Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pairing Cheese With Chocolate For A Sweet Treat

When most people are trying to figure out what to pair with cheese, they simply go straight for the wine. Despite wine and cheese being a classic combination, there are plenty of other delicious duos you can make featuring cheese. When you are locating for a sweet treat or to use cheese as part of your dessert, consider pairing it with chocolate. Here are some guidelines to help you get started making these pairings.

Portions Of Each

The first thing to think about when pairing cheese and chocolate is how much of each item you want to have on hand. Remember that chocolate will easily overpower other flavors and because of this, you will want to make sure there is significantly more cheese than chocolate. Most experts suggest serving twice as much cheese compared to the amount of chocolate you have on hand when making a pairing.

Consider Textures

The next thing to keep in mind is texture. Since both cheese and chocolate are food items, they will both have physical textures, something that is not true when pairing cheese with a beverage. Your goal should be to find chocolate that has a texture which contrasts with that of the cheese. If you have a cheese which is crumble or soft, for example, then find chocolate with a crunch, such as toffee, espresso beans, or caramels covered in chocolate.

General Rules Based On Cheese

When you are just starting off with pairing cheese and chocolate, simply knowing the above information is not always enough. To help you, there are some general guidelines based on the type of cheese you are serving. Soft ripened cheese (from any type of milk) is usually more aggressive, acidic, and pungent, making it better for milk or dark chocolate. Aged cheeses tend to have a crunchy texture and less acidic, nutty flavor, meaning they go well with chocolate filled with honey, maple, or almonds. Because blue cheese is sharp and pungent, it can help enhance the undertones in dark chocolate. If you want a range of cheeses, opt for caramels or truffles as their butter and dairy tones make them work with most cheeses. Remember that experimentation is key to finding the perfect matches.

Pairing Ideas

If you are truly lost, then it can help to have a few specific pairings of particular cheeses with their ideal chocolates. Try pairing a dark chocolate English toffee with some aged Gouda. Another good choice is aged Cheddar with caramel apples dipped in chocolate. If you want to really show off your pairing skills, take aged Parmesan and some dark chocolate and then find a nice oatmeal stout to drink.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How Mold Helps Cheese

When most people think of mold, they picture something unwanted that is growing on their food. Most of the time, if your food has mold on it, you will have to throw it out or cut off the moldy bit. On cheese, however, mold is not always a bad thing, depending on the type of mold it is. In reality, both mold and bacteria are crucial to cheesemaking, but they are particular types of these substances. In many cases, people will refer to them as beneficial mold and bacteria to avoid confusion.

Bacteria In Cheese

Before understanding the relationship between mold and cheese, it helps to know about the role of bacteria in cheese. In reality, your favorite types of cheese (like mozzarella and cheddar) use beneficial bacteria to develop their texture and taste. The bacteria found in most cheese comes from the lactose found in milk. These bacteria are then cultured to grow and it is this process which creates the cheese we enjoy eating.

Blue Cheese

Although bacteria and mold are not the same thing, they are closely related and if there are beneficial bacteria, it stands to reason that there is also beneficial mold. This is most commonly found in blue cheese and in fact, all of the blue veins on the cheese are areas of mold growth. All of the mold found within blue cheese was developed by encouraging Penicillium bacteria to grow. It is usually introduced right after curds are put into containers where they drain and create a wheel of cheese, although other cheese that include the purposeful growth of mold may add the Penicillium bacteria at a different point.

Encouraging Mold Growth

If you take a look at your favorite blue cheese, you will notice that the blue segments appear in veins. These are the result of needling, the process in which wheels of (soon-to-be) blue cheese are pierced by a machine or by hand, creating many tiny openings. These openings give air a path to enter the cheese where it feeds the mold, allowing it to grow and create green or blue veins that give the blue cheese their name.

The mold which is most commonly added to blue cheese is known as Penicillium Roqueforti and gets its name from Roquefort, French. This town has many caves where Penicillium mold spores naturally occur. As such, it is no surprise that the blue cheese made from these spores, known as Roquefort, originated in the town.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Getting Creative With Macaroni And Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is a delicious meal or side dish and is incredibly easy to make. You can buy boxed mixes that include the noodles and a cheese mixture, probably with a bunch of artificial flavors or you can make your own macaroni and cheese from scratch. Whenever you choose to make it from scratch, you will end up with a more flavorful, and probably nutritious, dish. Whether you are using your favorite mix or making your mac and cheese from your favorite recipe, there are plenty of ways to take this simple dish and make it exciting.

