Sunday, July 16, 2017

How Does The Aging Process Affect Different Cheddar Flavors?

Cheddar cheese just may be America’s favorite type of cheese. Used for grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and many other dishes, it is an all-around basic cheese. There are several levels of flavor in cheddar, and much of that difference is in the aging process. The longer the cheddar is aged, the sharper the flavor grows.
General Aging Timelines
Mild cheddar is generally aged for two or three months. Medium cheddar can be aged anywhere from four to eight months, although some can go as long as a year. Sharp cheddar sits for between one and two years, while extra-sharp cheddar is aged for two years or more. Some prime cheddars are aged as long as six years.
What Happens During Aging
As a cheese ages, the microbes and enzymes that are used to achieve the curdling of the milk target the milk fat molecules and the casein, a milk protein. As these two components are broken down, they become amino and amines acids along with fatty acids. The proportions of these two elements affect the cheese’s texture as it ages. The longer cheddar ages, the drier and more crumbly it becomes. It also becomes sharper in taste. Cheddars that are aged for only a short time are very mild in flavor and pliable in texture. These mild cheddars are often preferred for sandwiches as they are easier to slice. As the milk proteins and fats break down during the aging process, the cheddar dries, becomes much stronger in flavor and more crumbly. They also produce calcium lactate crystals. Some people enjoy the crunchy texture of these crystals.
How Storing Impacts Flavor
How the cheddar is stored during the aging process also has an effect on the flavor. Cheddar can be bandage wrapped or it can be allowed to generate a natural rind. Each of these processes will create different flavors even if every block of cheddar was made from the same batch and aged for the same length of time. One isn’t better than the other—except to individual taste buds—they are simply different. The wrapped or rinded cheddars have an earthier flavor to them. Appropriately enough, cheesecloth is often used to wrap the cheddar.
Final Influences On Flavor
The balance of moisture content, salt, and starter cultures all affect the cheddar as it ages, therefore impacting the flavor. The source of milk and the location where the cheese is produced also have an effect on the flavor of the cheddar as it ages. With so many variables at play, it is no wonder that cheddar can vary in flavor so greatly.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Does New York Cheese Stand Out From The Rest?

Cheese is made in many states, with the most prominent one being Wisconsin. California, Idaho, and Vermont are a few of the other states that are among the top cheese manufacturers. New York also makes this delicious dairy product, although it is possibly not as well known for its cheese production as some of the others.
Choosing The Best Cheese
Preference among the many varieties of cheeses is very personal. Each cheese lover is certain that his or her favorite cheese is the very best. This holds true not only of cheese varieties, but also of cheese makers and the origin of the cheese. Each state that is a major cheese producer is sure that theirs is the very best. But if a blind taste test were to be conducted, would you be able to identify a cheese’s state of origin based solely on its taste? Many people think they could.
How New York Cheese Stands Out
If such a test were to be conducted, what would make New York cheeses stand out from all of the other fine cheeses? Just what makes New York cheese special anyway? It is well known that a cow’s (or sheep’s or goat’s) milk is only as good as the feed it consumes. Cows that are fed on rich pasture grass are going to give a better-tasting milk than those that are fed on commercial feeds alone. Better tasting milk translates into better tasting cheese. New York dairy farmers know this, and they ensure that their herds are in the finest pastureland available for grazing.
Healthy cows produce better milk, too. Cheese lovers will be able to tell that New York farmers take the utmost care of their herd, keeping them healthy without the use of, or only minimal use of antibiotics, hormones, and other undesirable treatments. The milk houses are kept immaculate to avoid contamination of the milk. In the same way, the cheese-making facilities are kept spotless. Clean facilities promote the production of the high-quality cheeses for which New York is known.
Tasting The Difference
Best practices are followed for producing the finest cheeses. Cheddars are aged to perfection. Those cheeses that are wrapped or cured in a rind are monitored closely to ensure maximum flavor and quality. Known for their sharp cheddars, New York cheese makers know just how long to age the cheeses to attain that maximum sharpness that is so loved by many aficionados. New York cheese makers take pride in producing cheese that does in fact stand out from the crowd.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Delicious Things To Do With Cheese Curds

