Sunday, December 17, 2017

Three Of The Oldest Cheeses

Some cheese is designed to age while others are best eaten fresh. Even hard cheeses, however, are not typically aged more than a decade. Because of this, the oldest cheeses in the world are found by mere happenstance. Their extensive aging isn’t intentional; it is accidental, happening when someone dies or being discovered years after being left somewhere. Amazingly enough, some of the cheese archaeologists and others discover is even (probably) safe to eat. Here are three of the oldest cheeses that have been found. If you buy from a specialty retailer, you may be able to find cheddar aged over fiveyears, but that is still a baby compared to these cheeses.

The Cheese With A Chinese Mummy

In 2014, the cheese world got some major news when researchers announced that mummies found buried in China were discovered with hunks of cheese. The mummies were originally buried within the Taklamakan Desert and experts put them at 3,800 years old. The cheese hunks were found around the neck of the mummies. The cheese was actually discovered when researchers started excavating Xiaohe Cemetery, or Ordek’s Necropolis, from 2002 to 2004. This necropolis provided salty soil and dry air, allowing for preservation of mummies and accessories. The cheese clumps adorned the chests and necks of the mummies and were between 0.4 and 0.8 inches.

Cheese Found In A Milwaukee Walk-In Cooler

To give an example of the type of old cheese that is more typically found, look at the case of Ed Zahn, a cheesemaker, who discovered decades-old cheese in his walk-in cooler in 2012. Zahn, who was 73 at the time of discovery, had originally made the cheese while working a cheese company that is no longer in business. His 40-year old cheddar was accidental, but still won him the honor of having the oldest of all commercially available cheeses in the world, while supplies lasted. The flavor was reportedly so strong that people could only handle very small bites. At the same time, Zahn found two other batches of cheese, one that was 28 years old and another that was 34.

20-Year-Old Cheddar

Apparently Wisconsin prides itself on its cheesemaking skills for good reason; another of the oldest cheeses is from the state as well. The Hook’s Cheese Company in Mineral Point made headlines in 2015 when they sold 20-year-old cheddar. It sold for $209 a pound and it was all claimed very quickly following the announcement. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Five Facts About Cheese In America

Cheese of all types is popular in America, even not including the overly processed varieties such as “American cheese.” With so much cheese sold every day in the United States and the rest of North America, it can give you some important perspective to get basic facts on cheese in this part of the world.

Around A Billion Pounds Made A Month

According to statistics from 2016, the United States produces a massive amount of cheese each month: a billion pounds. Based on data from the National Agriculture Statistics Service in February of that year, 341 million pounds of mozzarella were produced, along with 258 million of cheddar.

Cheddar Isn’t Naturally Yellow

This cheese fact applies to almost all cheddar in the United States as well as around the world. Cheddar cheese isn’t actually yellow. Today, we use dye made from Annato, which is a pod-producing tree found in South and Central America. The practice of dying cheddar cheese to make it appear more yellow comes from English farmers in the 16th century. As their cows’ diets changed in the winter, the cheese would go from yellow to white. The practice of dying cheese has continued around the world, including in America.

Leading Cheese Producers

As of earlier this year, Wisconsin was the largest producer of cheese in the United States. Its annual production is about three billion pounds. Next up is California, producing about 2.5 billion pounds, and followed by Idaho at 900 million pounds.

Mice Don’t Actually Eat Cheese

Another fact about cheese in America that also applies around the world is that mice don’t actually eat it. You would never know this is the case based on cartoons and movies. A researcher from Manchester Metropolitan University even found that mice actively try to avoid cheese because they find the odor strong and offensive. Instead, mice prefer to munch on fresh fruit or vegetables.

Convenience Cheese In America

When other countries in the world picture cheese in the United States, they imagine the overly processed convenience ones, such as processed American cheese. This cheese was the creation of J.L. Kraft, who founded Kraft foods, in 1915. His goal was to create an option with a longer shelf life than traditional cheese. While American cheese certainly lasts a long time, most will agree that it isn’t actually cheese, at least not as it is made today. A related fact about convenience cheese is that Sargento Cheese Company, from Plymouth, Wisconsin, was the first to introduce packaged shredded cheese, doing so in 1958. They were also the ones to introduce resealable bags for this cheese in 1986. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

What Makes Cheese Smell?

Despite the smell, many people absolutely love stinky cheese, although they typically choose not to eat it in public because others hate it. In fact, feelings about stinky cheese tend to sit on the extreme ends of the spectrum. No matter which category you fall into, it doesn’t hurt to understand how cheese gets that distinctive smell.

How Washed Rinds Influence Smell

The most common category of cheese with a strong smell is those with a washed rind. To create these cheese, the rinds are bathed in a range of liquids and other edibles, that can include water, wine, salt, liquors, spices, and more. Washing the rind allows the cheese to develop its characteristic flavor and maintain moisture. It also leads to the smell as the rinds help breed brevibacterium linens, cultures that lead to the strong smell.

How Blue Cheese Gets Its Smell

Another type of cheese known for its smell is blue cheese. These cheeses are associated with high moisture and a texture that is soft and open. The curd’s airiness lets the mold grow within the cheese following exposure to oxygen. That mold growth not only adds to the flavor, but the smell as well.

