the classic options are rosemary and thyme). Add your fresh mozzarella and place it in the fridge; this dish should last for two weeks or so.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cheese Can Make A Great Present

If someone you care about has a birthday or other special event coming up and you don’t want to give them the same gift as someone else, you should consider getting them cheese. Some cheeses may come in special displays or even if they don’t, it doesn’t take much effort to find a cute basket and arrange the various cheeses in a beautiful display. If you are thinking of giving cheese as a gift, there isn’t really a wrong type to choose, although some ideas can be more creative than others. The important thing to remember is to give a variety of options of the highest quality; here are some of the best ideas.

Cheese Curds

Depending on where you live, it is a strong possibility that the gift recipient hasn’t tried cheese curds before and a present can be the perfect occasion to fix this. The one thing you need to remember if you plan on giving cheese curds, however, is that they are best when fresh so you need to give the present as soon as you get them (or at least within a day). Some specialty retailers will even have samplers that contain different flavors of cheese curds so your friend or family member can try a variety of flavors such as garlic and dill, buffalo wing cheddar or the classic cheddar cheese curds.

Cheddar 

If you won’t be able to give your friend or family member the present right away, then cheddar may be a better gift option. What is great about cheddar is that there are plenty of varieties available mostly varying in terms of sharpness, which is determined by age. If you choose to make your cheddar gift of the highest quality by purchasing the cheese from a quality retailer, you can include a variety of ages ranging from three to six months (mild cheddar) to 2 to 3 years (extra sharp) and even 5 to 6 years (special reserve super sharp).

Italian Cheeses

Another great choice if the gift recipient loves cheeses but also loves Italy would be a platter that samples the various cheeses of Italy such as the ever popular mozzarella, parmesan and provolone. All of these cheeses are Italian classics that can be eaten alone or added to a meal to make it great. Some Italian cheese platters will also include other items such as Italian pepperoni or similar items to continue the delicious Italian theme.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How To Pair Wine And Cheese Curds

If you are planning on hosting a wine and cheese party in the near future or simply enjoy relaxing with a bit of each item at the end of the day, then you probably know that one of the toughest tasks is matching a new cheese with the right wine. While most people stick to the traditional options when eating cheese with wine that is not the only option. If you don’t want to have to worry about cutting up the cheese, then cheese curds are an excellent option as they are already bite size; you just need to know which wine to choose.

What Are Cheese Curds?

Before you can start thinking about pairing your cheese curds with wine, you need to understand exactly what cheese curds are. They are common in Wisconsin, certain parts of New York and Quebec but other than those places they can be incredibly hard to find. What makes cheese curds unique is that they are only the curd of the cheese, which means the milk solid. Cheese curds are usually made of cheddar and will taste very similar but they are unique in that they squeak and are sometimes saltier than cheddar. The most popular ways to serve them are raw, deep fried or in poutine (a Quebecois food with fries, gravy and cheese curds).

Ideal Pairing

When pairing cheese curds with wine you need to pay attention to the same things you would with any other type of cheese including flavor and texture. If you are eating plain cheese curds, you will notice that they are creamy, savory, rich and salty. Because of this flavor combination, they tend to go well with a white chardonnay. That is because the flavors of the chardonnay: with purified sugars and citrus in a refreshing combination, can truly complement it combining salty and sweet.

Pair It Like Cheddar

If you don’t like chardonnay or simply want other options to pair with your cheese curds, then you can pair the curds just like you would any cheddar cheese. One great option is to try a dry and strong cider or a strong ale; in fact, this is a classic pairing for cheese curds in Wisconsin, both raw and deep fried. You could also look for a Chilean cabernet sauvignon as they tend to be fruity, combing salty and sweet like with the chardonnay. You could also give an apple flavored liqueur a try, although those tend to work best with cheddars that are sharper than cheese curds.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How To Pair Cheese And Beer

When it comes to cheese, one of the classic combinations is to find a cheese that you really enjoy and then search for a wine that brings out its flavor. This is great for snacking by yourself, having a romantic night with your loved one or even hosting a wine and cheese party. The problem for some people, however, is that wine can sometimes be expensive and that is why pairing nice cheeses with beer is becoming more and more common. Here are some things to keep in mind when making your pairings.