Changing The Cheese

Typically, people will make macaroni and cheese with cheddar or American cheese. If you want to get creative, you can either swap these cheeses out for another one or add in a few of your favorites. Just be sure that you pick a cheese that will actually melt. Cheeses which are known for their ability to melt in a smooth and flowing manner include Cheddar, Asiago, Muenster, Gouda, blue cheese, Monterey Jack, Harvati, Gruyere, Fontina, Emmentaler, and soft-ripened cheeses, but remember that the rind of cheese won’t melt so if you are using Camembert or Brie, you should remove it first.

Changing The Noodle

When most people think of mac and cheese, they picture a hearty dish featuring elbow macaroni. While that is a great option, you can actually use any type of noodle you want. Try to stick to smaller noodles, although if you are really adventurous you could try spaghetti. Most people, however, would recommend sticking to options like rotini, penne, shells, cavatappi, farfalle, campanelle, or orecchiette. If you want to make a truly interesting dish to show off your creativity, combine some of your favorite types of noodles.

Adding Extra Ingredients

To truly let the creativity flow when making macaroni and cheese, try throwing in some extra ingredients. Cut up hot dogs are a popular option, but you can also make classy combinations of macaroni and cheese, including ones that would impress at an adult dinner party. If you want to make your dish with blue cheese, try throwing in some buffalo sauce and smoked chicken. Or to give your dish an Italian flair, make it with mozzarella cheese, basil, roasted tomato, and roasted garlic. An upscale option would be to take a basic macaroni and cheese with Swiss cheese and add parsley, bacon, and mussels. When it comes to adding ingredients or coming up with combinations, simply think of your favorite cheese dish and then try mixing some of those ingredients to create macaroni and cheese that is reminiscent of that plate.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Delicious Variations Of Baked Brie

Brie is one of the most popular cheeses as it makes for a very elegant dish. You simply pop it in the oven for a little bit and you are ready to serve a delicious, gooey cheese that is perfect for any cheese tasting party, snack, dinner, or even dessert. While plain Brie is delicious, so are these more creative ways to serve it.

With Fruit

One of the easiest ways to vary your baked brie is to add a bit of fruit to it, either before or after you bake it. Try adding some cranberries and figs to the top of the Brie before popping it into the oven. Or you can top it with cold figs (and honey) after it comes out of the oven. Other fruity flavors that go well with baked Brie include strawberries, blueberries, and pears.

With Nuts

Another great choice is to add some nuts to the Brie. Usually when you add nuts, however, you will also want to add some sort of liquid or moist topping, such as a pecan praline sauce. You can also top the Brie with a bit of pumpkin butter and then sprinkle walnuts on top of it or sprinkle on pecans after adding maple syrup.

With Condiments

Brie is the perfect shape to hold a bit of liquid, which means it is incredibly easy to add condiments to the top of it to create your own variation. Any liquid from compote to maple syrup to honey will do well. One of the best types of condiments, however, is jelly as this is easy to find and comes in limitless flavors.

With Savory Flavors

If you don’t want to add a bit of sweetness to your Brie, you can also bake it with some savory ingredients. Try baking in some thyme and sundried tomatoes or mushrooms. This option is easy as the cheese will naturally melt right around the mushrooms, keeping them in place.

With Crust

To change the presentation of your Brie a bit, you can also give it an edible crust with your favorite puffed pastry or phyllo dough. If you are really ambitious, try stuffing the Brie inside a vegetable before baking it. Artichokes work very well for this as they will create a natural and edible serving bowl for the Brie.

On A Stick

If you want to turn baked Brie into a pre-portioned and portable appetizer, then consider baking it onto a stick. This may sound odd at first, but it is actually fairly simple and only involves wrapping the Brie (and maybe some jam or other ingredients) in pastry dough in bite-sized pieces and inserting a stick for portability.

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.

Cheeseburgers

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.

Age

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.

Flavor

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.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What Is The Best Cheese For A Frittata?

Frittatas are one of the most delicious dishes to serve no matter the time of the day. They use ingredients that you tend to already have on hand, such as cheese, onion, eggs, herbs, and spices. Best of all, the dish is incredibly easy to make as you simply spend a few minutes prepping, then pop it into the oven and are ready to eat. The question then becomes which cheese goes best in a frittata. To some extent, the answer will be personal opinion, but there are some things to consider.

Basic Frittata Recipe

For a basic frittata, you will preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. While it is heating, slice up an onion, some green scallions, a clove of garlic, and whatever herbs you want to include. Crack a dozen eggs in a bowl, adding in a few handfuls of your favorite grated cheese, salt, pepper, and your chopped herbs and scallions. Stir everything together and saute the onion and garlic in a frying pan. Add your egg mixture to the pan and cook it for between ten and fifteen minutes, then sprinkle on some more cheese. Then place your frittata in the oven for five or ten minutes and voila.

