Sunday, April 26, 2015

Where To Find The Best Gourmet Cheese

A trip to your local store can make it incredibly easy to find cheese, but that is only true if you are looking for run-of-the-mill mass produced options. While the local grocery store is the perfect place to get standard cheddar cheese, if you want to try something truly amazing, such as gourmet cheese, you will probably have to look a little harder. It is possible to find gourmet cheese in your supermarket, but you would have to be incredibly lucky and shop at a high-end grocery store.

Any Store With Knowledgeable Staff

If you are looking for gourmet cheese, chances are that you will find it at any cheese retailer that has knowledgeable staff. This is true of both stores that specialize only in cheese and those that sell other products as well, such as wine. Typically speaking, those who know all of the intricacies of cheese and its production will want to work in a place that sells the best products. Whether it is a physical or online store, if there is a cheese expert on hand, there are probably at least several gourmet options to select from.

Specialty Retail Stores

Depending on where you live, you may be lucky enough to have a quality specialty cheese retailer near to you. Not all cheese shops will have gourmet cheese or even the highest quality offerings. That being said, it is worth checking out your local stores to see their selection and ask for a sample. As the best gourmet cheese will usually be more expensive, try to seek out slightly fancier stores, although you may find some amazing gourmet cheese at affordable retailers as well.

Online Specialty Retailers

Perhaps the best place to find high quality gourmet cheese is from online specialty retailers. They tend to offer a better selection as well as more affordable prices because their upfront and monthly maintenance costs are much lower. Look for an online retailer that focuses on cheese as their main product, although some will also sell other related items, such as packaged gourmet meat, such as salami sold in packages with cheese. The retailer should have a wide selection and in many cases, you will find the best gourmet cheeses at retailers that offer cheese for all budgets.

Farmer’s Markets

If you are lucky enough to have a local farmer’s market, go check it out. You will probably find at least one stand with artisanal cheese and although that is not necessarily gourmet, it will be fairly close. This cheese will be fresh and typically made right at home with the same attention and care given to gourmet cheese. You may even luck out and find true gourmet cheese at the market.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Why Cheese Curds Make Great Gifts

If you are having problems finding the perfect holiday present for someone, consider cheese curds. Although not everyone has heard of this particular type of cheese, they are delicious and can quickly become a favorite. Whether your gift recipient has had cheese curds in the past or never tried them before, here are just some of the reasons they will be sure to appreciate this particular gift.

They’re Versatile

To start off, cheese curds are incredibly versatile. Because each curd is a bite sized piece, they are a delicious and easy-to-transport snack when standing alone. You can still eat them with crackers like any other cheese or sprinkle them on a salad. They are even the star of the classic Quebec dish poutine that features fries, cheese curds, and gravy. The options for eating cheese curds are truly limitless.

Lots Of Flavors

Standard cheese curds are cheddar, but you can also get them in many other flavors. This means that you can give someone a gift of multiple different types of cheese curds so they can find their favorite. It also gives you the chance to select a flavor that you know they will love. Just some flavors you will find (in addition to plain cheddar) are Italian, garlic, ranch and chive, onion and chive, buffalo wing, habanero ranch, bacon and chive, taco, cajun, garlic and dill, bacon and horseradish, dill, and jalapeno. With all those choices, you will find something that your gift recipient will enjoy.

A New Experience

It may seem odd to give someone the gift of cheese curds, especially if they haven’t had them before, but in reality, that is part of the gift. You are giving your friend or family member the chance to try something new. Because cheese curds are typically found in particular areas of the country, if you live somewhere else and don’t give them as a present, he or she may never try them in their lifetime. You are not only giving them a delicious treat, but also a once in a lifetime experience.

Fun To Eat

If you have ever eaten cheese curds then you know that compared to standard cheese, they are pretty fun to eat. This comes down to their unusual shape as well as the fact that they squeak when they come in contact with your teeth enamel. That is something you can’t say about most types of cheese, meaning that only cheese curds offer this particular aspect that makes them fun to eat.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

When Can You Introduce Cheese To A Baby?

Any new parent probably knows that they can’t give their baby every single food yet. There is a timeline for introducing new foods and some of it depends on physical development, such as motor skills and having teeth, while other elements depend on safety. Introducing cheese involves both of these things.

Why Wait

When babies are first born, they find it very difficult to digest cow’s milk. That’s why formula is suggested instead of cow’s milk if breastfeeding is not an option. Despite this, cheese isn’t as much of a concern as other dairy products, such as milk. That is due to the method by which cheese is cultured as it reduces lactose and makes it easier to digest the milk protein.

When It’s Safe

Most pediatricians will recommend that you wait until your baby is about six months old to start introducing cheese into his diet and this is about the time that you will start introducing other foods as well. Other pediatricians will suggest waiting a bit longer, such as eight to ten months, so you should always ask your child’s doctor before introducing it.