General Rules

As with pairing wine and cheese, there are some general guidelines to help you find the perfect combination of cheese and beer. If the cheese is mild, you should generally choose a mild beer and the same is true of any intensity so intense cheeses go well with intense beers as well. When analyzing your beer, consider how carbonated it is, what flavors have been added, how sweet the malt is and how bitter the hops are. You should consider the normal factors related to the cheese such as intensity, age and firmness.

Mild Cheddar 

Cheddar cheese is one of the best options when it comes to pairing cheese and beer because it is a classic combination and cheddar comes in so many different varieties. If you have a nice mild cheddar on hand, you should try pairing it with a brown ale as opposed to another beer. That is because the cheese will be nutty and have a sweet caramel flavor which goes well with the dark fruit and malt that you get in a nut brown ale.

Aged Swiss

Swiss cheese is another popular cheese that is widely available and although it is not available in as many varieties as cheddar, aged Swiss is still a classic option. Because aged Swiss tends to be dense and tangy, you should try pairing it with a Bock as these are strong, smooth and mellow. This will help balance out the intensity of the cheese.

Aged Gouda

Some people find it daunting to choose the right beer for an aged Gouda but their crunchy and butterscotch flavor actually helps them balance out a stout beer. That is because stouts can usually seem intense and tricky because of the black coffee flavor combined with deep-roasted caramel flavor. When paired with an aged Gouda, however, the flavor of a stout seems perfectly balanced.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Can You Make Mozzarella At Home?

Some people who really love cheese want to be able to have fresh mozzarella whenever they choose but this is a problem if you don’t want to have to go to the store or wait for your cheese to arrive in the mail. That is why many people are starting to learn how to make mozzarella using mozzarella stretching curd. Although it sounds as if it should be a complicated process, it is actually fairly simple. If you have the right supplies you can make the cheese fairly quickly and don’t need much room either, so even if you have a small apartment you have this option.

Supplies

If you want to make mozzarella at home, the best way to do so is to buy some mozzarella stretching curd, which you can get from most reputable cheese retailers. This curd is the main ingredient in the process and makes it incredibly easy. Other than that, you just need a large stainless steel bowl, a knife or spoon, water and ice. It can also help to have a thermometer on hand and you may want to wear gloves as the process can sometimes be a bit messier than some people like.

Stretching The Mozzarella

Once you have all of your supplies, you can start the process of actually stretching your mozzarella which is what it is called when you make fresh mozzarella out of stretching curd. To start, place your mozzarella stretching curd in your large mixing bowl and then use a knife of spoon to break it up into smaller pieces. Take some water and heat it up so it’s about 140 or 150 degrees Fahrenheit and add this to your curd (this is where the thermometer may be helpful).

Leave the stretching curd in the hot water for a few minutes so it softens enough to start reforming into a clump. At this point you should use your knife or spoon to help the curd clump back together. Once the water has cooled down a bit and the curd is in one piece, you are ready to stretch your mozzarella. If you want to protect your hands from the heat, put on a pair of rubber gloves first. Then gently pull the stretching curd apart and then let its own weight pull it back downward. You should keep doing this until your cheese develops a smooth surface and then put the mozzarella in ice water for five or ten minutes to cool. You can either eat your fresh mozzarella right away or store it for later.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How Can You Use All Of Your Senses When Tasting Cheese?

If you are new to the world of cheese, then it may seem like a daunting task at first to know what to look for when you are tasting a new kind. Whether you simply want to evaluate the new cheeses you try or host a cheese tasting party, it is important to use (almost) all of your senses in your evaluation.

Sight

The very first sense you should use when looking at a cheese is the sense of sight. Look at the color, specifically that of the rind to see if it is uniform. Pay attention to whether the surface is smooth or cracked and you should do this for the rind as well as the cheese itself. Some types of cheese, such as aged cheddar, will sometimes develop crystals so look for these as well.

Touch

Next you will use your sense of touch to evaluate the cheese. Try to see if the cheese is smooth or rough and then pay attention to the amount of moisture it has. Some cheeses will be very dry while others are very moist, such as fresh mozzarella. Next you should think about how elastic and spreadable the cheese is. After you take a taste of the cheese, you should take a moment and evaluate it again this time using the sense of touch within your mouth.