Popular Choices

Cheese forms a large portion of the frittata recipe, as it is not only part of the main mixture, but also used as a topping. As mentioned earlier, the best cheese to use will mostly come down to personal preference. Cheddar is a popular choice since it melts well and everyone has it on hand. People also enjoy using ricotta, feta, and goat’s cheese. In reality, as long as the cheese melts well and matches the dish in terms of flavor, it will go well in a frittata.

Considering Melt

When figuring out which cheese to try in your next frittata, be sure to consider its melting properties, especially if you are trying out a new recipe or creating your own. Swiss cheese and Gruyere both melt incredibly well and Camembert is also known for its melting properties. When shredded, cheddar and will melt reasonably well, making it a good choice for frittatas. Mozzarella, on the other hand, is delicious, but tends to melt in strings, something most people won’t necessarily want in their frittata. Instead, try to select a cheese with higher moisture content as these will have the best melting properties to give you a uniform melt without stringy cheese.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Top Cheeses To Add To Your Gift Basket

Finding the right holiday gift can sometimes be a challenge, but cheese makes the perfect present for almost anyone. No matter their age, gender, or occupation, the majority of people love cheese and will enjoy it in a variety of ways, including plain, with crackers, or cooked into a delicious meal. When you decide to create a gift basket for someone, there are multiple cheeses you can add; you simply have to decide what sort of theme you would like to go with.

Cheddar

Perhaps one of the most popular cheeses to include in a gift basket is cheddar. It is hard enough to stay outside of the refrigerator for the time it takes to give your gift basket and the present receiver to take it home. Best of all, while most people are familiar with cheddar in general, they haven’t tried all there is to offer. If you include a sampling of cheddar of different ages (or sharpness levels), including a really sharp, old cheddar, you will be giving a gift basket that includes something the person knows they love as well as something new to try.

Cheese Curds

Cheese curds are another top cheese to add to a gift basket and this is for two reasons: the variety available and trying new things. Unless you live in a certain area of the country, you probably haven’t tried cheese curds before so by including them in a gift basket, you let your friend or family member enjoy a completely new type of cheese. The other great thing is that there are many different types of cheese curds and while they are almost always cheddar, they have a range of flavors, such as ranch and chives, buffalo wing, bacon and horseradish, dill, jalapeno, and more. This means you can select cheese curds of the particular flavor your friend will most enjoy or create a combination.

A Themed Assortment

While cheddar and/or cheese curds can work well as part of any gift basket, you may also want to create a themed basket. In this case, you will need to pick your theme and then pick the cheese accordingly. If, for example, you want an Italian themed basket, consider getting grated parmesan, fresh mozzarella, and provolone. For an exclusive-themed box that aims to include cheeses they probably have not tried before, select rare options such as super aged cheddar or super aged swiss. Or you can simply stick to traditional favorites when it comes to cheese, such as cheddar, Swiss, and Colby Jack, all of normal ages and sharpness.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tricks To Properly Serving Cheese

Whether you are hosting an event or party or simply want to spice up your dinner, serving cheese can make a great deal of sense. You can serve as much or as little cheese as you want and it does just as well as an appetizer as a snack or dessert. Follow these tricks and you will be a pro at serving cheese.

What To Serve

When you serve cheese, you don’t want to serve it all by itself. You will need a variety of cheeses in addition to small slices of bread or crackers and some small accompanying snacks as well. You should generally select a soft cheese, a firm one (like Swiss, Cheddar, or Gruyere), and a blue cheese. Your goal is to have a range of textures and flavors on display. Snack ideas include nuts, fruits, vegetables, cured meats, and jams.

Quantities To Serve

The biggest question some people have about serving cheese is how much to provide. If the cheese is going to be the main appetizer at your party, then aim to get three pounds of cheese for every eight people that will be present. If, however, you will have multiple appetizers, having just three or four ounces per person on hand should be enough.

Knives For Serving

To truly serve cheese like a professional, you need to know which types of knives to use as well. Easily cut off a cheese wedge from the wheel with a sharp cook’s knife after dipping the knife in hot water and wiping it. Put either a cheese knife or any small, sharp knife on the tray for cutting harder cheese and a pate or butter knife for soft ones. Remember that you need to give each cheese its own knife so flavors don’t mix.

Spreading Out The Cheese

If you buy a cheese platter from your local supermarket, chances are the cheese is all thinly sliced and stacked on top of each other or layered. While this works for budget cheese, to create a nice presentation, you need to follow some different advice. Don’t layer the different cheeses on top of each other as this will cause their flavors to mix. If you have a larger quantity of cheese, considering spreading it out among several different trays. This prevents the feeling of crowding, both on the tray and from guests trying to get to their favorite slices. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tips For Freezing Your Cheese

If you recently found a great deal on your favorite cheese, then you will be glad to know that it is completely safe to freeze cheese. You can thaw and then eat almost any frozen cheese, although you should expect the texture to be slightly different. These tips can help you get the best out of your frozen cheese.