Cheese curds are sold in little bags of squeaky goodness and come in a variety of flavors. They are delicious and fun to eat, especially when fresh, but what else can you do with them?
1. Real Canadian Poutine
Possibly the best thing ever created north of the border, Poutine is a traditional dish from the Canadian province of Quebec. This super simple comfort food is the ideal way to eat cheese curds. Next time you're craving French fries and gravy, mix your favorite cheese curds in with the fries before slathering the dish with gravy. Voila! Poutine.
2. Cheese Curd Potato Salad
Another traditional comfort food, potato salad can be made a lot of ways. Every family has a favorite recipe, but they can almost always be made better by adding either plain cheddar curds. If you're brave, try adding some zing to your salad with Cajun or jalapeno cheddar curds.
3. Deep Fried Cheese Curds
You've had deep fried mozzarella sticks, right? Well, they are even better when made with cheese curds. All you have to do is substitute any kind of cheddar cheese curd for the regular mozzarella in the recipe. The big plus is the variety of flavors you can use when you choose cheese curds for this beloved appetizer.
4. Game Day Finger Food
Having a crowd over to watch the game? Switch it up a bit by putting out a few bowls of flavored cheddar cheese curds among the roasted nuts and guacamole. Provide napkins or toothpicks to keep the greasy fingerprints off the remote.
5. Road Trip Nourishment
Delicious, bite-sized cheese curds are the perfect snack to pull out when your passengers get restless on a long road trip. Bring along a few flavors, some napkins and see who can make the biggest squeak!
6. Mexican Lunch Wraps
Substitute your favorite cheese curds for the grated cheese in any lunch wrap recipe. Chop the larger pieces up for maximum chewiness, wrap it all up and enjoy!
7. Salad Topper
Skip the croutons next time you make a Caesar salad and add cheese curds instead. Or why not add them both? The potential for added flavor is only limited by the kind of cheese curds you choose. Just chop it up and top your salad. It's easy and adds some flare to a plain dish.
These are just a few examples of creative ways to spice up your diet with versatile, incredibly tasty cheese curds. A little brainstorming can give you even more options. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

How Cheese Can Enhance Your Soup

Adding cheese is the perfect way to add flavor and creaminess to any kind of soup. Your recipe doesn’t even have to call for it for this ingredient to make a difference. Canned soup, in particular, rises to a whole new level when you add cheese. Whether you choose plain cheddar or one of the many flavored cheeses available, following these few steps will deliver perfect cheese infused soup every time.
Grate Your Cheese
The first essential step to adding cheese to soup is to grate it yourself. Pre-grated cheese has added ingredients that can cause it to clump when it melts. After grating, if you're cooking in a particularly hot kitchen or climate, you can toss a little bit of flour in with your cheese to keep it from sticking together.
When To Add The Cheese
Now that you have the perfect grated cheese, the next trick is to put it in your soup at the right moment. If the flavor of your soup can handle it, you will actually want to add just a touch of lemon juice before adding your cheese. This helps the cheese melt without clumping. Remember that the more liquid your soup base has, the more likely your cheese is to clump. Because of this, you should take additional precautions when necessary.
Regardless of whether you’re making a cheese or water-based soup, taking it off the heat before adding your grated cheese is a must. Make sure your soup is no longer boiling (or even simmering to be safe) before adding small amounts of cheese to the pot at a time. Clumping cheese is bad enough, but adding it to boiling liquid will make the cheese curdle. While curdled cheese isn’t deadly, it takes on a grainy texture that isn’t pleasant to eat.
How To Add The Cheese
Add about a quarter cup of cheese at a time, using a whisk to make sure it’s all incorporated before adding more. Do this quickly, as you want your soup hot enough to melt the cheese. You can put the pot back on the burner, if you need to, but then you run the risk of heating it too much. Remember that soup containing cheese should never boil.
Final Tips
One last trick: If you’re worried about clumping or curdling cheese and you already know how to make a killer cheese sauce, then simply make your sauce first and add it to hot (but not boiling) soup. Ready to give it a try? Take these instructions to the kitchen and get cooking with your favorite cheese.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

What Kind Of Mold Is Involved In Cheese Making?

Depending on the type of cheese that you eat, there will be some mold in it that you don’t need to worry about. While moldy cheese that has been sitting in your fridge for months should probably be tossed, certain types of cheese are actually designed to have mold. Mold will only be involved in cheese making particular cheese varieties and the kind used depends on the cheese in question.
Blue Molds
The most popular kind of cheese that is made with mold is blue cheese. There are two types of blue mold that you will find in blue cheese, regardless of the variety. These are P. glacucum and P. roqueforti. Each of these molds provides the unique texture and flavor you love of blue cheese. The molds can grow in environments with very low oxygen levels, which is why they are so great at ripening cheese; they can do so in the small cracks. To encourage this process, many cheesemakers who are aging blue cheese will actually pierce channels into the cheese and then place the mold inside so they grow. You can find mold in common blue cheeses like Cabrales, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton. While blue cheese is the most likely to have blue molds, you can also find them on some goat cheeses.
White Molds
Although most people think of blue molds when they picture the mold used in cheese making, there are also white molds. These will be found along the outside of nearly every soft-ripened cheese. These white molds are P. camembertii, which is also known as P. candidum and its subspecies. White mold in cheese works by producing enzymes which break down milk proteins from curds. This in turn causes that ripened layer that is surrounded by a firm interior. Cheese with white mold will typically produce an earthy or garlicky flavor. The only thing to remember with cheese featuring white mold is that ammonia is a by-product of the enzymatic process. Because of this, you need to let the cheese breathe or sit uncovered so the ammonia can dissipate.
Is The Mold Dangerous?
Since mold is actually used in cheese making, it should be obvious that it does not pose a health threat. This is particularly true of the cheeses that have intentional mold growth. There are also some cheeses that will simply grow mold on their surface. While a very small number can be harmful, the vast majority of these unintentional molds are not. Instead, they actually enhance the flavor of the cheese.

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