Smell

After you look at and touch the cheese, you should take a whiff to see how it smells. If the cheese has a rind, pay close attention to whether the rind and cheese smell different. Every cheese is different so you may not know exactly how to describe it. Some common smells that you may notice are: nutty, spicy, meat, leather, animal, chocolate, caramel, garlic, yogurt, mold, fresh butter and boiled milk.

Taste

After you have used every other sense (except of course hearing which doesn’t apply), it is time to taste the cheese. You want to pay close attention to your first impressions and during this process try to use some of the same adjectives you did when thinking about the smell of the cheese. After you have put the cheese in your mouth, wait until you finish eating it to finish evaluating. Some cheeses will change flavors as you eat them or have a different aftertaste and this is an important thing to appreciate. You should also try to pay attention to whether the cheese tasted like its smell implied it would as sometimes they will, but sometimes they won’t.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Can You Eat Cheese While Pregnant?

Some pregnant women hear that they shouldn’t be eating cheese during their pregnancy as it can cause a risk. The reality is that most of the time, it is completely fine to eat cheese even if you are pregnant, but you do need to be aware of some things to make sure that you stay safe. If you are cautious, neither you nor your baby will be at risk and you can use cheese as one of your sources of calcium. Here are the important things to keep in mind.

Concerns

The reason that some experts caution against eating cheese during pregnancy is that all cheese contains bacteria and while most cheeses have negligible amounts or only healthy bacteria, some other types will contain a certain one known as listeria. Listeria could make you have flu-like symptoms and potentially harm your baby, but the good news is that it is incredibly rare so your chances of getting it are slim. Despite this, it is best to avoid eating soft, mold-ripened cheeses while you are pregnant.

Cook Thoroughly

Although you should do your best to avoid eating soft, mold-ripened cheeses or blue-veined cheeses (which have an even lower risk of leading to listeria than the already low risk associated with the former cheese), you can eat either of these types if you cook them first. That is because it will kill the bacteria, but if you do this, make sure to completely cook the cheese instead of simply melting it.

Completely Safe Cheeses

If you are a cheese lover like most people, the good news is that soft, mold-ripened cheeses and blue-veined cheeses are the only types that you have to be worried about. Hard cheeses are safe even if they were made using unpasteurized milk. This means that you never have to worry about eating cheeses such as cheddar, Gouda, provolone, parmesan and other hard cheeses. You could also have any soft cheese that is pasteurized and made using pasteurized milk.

Mozzarella

One cheese that some women are concerned about because it is hard to fit into one of the above categories
is mozzarella but the good news is that you can have it in moderation during pregnancy without any worries. Even better, eating mozzarella can help increase your consumption of protein as well as calcium which will promote the healthy development of your baby. In fact, this is true of any other of the safe cheeses, such as cheddar, as well.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Are There Different Types Of Cheddar Cheese?

When you are in the market for cheddar cheese, almost everyone knows that there are several different choices available. While if you go to your local grocery store you may only see options such as mild, sharp and extra sharp, shopping at a cheese retailer will give you a wider variety of options. There are plenty of cheddar options available including varying levels of sharpness, color and even additional flavors. Here are just some of the different types of cheddar cheese that you will find.

Age

The most important difference that you can see is different ages of cheddar cheese and this is related to sharpness. That is because as cheese ages, it becomes sharper as the flavors become stronger. Most of the time the oldest cheese that you will find, even sold by specialty retailers is around 5 years old. That is because mild cheddar is usually aged for only two or three months. Sharp cheddar cheese, on the other hand is aged for a bit longer, usually around a year in total. If you see extra sharp cheddar either in your local store or from a specialty retailer, this is usually aged for around eighteen months. If you don’t have a specialty cheese seller that you go to, you will probably have to buy extra sharp cheddar and age it if you want something older. You can, however, find premium cheeses that are up to five years old. Some sellers will even have seven year old cheddar cheese.

Flavors

Sometimes you want a bit of extra flavor in your cheese and although adding flavor to cheddar isn’t as common as it is with other types of cheeses, such as goat cheese, it is possible to find flavored cheddar, mostly from specialty cheese sellers. The simplest added flavor is when cheddar is maple smoked during the production or aging process to add a little extra flavor. You can also occasionally find other choices such as jalapeno cheddar.