Freeze For Later Cooking

Because freezing cheese tends to change the texture of it, it is ideal to only freeze it if you plan to use it for cooking. You can still eat the cheese by itself after you thaw it out, but it will probably be crumbly. The flavor will luckily still be the same, even if the texture is different. Instead, consider freezing the cheese you will use in casseroles, soups, and sauces.

Ideal Cheese To Freeze

The best types of cheese to freeze tend to be firmer, with Swiss, Gouda, and cheddar being the ideal examples. You can also freeze Romano, Provolone, Port du Salut, Parmesan, Muenster, Mozzarella, Edam, and Camembert. Soft cheese, on the other hand, doesn’t freeze as well, so although you may get away with freezing a block of cream cheese that you plan to cook with, you should otherwise avoid freezing cream cheese, ricotta, or cottage cheese.

Packaging And Freezing

The goal of freezing cheese is to slow down the process of bacterial growth and in order to do so, you need to ensure that the cold from the freezer reaches every area of the cheese. Most experts suggest that you don’t freeze cheese in blocks that are bigger than a half pound each.

When you freeze a hard cheese (like Swiss or cheddar), you can reasonably keep it in the freezer for up to six months and the same is true even of soft cheeses like Brie. Before putting the cheese in the freezer, wrap it up using resealable freezer bags, plastic wrap, or some other material that is moisture-proof.

Thawing And Using The Cheese

When it comes time to thaw out your cheese, you will simply leave the wrapper on and move the cheese to your refrigerator until it thaws. You need to use this newly thawed cheese within two to three days to take full advantage of it. Keep in mind that it will be hard to slice frozen cheese, but you can easily grate it. As such, if you plan on using the cheese as slices, slice it before freezing, but feel free to store it in chunks if you plan on grating it.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Smart Tips For Buying Your Cheese Online

It used to be that if you didn’t have a quality cheese retailer close to your home, you were stuck buying your cheese from your local grocery store. While at least there are some choices in the supermarket, the selection is nothing like what you would find from a specialty shop and neither is the quality. Now, the internet has helped fill in the gap and no matter where you live, you can find an online cheese store that will ship to you, giving you the chance to try new and creative cheeses.

Pay Attention To Shipping Times

When you plan on buying your cheese online, always pay close attention to shipping times. The majority of online retailers will offer delivery for within one or two days. In some cases this will be the only delivery option and sometimes there will be other options for hard or less-perishable cheeses. If a cheese retailer doesn’t at least offer two-day (or less) shipping, then skip them and move on as there is no guarantee you will receive your cheese before it goes bad.

Pay Attention To Packaging

Just like shipping times, the packaging method of an online cheese store can indicate how good (or bad) it is. The majority will use some type of insulated packaging and include an ice pack or similar object inside to keep the cheese cold. This is the ideal method as it ensures the cheese stays in a refrigerator-like environment until it arrives. As long as the company doesn’t simply put cheese in a regular box without any special labels, it should be fine.

Find A Knowledgeable Retailer

It is common to be a bit overwhelmed by the wide selection of cheese available online. The good news is that just like physical cheese shops keep experts on hand to help customers, so do some of the best online retailers. The best ones will have a contact form or customer service line where you can talk to an expert and get expert feedback as well as help selecting your ideal cheese.

Take Advantage Of Selection

Even if you choose to order cheese online to get standard items (such as cheddar or mozzarella) because you don’t have a nearby grocery store, try to take advantage of the incredible selection online. You will see unique flavors and cheeses that you have never tried before, from super aged cheddar to flavored cheddar cheese curds to classic Italian cheese or even fresh mozzarella. Do your best to try at least one new cheese every time you order, even if it is just a small quantity, or get a sampler platter. As long as you are already ordering cheese online, you might as well try something new and take advantage of the selection.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

How To Use Cheese In Appetizers This Holiday Season

Cheese is a delicious addition to almost any meal, no matter the time of day or the time of the year. That means that when it comes to holiday dishes, cheese can play a central role, whether you are talking about the main dish or the appetizers. Here are just some delicious ways to use cheese in your holiday appetizers.

Classic Cheese Tray

Perhaps the easiest way to use cheese in appetizers during the holiday season is to create a classic cheese tray. Try to select three or four cheeses with a variety of textures, flavors, and sharpness. Remember to include crackers, chips, or something similar to eat with the cheese and add some fruit and/or nuts for additional flavor combinations.

