Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What Cheese Is The Healthiest?

What Cheese Is The Healthiest?

Who doesn't love cheese and how it makes everything taste better. Old-timers even throw a slice on their warm apple pie. What people don't love about this member of the dairy group is all the fat, calories, and sodium that comes with it. So, what is the best choice for your health in the cheese department?

Two extremes out there that aren't always counted in the group are Cottage and Cream cheese. Cream isn't the best because it usually has over 400 calories per serving and more than forty grams of fat. To top it off, it ranks low in protein. Cottage, on the other hand, usually comes in with less than 100 calories and 2 grams of fat per cup, and over 10 grams of calcium and protein.

But what about the kind you can slice or shred? First of all, think of cheese as getting the nutritional equivalent of milk with more flavor and uses. Then understand why you choose 1% or skim milk, and try to make the same decisions when it comes to Cheddar, and other varieties. You should also consider that goat's milk is a healthier option, therefore goat cheese is healthier than cow. Because Feta comes from goat or sheep milk it is one of the best choices out there to choose, and it still holds a very rich, unique flavor.

One important thing you need to consider when thinking about the healthiest choice is what you consider to be healthy for you and your family? Is it low in fat, calories and sodium? Or is it made from quality, near as natural ingredients as possible? If you lean more toward the first choice then it's safe to stick to the normal aisle where you find sliced, shredded and boxed varieties. One warning here: while a lot of these are low fat and calories, a lot are also products and very high in sodium and man-made products. Try heading to the deli department or the artisan section or even a farmer's market where you can find cheeses that aren't 'products.' Here Amish and imports from Europe are safe bets because there's far less processing going into the end block. Most their cows aren't treated with hormones and are still grass fed. Plus, you don't have to be a label guru to discern this.

Whatever your likes are, take the time to find the best brick for your taste bud and health, and it will pay off in the end.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What Is The Best Cheese For Nachos?

What Is The Best Cheese For Nachos?

You're making dinner and have decided that Mexican is the way to go. But instead of reaching for tortillas and anything too traditional you've decided to go for some delicious, oven baked Nachos.

Problem is you don't have any cheese in the house. Now I don't know about you, but this is the one item that's quickest to send me to the grocery store to replenish. I can have a fridge full of food, but if there isn't a Cheddar or Colby block, I don't have anything to eat. Since you have to get this staple, it's got you thinking, “What would be the best for my Nachos?”

It can be an easy and quick reaction to go for one of the highly processed, liquid cheese foods. Yes, these often taste good, and they are so easy to pour over your chips and carefully selected toppings. But, if you're picking a cheese, don't you want that and not a product of? My suggestion is to choose a more naturally made, soft, melt-friendly kind. This suggests any of the Monterey Jack varieties (especially good if you select one with peppers already in it) or Mozzarella. If you're feeling especially industrious you can make your own cheese sauce by melting several types with whole milk and perhaps a tablespoon of butter.

I try to avoid the pre-shredded bags because of two reasons. First, I don't like that there's such a list of ingredients, especially when one of them is potato starch. Second, they cost more than getting a brick and shredding it yourself. If you go this route, it's best to choose two cheeses and finely shred them over the top of your Nachos. My choice here would be Sharp Cheddar and Pepper Jack.

The variety that always wins out in my house for Nacho toppings is Chihuahua. This is made from cow's milk and comes from the Chihuahua state in Mexico. It's soft and is very easy to melt. The flavor is something you'd recognize if you're one to frequent the more authentic Mexican restaurants. It reminds me of somewhere between Mozzarella and Provolone. Like most great cheeses it isn't cheap, but because of it's unique flavor that lends itself so perfectly to Nachos you won't need as much as you might if you were using a more mild Mozzarella.

Once you've got that decided, make sure you have all the extras so your Nachos will be the best!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How is Cheddar Cheese Made from Cheese Curds?

Cheddar cheese is usually known to be somehow hard. It can have yellow or off white color as well. It actually originated from Cheddar village in Somerset. Today, Cheddar is considered as one of the most popular cheese in the whole of UK. In the US, it’s also very popular. It comes second after Mozzarella which is also a very wonderful cheese widely eaten in the US.
The Cheddar Making Process

Cheddar Cheese is made from cheese curds. The production process begins by the gathering of the food ingredients needed. The basic ingredients needed include milk and rennet. The milk used is allowed to ripen before the rennet is added. The ripening of the milk allows lactose to be turned into lactic acid by the resident bacteria. This lowers the pH and also contributes to making the milk to coagulate. This is very important for the making of quality cheese curds which are then turned into cheddar.