White Or Yellow

If you aren’t familiar with cheeses, then you may be confused as to whether you want to buy white cheddar or yellow cheddar. The truth is that they are the same exact cheese. Cheese will naturally vary in color based on what time of the year the cow’s milk comes from and when a cow’s diet has less beta-carotene, the cheese will be whiter. When cheddar was still new, people liked the flavor of yellow cheddar better so manufacturers started adding a bit of dye to make sure the cheese was yellow. The dye is all natural but its presence can mean that the cheddar will definitely be yellow; otherwise it depends on when the milk was produced.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why Do Cheese Curds Lose Their Squeak?

Cheese curds are small little pieces of cheese that are leftover from the process of making bigger pieces and anyone who has had them before know that one of their key characteristics, other than their small size, is their squeakiness. This type of cheese is most popular in the Midwest, certain parts of New York and Quebec and can be almost impossible to find anywhere else because it is best while fresh. That is because after a few days, the curds will lose their squeak and then they won’t taste as good either. There are many theories about why cheese curds lose their squeak but to understand the truth, you need to understand why they squeak in the first place.

Myth: Trapped Air

One of the most commonly heard reasons that cheese curds lose their squeak is that they lose air. This theory holds that it is air trapped within the curds which squeak but it seems that instead of being true, this was simply said by someone once upon a time and then the internet decided it was the truth. The reality is that if trapped air caused the squeakiness, there would be no way for it to escape and cause the curds to lose their squeak.

Why They Squeak

The real reason that cheese curds squeak comes down to science and their structure. Most people are aware that milk products, such as cheese, have protein and it is the structure of this protein that creates the squeak. Each curd itself is a combination of milk fat and casein protein that forms a protein matrix. While these molecules would stay in their matrix, their structure changes when they are exposed to rennet during the manufacturing process. That is because rennet eliminates the negative charge that some of the casein proteins have and this means that they are able to create long protein chains. It is these chains that create the squeak because they will rub against your teeth’s enamel.

Why They Lose Their Squeak

Cheese curds can lose their squeak over time for one of two reasons. The first is that during the manufacturing process they are salted, hooped and then pressed and each of these steps takes away some moisture. The process also causes the long protein strands to compress. This means that although they will still be long enough to squeak for a day or so, they won’t after that. The other option is that the curds were left unpressed but their acidity causes a low pH. The problem with the lower pH is that it breaks down the proteins so they are smaller and less likely to squeak.

How To Get The Squeak Back

This structure that causes cheese curds to lose their squeak is also why you can get the squeakiness back by microwaving them for a few seconds. When you microwave cheese curds, some of the moisture will go through hydrolysis so the molecules in the protein chain will drop their negative ions. This means that longer protein chains can be formed again and that can bring the squeakiness back.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What’s The Best Way To Store Cheese So It Doesn’t Spoil?

When it comes to cheese, there are many different varieties that you can choose from and each one is different from the next. The problem most people tend to run into, however, is how to store their cheese. It is almost always unrealistic to expect that you will eat an entire piece of cheese in one sitting, unless of course you are hosting a cheese party. The thing is that if you don’t finish the cheese, most people don’t know what to do with it. There can even be confusion about whether you should leave the cheese in its original packaging until you eat it or rewrap it as soon as you get home from the store.

Where To Store

The first thing you need to think about when it comes to storing cheese is where you should store it. Almost everyone stores cheese in their refrigerator and this is of course one of the best choices. You should try to store it in the warmest area of your fridge as depending on the type of cheese you have, it may not need temperatures that are as cool as other foods.

What To Use

One of the most common ways people store their cheese is in plastic wrap and this is actually one of the worst ways possible to store it. That’s because when you wrap your cheese too tightly, harmful bacteria are more likely to grow. If you wrap it too tight, you also run the risk of natural odors (such as ammonia) not being able to dissipate and the plastic may even add some flavor to the cheese.
Instead the very best option is to wrap your cheese up in cheese paper. If you are like most people and don’t have cheese paper on hand, another option is to wrap your cheese up in some wax or parchment paper and then put it loosely inside a plastic bag or plastic wrap. The layer of plastic will prevent the cheese from drying out while still giving enough air for ammonia to dissipate.