Almond Crusted Brie

If you want to actually make something for the appetizer instead of simply making a festive cheese tray, try almond crusted brie. It may sound intimidating, but is actually fairly simple. Preheat your oven while completely covering a Brie cheese round with puff pastry. Brush on some egg, sprinkle on some almonds, and bake your Brie. At the end, drizzle on some pureed raspberries and serve your appetizer.

Cheese Balls

A simple option for a handheld cheese appetizer is a cheese ball. Mix together your favorite cheeses (such as cream cheese, feta, and shredded sharp Cheddar) with some Worcestershire sauce and onion using a mixer. Once this is fluffy, let it sit in the fridge for eight hours before shaping it into a ball and rolling in some parsley. Serve it with crackers like you would a standard piece of cheese.

Cheese Dips

Those looking for a simple way to ensure cheese is the focal point of the appetizer without involving too many other ingredients can try to make a cheese dip. You can either get creative or find a recipe you enjoy. To keep it simple, simply melt three or four of your favorite cheeses together (try cream cheese, sour cream, and shredded semi-soft cheeses such as Havarti or Gouda) plus some seasoning. Or to let your creativity shine and truly impress your guests, mix some blue cheese with caramelized apples, pecans, and other ingredients for flavoring. Another delicious choice is to make a nutty cheese spread incorporating fruit chutney on top.

Cheese Bread

A final option is to make some cheese bread as an appetizer. To make this appetizer even easier so you can focus on creating the main dishes, buy some biscuit making mix and throw in butter, milk, egg, minced onion, chopped parsley, and the secret ingredient: shredded Cheddar cheese, as sharp as you want.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How To Serve The Best Cheese Tray

No matter what type of event you are hosting, a cheese tray can be an excellent addition. Cheese trays are versatile as you can include as many different types of cheese you want, including your particular favorites. It is a great chance to tempt the tastebuds of your guests before the meal is served, making it a classic option for appetizers. Keep the following things in mind and you will have no problem serving the best cheese tray.

Selecting Cheeses

When you pick the cheeses for your tray, aim to select at least three or four different options. You want as wide of a range of flavors and textures that you can find. This means you should include some blue cheeses, some soft ones, some hard ones, and some aged ones. Always be sure to include one cheese (at least) that your guests will already know and love and don’t be afraid to buy sheep or goat cheese as well.

What Else To Include

Most of the time, your guests won’t want to eat cheese all by itself, unless it is a bite-sized morsel such as cheddar cube or a cheese curd. Even then, it is a good idea to have crackers, bread sticks, and sliced baguettes on the tray to eat with the cheese. As with the cheese, opt for bread and crackers of different flavors and textures. Also consider including chutneys, nuts, or fresh fruit and vegetables to complement the cheese.

Use Labels

While you may not need to label basic cheeses, such as cheddar or mozzarella, it is a good idea to label all unusual or potentially unfamiliar cheeses on your tray. Either put the label directly on the tray or place a labeled diagram of the cheese tray off to one side. This way when guests enjoy a new flavor and want more, they know what it is called.

Preparation

When getting ready to serve your cheese tray, you need to take the cheese out of the refrigerator ahead of time. Almost every cheese tastes best at room temperature as the cold will subdue the flavor. This means you should start let them sit outside of the fridge for an hour before organizing the tray or serving it.

Presentation

When it comes to serving your cheese tray, the presentation is completely up to you. Try to include labels, as mentioned above. Be sure that your tray includes one knife per cheese, particularly the soft or spreadable ones. Also make sure that strong-smelling cheeses are on a separate plate as this will prevent the flavor from overpowering the other options.

Friday, February 20, 2015

How To Host A Cheese And Wine Tasting Party For New Year’s Eve

Wine and cheese parties are one of the most classic types of gatherings due to their versatility and fun. This is a great chance for you and your guests to try new types of wine and cheese, finding new favorites. Having your party on New Year’s Eve is even better as you don’t have to worry about it going too long or drinking too much wine - after all, everyone wants to be up until midnight or later anyway.

Formal Vs Informal

The first thing you have to decide is if you want your cheese and wine tasting party to be formal or informal. A formal party will typically be a sit-down affair. You will prepare plates of cheese with various glasses of wine and have them planned out, including which order to serve them in. Formal parties usually include breaks for discussion of each item between courses.

Informal cheese and wine tasting parties tend to be stand-up affairs and better for larger crowds. You would simply arrange various cheeses on platters with labels indicating their names, origins, and suggested pairings. Do the same for the wines at another station. You can either keep the cheese in one area and the wine in another or spread them throughout the space based on suggested pairings.

