When cooking, it is inevitable to replace a few ingredients once in a while. This is due to reasons like; unavailability of certain ingredients, cost constrains, or simply replacing with healthier alternatives. The key factor when swapping ingredients is to determine that the replacement can fulfil and will still be able to come up with worthy results. Therefore characteristics like flavor, fat-content, chemical balance, texture and color should be kept in mind.
Cheeses are very complex when it comes to flavor and texture. One could not only substitute cheddar for mozzarella or Colby jack for provolone, since these largely vary in characteristics. In fact, using the wrong cheese even has extreme implications in some recipes. A lot of cooks out there find themselves in a dilemma since some cheeses are not even available in their area.
Below is a short guide and description on how to replace hard-to-find cheeses with the more common variants but can still yield acceptable results. I do not guarantee best results but I assure you that these will still do justice to your recipes.
Gruyere - is a hard yellow cheese made from cow's milk. It is sweet and slightly salty, but the flavor that varies with age. It is mostly used as melting cheese, bearing a chewy and stringy texture when melted. It has a distinguishing light and savoury flavor but does not tend to overshadow other ingredients. When utilized for melting, a cheese mixture of 75% Mozzarella and 25% mild Cheddar cheese yields similar features.
Brie – is a soft cow’s cheese and is pale in color. It is very soft and savoury in flavor, bearing similarities with Camembert cheese in texture. The latter can be used as substitute for cooking while cream cheese is sometimes preferred for baking applications.
Provolone - is a semi-hard cheese with flavours ranging from semi-sweet to a slightly sharp and piquant taste. More common substitutes vary depending on the purpose; Most people use mozzarella for melting, Muenster and Swiss cheese when going for flavour, and sharp Cheddar or parmesan to add some sharpness to it.
Cottage cheese - is a product of cheese curds and has a mild flavor. It is drained, washed to remove acids to give it a sweet flavour, but not pressed, so some whey remains and the curds remain loose. Cheese curds or Ricotta are the best alternatives to this cheese. Feta is sometimes used but it has a more salty and pickled taste to it.
Bleu cheese - is a general classification of cheeses that have spotted or sometimes veined mold into it. The color of the mold is dependent to the make of cheese; but is usually blue, blue-gray or blue-green in hue. One unique characteristic of this cheese is that distinctive smell. Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Bleu are just some of the variants of blue cheese and can be used alternatively.
Grana Padano - is a hard, fatty cheese which is cooked and ripened for at least 9 months. Parmesan cheese can be used however Grana Padano is less crumbly, milder and less complex in flavor; which is why it is preferred by some since it cannot overpower other ingredients.
Colby – is similar to Cheddar, but is softer, moister, and milder as compared to the latter. Due to its mild flavor, Monterey Jack or Gouda is best used in place of it. In fact, when equally mixed together with Monterey Jack, you can make your very own Colby jack cheese.
Emmental - A yellow, medium-hard cheese which is piquant and sharp in flavor and has large holes that are a characteristic of this cheese. It is a type of Swiss cheese so substituting it with any kind of Swiss cheese will work just fine.
-Written by Gab Castellano
Saturday, September 11, 2010
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