How To Wrap It

To wrap up your cheese start with a piece of wax paper. Make sure that the wax paper is much larger than the piece of cheese you are wrapping; it should be three to four times the length of the cheese and around twice as wide. Put your cheese on the wax paper around two-thirds up making sure that the cut side is down. You want the sharp narrow to be on the right side. Take the bottom right corner of your wax paper and bring it up the cheese so it is tight then bring the right side over and secure it in place with a piece of tape.

The pointy end should now be fully wrapped. Take the top right part of the cheese and fold it down and then repeat the process so you have all but one side of the cheese wrapped. Wrap that side like a present and tape it in place. If you want, you can put it in a plastic bag but don’t close it all the way.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What’s The Best Way To Age Cheddar?

If you like older, sharper cheddar but don’t want to spend as much money on it, you can age it yourself right at home. This is also a good option if you like your cheddar aged longer than what you can usually find in stores (and in most cases the maximum is around 7 years and that is only from specialty cheese sellers). The process is surprisingly simple as long as you take other factors into consideration. You can either start with fresh, homemade cheese or purchase some cheese that is already aged and allow it to continue aging to save some time.

Where To Store

The most important step in the process of aging cheddar is to find the correct place to store it. Most manufacturers will have a cheese cave that meets all of the necessary requirements but most individuals won’t. For your cheddar to age correctly you need to store it in a cool, damp place with plenty of humidity and ventilation.

Some people try to use their current refrigerator but the average temperature is about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than a cave. This means if you store it in your fridge, you should put it in the warmest part and turn up the temperature as much as your other food can handle. Another option is to get an old refrigerator you don’t use anymore and keep the temperature between 52 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have a cellar, then you can simply put the cheese in a cabinet or covered plastic boxes in the cellar. Some people who don’t have an old fridge, don’t want to turn up the temperature in their current one and don’t have a cellar will choose to invest in a wine refrigerator and this is another great option.

Set Up

The process of actually setting it up is fairly simple. You need to make sure that the environment for your cheese is damp but that the cheese itself is not moist. You also want to check for ventilation and make sure the cheese has enough room. When you put the cheese in a container in your fridge, the cheese should never take up more than 40% of the container.

Humidity

As mentioned, one of the most important things to keep in mind for aging your cheese is humidity. If you are using a fridge or something similar to age your cheese, simply placing a pan of water in there may be enough but you will have to pay close attention to the water levels at all times. If your cheese is in a container, you should put a wet towel on the top but the key is to make sure that the towel is simply damp; it should not be wet enough to drip or to touch your cheese. If your cheese doesn’t get enough humidity, it may start to dry out and crack.

Keep Watch

It is important to remember that you should not just leave your cheese alone to age. You will need to check on it regularly to make sure the environment has enough humidity and ventilation and that the temperature is correct. You also want to check for incorrect molds to make sure that your cheddar is aging correctly.

Friday, February 7, 2014

What Is The White Stuff On Aged Cheddar?

If you are a fan of aged cheddar, then you have probably noticed that when you eat older cheddars you will find some white crystals formed on the outside and occasionally on the inside as well. Some people find these little white pieces concerning but you they aren’t a problem at all. There is a simple explanation and in fact, they aren’t just found on aged cheddar. You can actually find them on other aged cheeses such as gouda, Parmigiano Reggiano or gruyere. The truth is that this white stuff is made up of tiny crystals and in no way indicates that the cheese is going bad.

Don’t Worry

The initial reaction most people have when they see something unfamiliar on their cheese is that it isn’t supposed to be there and is therefore bad. Some common concerns people have when they see the crystals on aged cheddar include thinking the cheese is old, thinking it’s a cheese mite, thinking the cheese is drying out or even thinking the cheese makers added it on purpose. The reality is that they are natural crystals that won’t harm you in any way and therefore shouldn’t cause concern.

Tyrosine

Put simply, these crystals are lactic acid that has aged and become crystallized as the cheese got older. Experts refer to these crystals as tyrosine which is the name of the non-essential amino acid that they are made up of. This protein is the dominant one found in milk which explains it presence in your aged cheddar.

Formation

If you want to know how the tyrosine crystals form, you need to understand a bit more about the structure of the cheese. As the cheese is produced, various proteins and fats become trapped within protein chains. These protein chains were bonded together during the process of acidification that helped make the cheese and this is necessary as these combinations of proteins and fats are what make the curds that lead to the making of the cheese. If the cheese ages for a long time, then these protein chains will start to unravel and as they do, small and crunchy deposits will form as a result.