Select A Range Of Each

One of the most important aspects of hosting a cheese and wine tasting parties on New Year’s Eve is making sure that there is enough variety. You want to have at least three or four different cheeses and the same number of wines on hand. Make sure that there are cheeses of different ages, firmness, textures, and flavors. Don’t forget to include snacks such as fruit and nuts to cleanse the palate and help soak up some of the wine.

Considering Pairings

Perhaps the most stressful part of hosting a party for tasting wine and cheese is figuring out the pairings. Either ask an expert or find some guidelines online. Fresh cheese, such as ricotta, feta, mozzarella, goat cheese, and burrata, for example do best with wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. If you want to keep it simple, then opt for a dry red or white wine. Champagne will work with most cheese as well, making it perfect for New Year’s Eve. Keep in mind, however, that there are no hard rules when it comes to cheese pairings. As long as guests are happy, they can eat whichever cheese with any of the wines on offer.

Have Guests Bring Items

A great idea to take some of the stress out of hosting a cheese and wine tasting party (especially on a big night like New Year’s Eve) is to ask your guests to bring some of the items. Either select a theme (such as a region the items should be from) or let them bring whatever they want. Just be sure that you divide up who brings cheese and who brings wine so there is enough of each.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How Is American Cheese Different Than In Other Countries?

Cheese is a nearly universal food as it can be found throughout the world. An interesting thing to note, however, is that when you look at cheese made in the United States and that made in Europe, there are actually several very important differences. While all cheese is delicious, if you want to become familiar with all types of cheese, it helps to understand these variations.

Cheese Known As “American Cheese”

The first thing to consider is what exactly is meant by American cheese. This term typically refers to a particular style of cheese, but it can also simply mean cheese that is produced and sold in the United States. The following paragraphs will talk about cheese made in America, but it is important to also consider the style of American cheese. This cheese tends to be processed and either white, yellow, or orange. The traditional recipe included a combination of cheddar, colby, and other cheeses, but today a great deal of “American cheese” is simply a “cheese product” as it doesn’t contain enough cheese to be classified as cheese.

Added Ingredients

When looking at cheese produced in the United States, you will notice that it typically contains more additives and extra ingredients, such as colorings and preservatives than the European alternatives. In fact, the typical Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese found in the United States, for example, contains, cheese cultures, potassium sorbate, and cellulose powder, none of which you will find in the European version of this cheese.

Pasteurized Milk

Another difference between American cheeses and international ones is the type of milk that is used. Because of safety concerns, mainly those related to bacteria, the vast majority of American cheese is made using pasteurized milk as this process reduces the risk of bacterial growth. In fact, it can be nearly impossible to find a “raw cheese” which is made with unpasteurized milk in the United States. Other countries, however, tend to offer both types of cheese as there is a demand for both and they have accepted that the production and aging process helps reduce the risk of any bacteria-related problems.

Meaning Behind The Name

Perhaps the biggest difference between American made cheese and those made around the world, and the one that has recently got the most attention on the news, is the name of the product. In Europe, the name of a particular cheese refers to where it originated. This means that if you buy Parmigiano-Reggiano in Europe, it will have been made in the Emilia-Romagna area of Italy. If you buy it in the United States, however, it is simply made to imitate this particular Italian cheese. While names such as Gruyere and Asiago refer to styles of cheese in the U.S., they refer to the style of cheese as well as where it was produced.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Gluten-Free Cheesy Recipes For The Holidays

Just because you are allergic to gluten or choose to be gluten-free doesn’t mean you will have to miss out on all of your favorite holiday treats. From main dishes to appetizers to desserts, you can easily make gluten-free versions of your favorite cheesy recipes. Here are just some holiday ideas to get you started.

Macaroni And Cheese

Since the holidays are during winter, something warm and comforting like macaroni and cheese is the perfect way to stay warm. The secret for this dish is to use some potato starch and gluten-free puffed-rice cereal to supplement gluten-free pasta, letting it keep the texture. The traditional cheese for this dish would be cheddar, but you can get creative too. You can even make a baked macaroni and cheese with similar ingredients, but by adding cottage cheese and gluten-free “bread” crumbs.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Winter is a great time for cheesecake and just because Thanksgiving already passed doesn’t mean it’s too late eat pumpkin. You can make a delicious gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake with a crust made from almond meal, crushed almonds, white sugar, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and butter. As with any cheesecake, this recipe relies on sour cream and cream cheese as the cheese component, making a delicious, cheese-filled holiday dessert.