Special Considerations

If your child has shown any signs of a milk or cheese allergy (such as through accidental contact) or there is a family history of these problems, his pediatrician may suggest waiting a bit longer to introduce cheese. No matter whether or not there is a family history of allergies, always be careful to make sure your baby doesn’t have a negative reaction. Watch him closely for wheezing, diarrhea, swelling, rashes, or other symptoms of food allergies and wait to introduce a new food for at least three days.

How To Introduce It

Although you can introduce your baby to cheese starting at around six months of age, you should wait longer to give him softer or unpasteurized cheese as these varieties will have more bacteria present. Instead, start with American, Jack, Colby, or cottage cheese. Don’t be surprised if your baby simply wants to play with his cheese the first time you give it to him, but be patient. Make sure you cut it into pieces the sizes of a finger-tip so he doesn’t choke. You can also try grating some cheese into some mashed avocado or banana or some scrambled eggs. You can also add some finely diced fruit to the cheese, especially if you are introducing cottage cheese.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

What Makes The Different Blue Cheeses

Whether you usually stick to the more popular cheeses or like to try new flavors and varieties, you will probably have noticed that there are several different types of blue cheese available. It is true that each of these cheeses is similar in some way, leading to their classification as a blue cheese, but there are also some important distinctions between them.

What Is Blue Cheese?

Before getting into the differences between blue cheeses, it is important to understand the requirements for being considered a blue cheese in the first place. Blue cheese includes characteristic blue veins and these are made by the addition of the mold Penicillium during the culturing process. In addition to the changing the appearance of the cheese, this mold also changes the scent, texture, and flavor. Blue cheese can be made with any type of milk and tends to be crumbly or soft, depending on the preparation process and exact ingredients. When it comes to blue cheese, most people either love it or hate it as it is a unique taste and scent.

Most Common Blue Cheeses

Probably the three most common types of blue cheese are gorgonzola, roquefort, and stilton. Gorgonzola is made using goat or cow’s milk or a combination. It has a salty taste and a creamy, crumbly, and firm texture. Roquefort is unique for its green veins. There is no rind and the flavor is complex, starting out sweet, then becoming smoky, before leaving a tangy aftertaste. Stilton is made using unpasteurized cow’s milk and is semi-soft as well as crumbly, although aged stilton is creamy.

Other Blue Cheeses

While those blue cheeses are the most common, there are many more types available. Cabrales is made from a mixture of sheep and goat’s milk and tends to be spicier and stronger. Cambozola uses a lot of cow’s milk as it contains three times the normal quantity of cream, creating a soft and ripe cheese. Danish blue cheese is strong, semi-soft, and creamy. It usually ages for 8 to 12 weeks.
Dorset Blue Vinney cheese is made from unpasteurized skimmed milk from cows. Despite still having a strong taste and aroma, it has a harder texture with an outer layer that is crusty. Fourme d’Ambert is a French cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk and it comes in a cylinder. The texture is semi-hard and the cheese ages for about 28 days. Other blue cheeses include Queso de Valdeon, Saint Agur Blue, Blue Castello, Danablu, Cashel Bleu, Stichelton, Maytag Blue cheese, Bleu de Gex, and Bleu d’Auvergne. The differences tend to be in the type of milk used, including the source, and whether or not it is pasteurized or skimmed in addition to the aging process.

Monday, April 6, 2015

What Makes Cheese Raw?

When you start to take a closer look at the various cheese available on the market, you will quickly notice that some of them are referred to as raw cheese. This can be confusing as there are very few raw cheeses for sale in the United States, meaning that most people are not aware of the differences between raw cheese and standard cheese. The most important thing to know is that the difference comes down to pasteurization.

Pasteurization And The Milk

The simplest way to put the answer to the question what makes cheese raw is that the milk that is it is made from is not pasteurized. Therefore you will find either pasteurized or raw (unpasteurized) cheese. Louis Pasteur invented pasteurization during the mid-19th century. This process involves heating milk (or other liquids) so that the amount of protozoa, yeast, mold, bacteria, and viruses will be reduced. This makes it much safer to eat, especially considering that milk is the ideal environment for many microorganisms due to its lactose content.

Rules For Sale In The U.S.

Because of the increased risk of bacteria and other microorganisms in raw cheese (due to its production with unpasteurized milk), there are restrictions for its sale and production in the United States. That means that any raw cheese purchased in the U.S. must have been aged at least 60 days, whether it was produced domestically or internationally. The idea is that the extra aging time will destroy harmful bacteria, but the number of days (60) is arbitrary. This rule means that certain raw milk cheeses that are aged for two weeks, like Camembert, may only be brought into the U.S. as pasteurized varieties.

Flavor And Texture

Compared to a typical pasteurized cheese, raw cheese tends to have a certain uniqueness. This includes well-defined flavors as well as complexity. You can find raw cheese in any shape, such as blocks or wheels, and a range of textures, including crumbly, creamy, oozy, and firm. It all depends on the specific ingredients and production process, just like with pasteurized cheese.