Adds To The Cheese

While some people are unsure about the tyrosine crystals found in aged cheddar, others feel that they can add a great deal to the cheese. If your aged cheddar is nice and smooth, the crystals can add a bit of texture to give you some variety. Other people feel that these crystals will help the cheese and your beverage of choice work together. A classic example is if you have well-aged cheddar and are drinking it with a full-bodied stout. When having that combination, some people feel that the crunch in the cheese will give it a textural intensity that helps to match the fullness of your beer, improving the overall experience.

Clarification

Some other cheeses will also have crunchiness that isn’t due to tyrosine. If the cheese is a wash-rind cheese then it may be that residual salt crystals were left during the washing process and you can tell the difference because the crunchy white stuff (the salt crystals) will only be present on the outside layer.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What Is The Longest Aged Cheddar?

One of the most popular cheeses in the United States is cheddar and when you look around, you will notice several different varieties available, most of them involving varying degrees of sharpness. A sharper cheese tends to be older so if you are looking for older cheddars, you want to find extra sharp or the sharpest option available to you. Although most cheddar is only aged a few years at the most, it is sometimes aged much longer, whether on purpose or by accident, and this changes the flavor slightly.

Aging Effects

Before knowing how old the longest aged cheddar was, it is important to know what happens to cheddar as it ages. We already mentioned that it gets sharper but not everyone has a good understanding of what exactly this means. As the cheese ages, bacteria are able to produce more enzymes that will in turn break down the fats and proteins in the cheese. This in turn tends to give the cheese a taste that is nuttier and even a bit beefy. The important thing to remember, however, is that aging cheddar is not an exact science and therefore not all older cheddars will taste the same; it depends on how well they were prepared and a little bit of luck, but the experts are able to produce consistent results.

Standard Aging Classifications

Simply knowing that cheddar which has aged for longer is sharper is not enough to truly understand what the longest aged cheddar means. Instead you need a relative time frame so you can more easily compare what aged cheddar would be like in terms of sharpness in flavor. Most of the time, if you have mild cheddar it will have been aged for two to three months. Sharp cheddars have been aged a bit longer, usually around a year. If you love extra sharp cheddar cheese, then you probably prefer ones that have been aged for about a year and a half.

Older Cheeses

There are, however, plenty of places where you can get older cheddar cheese. Sellers who specialize in cheese will generally have a larger variety. Some will sell cheddar that has been aged for five or six years while others will go up to seven years. The longest aged cheddar you are likely to find from a specialty seller is about 10 years old and even that can be difficult because very few people like the taste as it is so strong.

Oldest Ever

Despite the fact that most people prefer their cheddar to be aged for a year and a half or less, there was recently some cheddar that was 40 years old. This was not intentional however; it was a lucky accident. Ed Zahn had made the cheese years ago when he was still working in an old cheese manufacturer in Oconto, Wisconsin and when he went back in 2012 he found this batch in the back of a cooler. Some people said that this cheese was so old it was barely edible due to the sharp flavor but it was such a rarity to find a cheddar aged for so long that it sold out quickly.

Monday, February 3, 2014

New Logo; What Does it Symbolize?

We are very excited to introduce you to our new logo! This is a sneak peak before we've even changed it on our packaging and website, so we hope you enjoy! We wanted to show a cow on our logo which is a major part of how and why we can exist as a company. We want all of you to know we have farm fresh milk everyday without any additives, antibiotics, RBGH, etc...

Look closely at the cow.... Notice anything? Look at the cow's largest spot... Yes that's the state of NY, which symbolizes the state we produce our cheese in.

The last thing we want to point out about our new logo is the red banner at the bottom. This is a new slogan at Golden Age Cheese, as we want to remind all of our customers that our cheeses are all natural; from the fresh Mozzarella cheeses, to the sharpest Cheddar cheeses, to the way we smoke our smoked cheeses, nothing has preservatives or anything artificial!

Thanks for reading, and we hope you like our new logo as much as we do!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

What Cheese Goes Well With Dry Wine?