Holiday Pizza

This gluten-free recipe is delicious enough to eat year round and while pizza traditionally uses mozzarella cheese, you can let your creativity flow and try some goat cheese, parmesan, or even cheddar. The secret to making this cheesy dish a success is making your own gluten-free pizza dough. Boil potatoes and put them through a ricer. Combine yeast, agave, and water together so it foams, then add in your potatoes along with a bit of salt, tapioca starch, and rice flour. mix together, then add oil and egg whites, let it sit in a warm spot, and you will have gluten-free pizza dough. To make this particular pizza ready for the holidays, pick festive toppings, such as red and green peppers and you can even arrange them in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Bacon Cheese Appetizer Squares

Don’t let the gluten-eating people have all the fun and choices when it comes to appetizers at a holiday party. Instead of sticking to the vegetable platter (minus the dip), make some gluten-free bacon cheese squares. Just use a Gluten Free refrigerated pastry and pie dough and some gluten-free onion and chive cream cheese, throwing in bacon, grape tomatoes, and green onions. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Giving The Gift Of Cheese: What Not To Do

Cheese is one of the best holiday gifts you can give, despite being a bit unconventional. It is versatile enough to offer something for everyone, easy to find, and delicious to eat. While it is easy to give cheese as a gift, there are some things you should avoid doing.

Don’t Forget About Refrigeration

If you are going to give cheese as a present, keep refrigeration in mind. Unless you are bringing the cheese right from your refrigerator to someone else’s within a few hours, it is probably best to stick to hard cheeses as they won’t go bad as quickly. Or give soft cheeses, but include a discrete ice pack or cooling system of some sort to keep it fresh.

Don’t Forget About Safety Risks

While cheese is delicious, not all cheese is safe for everyone to eat. If, for example, you plan to give cheese to a pregnant woman, stick to non-soft cheeses. Soft cheese has a higher risk of listeria, bacteria that can be life-threatening for the baby and the mom-to-be. Also avoid giving cheese to a very small child (under a year), although that’s not usually a thought anyway.

Don’t Forget About Dietary Restrictions

Even though cheese is incredibly delicious, some people will not be able to eat all of it or any of it due to dietary restrictions. Whether it is a medical restriction (such as a milk allergy) or a personal decision (such as being a vegan), be respectful. If someone has a milk allergy, then try giving them a goat cheese instead or some fresh buffalo mozzarella. If they are lactose intolerant, opt for a hard cheese (the older the better) as it will have less lactose due to aging.

Don’t Be Boring

Giving cheese may seem like an easy way out of picking a gift for someone, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Simply going to your local grocery store and buying a chunk of store-brand mozzarella, cheddar, and something else won’t be enough. Instead, use the gift of cheese as an opportunity to have your gift recipient try new things. Order from a specialty cheese retailer and buy something they’ve never tried before, such as flavored cheese curds or a Jurassic cheddar.

Don’t Feel Overwhelmed

The most important thing to avoid when giving cheese is feeling overwhelmed. There are lots of cheeses to pick from and that can make it hard to pick which ones you want to give, let alone worry about presentation. If you feel lost, either get the help of a cheese expert from a specialty cheese store or just buy a pre-packaged cheese gift set. These are affordable and tend to be available in a variety of themes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Four Keys To Serving Cheese With Fruit

Although cheese is traditionally paired with wine, it also goes well with snacks. Whether or not you plan on serving wine with your cheese, consider adding some fruits to your menu for extra flavor and nutrition. As with combining cheese with other items, whether food or beverages, the options are limitless, but these key tips can help you create the perfect combinations.

Ideal Cheese For Fruit

If you are just looking for the best cheese to serve with some typical fruit you have lying around your home, then it is good to know which options are ideal. Most people have pears, grapes, and apples at home or will pick them for a party. Smooth and buttery cheeses, such as Edam, Gouda, and Havarti go well with this type of fruit, particularly sweeter pears or apples. Munster also works well with sweet apples and grapes. For something a bit richer, try Gruyere with apples or Asiago with tart apples or grapes, or plums.

Ideal Fruit Spreads For Cheese

Depending on the time of the year that you plan on serving your cheese, you may find the selection of fresh fruit somewhat limited. In this case, you can look for some great fruit spreads. If you have a sharp white cheddar, try getting some Chutney. Italian Mostarda works well with Parmigiano, Pecorino, or Gouda. You can even try quince paste, spiced apples, or a fig spread depending on the type of cheese you are serving.

Picking Fresh Fruits

Although fruit spreads are a delicious combination with cheese, it is always a good idea to select at least a few fresh fruits whenever you have the opportunity. Simply select whatever is fresh and in season as these items will be the most flavorful. Aim to have three to five different fruits (and a similar number of cheeses), such as pears, apples, kiwi, melon, cantaloupe, strawberries, or grapes.