Why Goat Cheese Smells

Although certainly not the strongest smelling type, goat cheese does have a distinct scent. The Geotrichum Candidum yeasts usually used to ripen them are responsible for the sulfuric odor. They can also lead to hints of a scent like citrus fruit or overripe pineapple.

How To Tell If Stinky Cheeses Are Safe

As a general rule, when buying cheeses that smell due to a washed rind, opt for one with uniform coloring. You want a cheese with a pungent smell. You should also avoid ones with too much of an ammonia smell as that can indicate it has spoiled. Most cheeses should have smooth skin that isn’t cracked, dry, tacky, sticky, or slimy, although there are a few exceptions.

Some Popular Stinky Cheeses

If you want to try a stinky cheese, but don’t know where to get started, consider limburger. This soft, melty cheese is salty and is among the most famous of the stinky cheeses. Epoisses is also incredibly popular, with a mild, creamy, and luscious combination of texture and flavor. Nicasio Square is one of the less stinky washed rind cheeses, making it a good choice for those trying out this category. The flavor is tart, buttery, and salty.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Interesting Nutrition Facts About Cheese You Should Know

Even if you eat cheese every single day, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are aware of its nutrition. Cheese is very good for you, providing calcium and other nutrients, and if you eat it in moderation, it can also be low in fat and salt. Each of the hundreds of cheese varieties has its own specific nutritional information, but here are some interesting facts you may be interested to learn.

Cheese Contains Calcium And Protein

Starting off with some nutrition facts you probably already do know about cheese, this dairy product is an excellent source of both calcium and protein. A single serving of mozzarella, cheddar, or Swiss (one ounce) will deliver 200 milligrams of calcium, about a fifth of the recommended daily amount. Just one serving of hard cheese can also deliver 8 grams of protein, putting you well on your way to your daily goal and making it a smart choice for vegetarians.

Cheese Has Probiotics

If you take antibiotics, this can sometimes affect the balance between gut bacteria that “good” and “bad.” To get the good bacteria back in your gut, eating cheese is one of the simplest ways to go. This is all thanks to the probiotics in cheese, the “good” bacteria which regulate gut flora. This means that eating cheese gives you the nutrients needed to improve your gut’s environment and therefore your overall health. A healthy intestine can improve your digestive, heart, and brain health.

Not All Cheese Is High Fat

While it is true that some types of cheese are high in fat, you can still enjoy those in moderation. If you absolutely love cheese, you will be glad to know that not all have high fat content. Even if you do choose a cheese with higher levels of fat, it likely won’t be enough to make a negative impact on your diet, unless you eat excessive amounts. To give you some ideas of fat content, a serving of cream cheese has 34 percent fat content while cottage cheese is only made up of one percent fat.

Cheese Fat Can Be Healthy

Not only are the “unhealthy” fats in most cheeses there in such small quantities that you shouldn’t have issues, but many of the fats in cheese are actually healthy. Cheese is complex with hundreds of fatty acids, most of which are good for you. It also contains a great deal of monounsaturated fat, one of the best types. Cheese also has ruminant (or dairy) trans fats, which unlike processed trans fats, provide health benefits.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Three Cheese Myths Busted

As with any delicious food, there are numerous myths surrounding cheese. The most common are related to nutrition, but you can also find myths about cooking techniques, origins, and more. Out of the various cheese myths, the following include some of those with the most misleading information. By setting the record straight, you will be able to enjoy our cheese without guilt.

Myth: Those With Lactose Intolerance Can’t Eat Cheese

The idea that those who are lactose intolerant cannot eat cheese seems to make sense. After all, milk has lactose and cheese is made from milk. The reality, however, is that even those with lactose intolerance can enjoy cheese, provided they select the right types. Cheese that retains more whey has a higher level of lactose.

This means that some folks with lactose intolerance really should avoid soft and moist cheeses. However some can safely eat hard, dry cheese. Of course, many people who have negative effects with cheese made from cow’s milk will also find that from the milk of goats or sheep to be fine.

Myth: Cheese And Diets Are Mutually Exclusively

Another common myth says that if you are on a diet, or even just trying to eat healthy, you should avoid cheese. While it is true that cheese has a relatively high fat content, you can still follow a healthy diet and enjoy it. Just do so in limited quantities and select your cheese carefully. Those trying to watch their fat should opt for goat’s milk cheese as it has the lowest fat content. Soft cheeses also tend to have less fat than harder ones because of the difference in moisture content. For those whose diet includes a reduced intake of salt, stick to one of the cheeses with a lower salt content. These include cottage cheese, mozzarella, Emmental, and cream cheese.

Myth: Cheese Is Addictive

One of the more recent myths involving cheese is that it is addictive. This is due to research from the University of Michigan that included cheese on their list of foods with refined carbs and added fats that are more difficult to give up. The inclusion of cheese, however, was very far down the list. In fact, it sat below items like bananas, eggs, and broccoli!

The theory that cheese may be addictive comes down to its casein. The idea is that when the body breaks casein down, a by-product casomorphin has addictive effects on the brain in a way similar to morphine. However, that claim was from someone who actively promotes veganism, meaning they have a clear bias. Additionally, the European Food Safety Authority has expressed extreme doubt that these casomoprhins would even enter the brain or bloodstream as they enter the intestine. In other words, only a very small handful of experts thing cheese is addictive; the overwhelming majority disagree.

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