When it comes to pairing wine and cheese it sometimes seems as if you need an expert to tell you the exact match to make. The reality, however, is that with just a little bit of knowledge you can make the match yourself and find a great pairing. This is good news whether you simply want to relax and enjoy some wine and cheese at home or are hosting a wine and cheese party for some of your friends. In general, white wines tend to be easier to pair with cheeses than red wines so we will mostly focus on white dry wines.

Concerns

You should always be careful when trying to pair a cheese with a dry wine because if you do not choose correctly, the taste may be affected. Certain mild cheeses will have a slightly sweet taste and when you pair this with a dry wine, the wine will end up seeming tart and acidic instead of rich and fruity. This is always an issue if the food is sweeter than the wine so it can be especially problematic for dry wines. If you follow the following guidelines, however, you shouldn’t have a problem pairing cheeses with dry wine.

Blue Cheese

Blue cheeses are one of the best choices if you have a dry wine. That is because the cheese is not overly sweet which would make the wine taste bitter. Instead the strong taste of a blue cheese tends to make dry wines taste even fruitier, enhancing their flavor and providing a treat for the senses.

Fresh Cheese

Most of the time you won’t eat a fresh cheese by itself; instead you will pair it with a food item, adding a bit of flavor to a salad, dessert or cooked dish. Many people choose not to pair wines with fresh cheeses, but you can. If you do this one of your best choices is to opt for a dry Chenin Blanc wine or something similar. If the fresh cheese is brined and pressed, then try opting for a dry white in general.

Hard Cheese

When you look at hard cheeses, they tend to be a bit sweeter and this may make some people hesitant to pair them with dry wines due to the warning mentioned above. They can, however, work with certain dry wines as long as you know what you are doing. If you would like to pair a dry wine with a hard cheese, opt for a sparkling wine or a light white as this will bring out both flavors.

Other Considerations

If you are looking to pair a dry wine with a dish and not just a piece of cheese or cheese and crackers, then you have more options. Instead of focusing on the cheese in the dish, focus on some of the other flavors involved. You could also try choosing a dry wine and a cheese from the same region. Another consideration is that if instead of wine you want champagne, dry champagne can go well with a cheese that has a bloomy white rind.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Is Mozzarella Stretching Curd Good On Pizza?

When it comes to cheeses, there are a wide variety of options available and while people usually stick to the cheeses they know, there are other options. One cheese that is gaining in popularity is mozzarella stretching curd. This curd is traditionally used to make mozzarella cheese, but people are finding more and more creative uses for it including in their everyday cooking. While most people would use the mozzarella stretching curd to make mozzarella and then use that on pizza, others are skipping the step of curing it and simply using the stretching curd itself and they tend to get great results.

Making The Curd

To better understand why mozzarella stretching curd is generally considered good on pizza, it is important to know how it is made so you can better understand what exactly it is. Put simply, the process involves taking small pieces of the curd and heating them up in hot water so that they become elastic. You can then knead the cheese by stretching it out and letting it fold back into itself. Overtime, the mozzarella stretching curd will become smooth on the surface. At this point you can cool it down by putting it into some ice water for between five and ten minutes and it is ready.

Mozzarella

After you have the mozzarella stretching curd cooled, then it will become mozzarella and this is one of the most popular choices for cheese on a pizza. That is because mozzarella was not only the first type of stretched curd cheese, but it became truly famous when the Italians started using it on both pizza and pasta dishes. Some people are surprised to learn that mozzarella most likely originated in the Middle East, not Italy although that is the country that gave it its fame.

Properties Of The Curd

Both mozzarella and the mozzarella stretching curd share several properties that make them ideal for use on pizza. Due to the stretching process, the cheeses are fairly elastic which makes them easy to spread on pizza (or on other foods). In addition, they have a nice smooth texture that allows the finished pizza itself to have a good texture as well. The most important thing about mozzarella stretching curd, however, is how it melts. Mozzarella and its stretching curd become nice and elastic when melting and will produce an even melt, which is exactly what is desired on a pizza.

Final Verdict

Although mozzarella stretching curd can be good on pizza, most people who use it to create a pizza will go through the simply, thirty minute process to turn it into mozzarella first, even if it is not aged mozzarella. This puts the cheese in a form that is familiar to work with and is incredibly easy to do. With just the curd and a few extra supplies (sometimes sold together in a kit) you can easily make your own fresh mozzarella in minutes. In fact, you could even be doing this while you wait for your pizza dough to rise so the time is not lost.

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