Famous Raw Cheeses

If you have ever had a true Parmigiano Reggiano or Camembert, then you will have already experienced raw cheese. The best way to find raw cheese in the United States is to look for a specialty cheese retailer as they should have a larger variety of options on hand. Just keep in mind that if you live in the U.S., any raw cheese you find will have been aged for at least 60 days.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Cheesy Recipes To Keep You Warm During The Winter

Although cheese is always a delicious addition to any meal or snack, it truly shines during the colder winter months. This time of the year, the fat content and protein of the cheese helps you stay warm. Best of all, you can find plenty of recipes with melted cheese that help keep you physically warm due to the gooey, warm cheese. You can create your own recipe, but always be sure you select a cheese that can melt well, like cheddar, mozzarella, Gouda, Gruyere, or provolone.

Cheesy Pasta Bake

A simple twist on everyone’s favorite pasta dish is to add a bit of cheese and cook the pasta in the oven. You can select your favorite noodles, add some meat, and pick a great cheese.

Cheesy Potato

If you are short on time, but still want a warm winter dish with cheese, then take the classic baked potato and throw in some cheese. Best of all, the cheese will help keep extra ingredients, such as broccoli, onions, or meat, in place so they don’t slip off while the potato is cooking.


It is true that people love cheeseburgers all throughout the year, but they are especially delicious in the winter months because of their warmth and flavor. Instead of opting for plain American cheese on your next cheeseburger, try adding extra flavor with some extra sharp or flavored cheddar or something a bit more unusual, like Gouda.

Blue Cheese Soup

During the cold, winter months, soup quickly becomes a comfort food. You can make a hearty soup to have as a meal or eat it with a grilled cheese sandwich. The great thing about soup is that you can make it with any cheese you want. Melty ones like blue cheese make a delicious base for your soup, while even cheeses that don’t melt, like feta, can be sprinkled on top.

Cheese Souffle

When you have a lot of time on your hands and want to test your cooking skills, then consider making a warm twice-baked cheese souffle. This recipe involves making a standard cheese souffle divided into multiple ramekins. Then you let them set overnight before taking each mini-souffle out of the ramekins and arranging them in an oven-safe dish to bake again with some extra Gruyere and cream.

Macaroni And Cheese

Perhaps one of the easiest and most popular cheesy recipes that will keep you warm in the winter is macaroni and cheese. Instead of making it from a box, try creating your own recipe or finding one online. This is a great way to use your favorite cheese and you can even go with baked macaroni and cheese with a breadcrumb crust for something unique.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What Is The Difference Between Aged Swiss And Baby Swiss?

Swiss cheese is one of the most popular types of cheese found in the United States and this term typically refers to Swiss Emmental cheese. The standard Swiss cheese sold in the U.S. is known for its pale, yellow, and shiny appearance with a distinctive holes spread throughout it. Swiss cheese forms without a rind and goes well with salami, prosciutto ham, grapes, pears, and apples. While most people simply recognize Swiss cheese in general, there are actually several different varieties of it, most notable baby Swiss and aged Swiss.

Understanding Swiss Cheese

Before you can start to understand the differences between baby and aged Swiss, it helps to know a bit more about Swiss cheese. The majority of this cheese will have the distinctive holes, which are referred to as eyes. If it doesn’t have the holes, it is considered “blind.” The general rule of thumb is that the larger the holes in Swiss cheese, the stronger flavor it has. Interestingly enough, there were restrictions within the United States concerning the size of the holes in Swiss cheese in 2000, thought to be due to the slicing process.


The biggest difference between baby Swiss and aged Swiss is the amount of time that it has been aged for. Standard Swiss cheese is aged for four months to more than a year so an aged Swiss will mature for a time that fits within the higher end of this spectrum, typically nine months or two years. Baby Swiss, on the other hand, is only aged for several months. Aged Swiss is produced following the typical recipe, while baby Swiss has a unique variation including not only a shorter curing time, but also differences in temperature and acidity.

Hole Size

As mentioned earlier, the longer a Swiss cheese ages, the larger its holes will be. As such, baby Swiss has very small holes because of its aging time. Aged Swiss, on the other hand, tends to have very large holes due to its longer aging process.


Both aged and baby Swiss cheeses tend to have a flavor that is fruity or nutty to a small extent. The strength of the general flavor depends on the age of the cheese. As such, you can expect aged Swiss to have a flavor that is described as mild to strong while baby Swiss would be described as mild.

Standard Uses

Baby Swiss is a common ingredient in snacks, sandwiches, appetizers, fondue, quiche, and pasta. Aged cheese also has excellent melting properties, allowing it to be used for similar dishes, including baked dishes, hot cheese sandwiches, fondue, and cold sandwiches.

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