The Rennet usually added is an enzyme which is normally gotten from the belly of milk fed calf. The rennet contributes to the coagulation of the milk proteins which helps in the production of curds. In most cases, rennet contains bovine pepsin and chymosin. These two elements help in making the curds come out well.
In most cases, 3 or 4 oz of rennet is usually added per 1000 lb of mix. This helps the milk protein to coagulate and then form nice curds. The Vat is usually mixed after the rennet has been added. This ensures equal mixing and also helps in diluting the rennet for easy spreading. At this point, clean water will be added to dilute the rennet.

Meanwhile, there are also basic equipments required when making cheddar cheese from curds. A stainless steel knife is usually used to cut the curds in a uniform manner during the production process. A stainless steel frame that has stainless steel wires is also needed to slice the curds well.
Vats are also needed during the production process. They can be in rectangular or oval shapes. They may also have nice hollow walls which will be used for accommodating warm water necessary for keeping the curds at required temperatures.
A quality milling machine will then be used to slice the matted curds which are formed as the cheddaring process continues. This will then allow the curds to be salted easily.
Now, curd setting is the next stage. Once the rennet has been added, the entire mixture is allowed to settle in order to form curds. The right temperature must also be set to control the process. Usually, a flat blade is inserted into the curds to make it set. This will be raised up slowly. If the curd breaks, it’s set for cutting. Usually, the curd is sliced into tiny cubes with the help of a stainless steel wire knife. The sliced curds will then be handled well to avoid the loss of protein and fat.

The next stage is the cooking of the curds. After that comes the draining of the curds. Then the curds will be stacked during the cheddaring process. The milking process commences. Usually, the curds can be milked using the hand. The salting process will then follow. After that, the curds are then packed and pressed. They will also be weighed into moulds. After this, the cheddar cheese will then be allowed to age. The aging process may last for one or two months. However this can also last for 1 or more years depending on the type of cheddar needed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What Are the Different Kinds of Swiss Cheese and How Do They Differ?

The term, “Swiss cheese,” actually refers to a family of cheeses. The variety we are most accustomed to buying, the pale yellow product with large holes is called Emmentaler, and is manufactured here in the United States. The big holes come from the release of carbon dioxide during the process of fermentation.

The second most popular variety of Swiss cheese is Gruyere, which is a hard cheese that is a product of the French speaking area of Switzerland. It is a popular variety used in cooking because it melts very smoothly and has a mild taste with just a bite of flavor. It is commonly used in fondue recipes, with French onion soup, and on French dip sandwiches.

The hardest of the Swiss cheese varieties is Sbrintz. This product is as hard as Parmesan and is often mistaken for it. Incidentally, Sbrintz is the oldest cheese made in Europe, dating back to 70 AD.

Made in the Appenzell region of Switzerland, Appenzellar is a semi-hard product that is sold at various stages of aging, which affects its taste. It is soaked in a brine of herbs with wine or cider vinegar, giving the cheese a fruity taste.

Schabziger is made with skim milk and is basically fat free. During production, it is usually shaped into a cone and the addition of the herb blue melliot turns the cheese an odd green shade. Schabziger, like Gruyere, is a great ingredient for fondue recipes, and is sometimes mixed with butter to create a cracker spread.

A nutty, pungent variety is Tete de Moine. This was once known as Bellebay, in honor of the monastery where it was made; the name was changed after the French Revolution. This is such a strong tasting and smelling cheese, that it is best served in very thin slices.

Raclette is a softer variety that is named for the way it is most often prepared. Sliced thin and baked on cookie sheet, it melts into a thin, bubbly treat that is usually scraped off the pan and spread on crackers or potatoes.

In all, there are 450 different kinds of Swiss cheese, classified as hard, semi hard, extra hard, semi soft, and soft. The fundamental difference in the production of these varieties is the amount of moisture used in the production process. Harder varieties are usually packed into molds and aged for a longer period of time than the softer products.

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