Arranging The Tray

When creating your presentation of cheese and fruit, most people will typically put all items on one tray, and this is fine as long as you take care to keep juicy fruits (such as kiwi) away from the cheese so people only mix them together if they choose. Try arranging grapes in small groups of four, cut the cheese into small, bite-size pieces, and have harder or larger fruits in serving sizes. Try to keep toothpicks or similar items on hand for people to use to eat their selection and remember to have a different serving utensil for each cheese and fruit.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Five Of The Best Ways To Finish A Meal With Cheese

When most people think of cheese, they picture a snack or perhaps part of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. in reality, however, cheese is much more versatile than this and you can easily end your meal with cheese. This works just as well as a dessert replacement as it does as an addition to your dessert.

By Itself

The easiest way to finish a meal with cheese is to simply serve the cheese by itself as a dessert. When following this method, most people typically prefer a creamy cheese due to the dessert-like texture, although any type will do. Some of the best options for a cheese dessert are Roquefort, Winnimere, Pecorino, Capricious, and Chevre. The classic dessert plate with cheese will include a blue cheese, a creamy cheese, and a hard cheese. You can also try alternative milk cheeses, such as one sheep cheese, one goat cheese, and one cow cheese.

Cheese With Fruit

Another option is to take some cheese and pair it with fruit. Soft cheeses in particular do well with a fruit spread, such as chutney or jam. Or you can opt for a variety of harder cheeses and fresh cut fruit for the perfect end to a meal.

Cheese With Wine

Cheese and wine is a classic pairing and for good reason. Wine is a typical drink for the end of the meal, and when combined with cheese, it allows you to appreciate the best elements, flavors, and textures from both items. Either select your favorite wine and pick a cheese to match or vice versa.

Cheese With Dessert

Although it may seem odd, there are actually some desserts that pair perfectly with cheese, giving you an easy way to finish a meal with cheese. The classic example is a slice of cheddar cheese on apple pie. Another option is to take lemon tart and add either cheddar or Gruyere. This works in the same way as apple pie and cheddar.  Or try combining black forest cake with blue cheese as the blue cheese’s boldness will cut through the cake’s richness. Even aged goat Gouda cheese goes perfectly with brownies.

Dessert Made From Cheese

A final top method of finishing your meal with cheese is to make a dessert featuring it. The classic example would be cheesecake, but there are actually infinite choices. Cottage cheese, for example, can be part of vanilla pudding or you can make any number of desserts featuring ricotta cheese or mascarpone, such as mousse, tarts, and crepes.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Essentials You Need For Homemade Cheese

People who have tried really good cheese know that the best cheese will be made by an artisan or a smaller company, as there tends to be more attention to detail and better quality ingredients involved. One of the best ways to not only get high quality cheese, but ensure it is fresh and exactly what you want is to make it yourself at home. To get started making homemade cheese, you will need to buy some essentials.

Ingredients

The most important ingredient for homemade cheese is milk. This can be any type of milk you want, including cow’s, sheep’s, or goat’s milk. Decide if you want to use raw or pasteurized milk and you will be set. You will then need to get cheese cultures. Typically, you will use mesophilic cultures for the majority of hard or soft cheeses. Some other cheeses, such as Italian ones or cooked curd cheeses (mozzarella and cottage) use thermophilic cultures. Either type of culture is affordable and will last in the freezer. You also need to get rennet, but keep in mind that vegetable rennet requires half the amount of animal rennet. Finally, you will need to buy some sort of salt. Most experts suggest cheese salt, but others say sea salt is another great option.

Supplies

Luckily, even if you just decided to make homemade cheese for the first time, you probably have most of the supplies on hand. You will need a large pot, ensuring that the metal is non-reactive and that the pot can hold eight quarts at least. You will also need some sort of thermometer to track the temperature, a measuring cup, wooden spoons to stir the cheese, a colander (for draining the curds), some good cheesecloth (high quality is best and reusable), and a cheese press (if making hard cheese). To make life easier, you should also get a notebook to record notes, cheese wax for wrapping your cheese, cheese boards, cheese mats, and a curd knife.

Storage

While you are only active during the cheesemaking phases involving the above ingredients and supplies, most of the cheesemaking is spent waiting for it to age. During this process, you will need to have the right environment for the cheese. Whatever environment you create for your cheese to age in, make sure it has around 70% humidity and a temperature between 55 and 65 Fahrenheit. If you are lucky, you may be able to make a cheese cave or you can convert a wine refrigerator. To keep the right humidity levels, keep a glass or bowl of cool water in the fridge. If you don’t have another option, you can also age cheese in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer, but this take a bit more preparation.

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