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.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Four Facts About The Origin Of Cheese

Today, we take cheese as a given, assuming that we will be able to find it almost no matter where in the world we go. Next time you are eating your favorite type of this dairy snack, take some time to reflect on the origins of it. You can easily find details of the history of cheese, but here are some of the most interesting facts about its origins. 

It Has Been Around For At Least 4,000 Years 

Experts agree that cheese has been in existence for a minimum of 4,000 years. The proof of this date comes from murals in Egyptian tombs. While this is the earliest evidence we have that cheese has been around for thousands of years, it is entirely possible that it existed even longer than this. 

Our Guess Of How It Was Invented

Because cheese was invented so long ago, the exact origins of it have long been lost to history. That being said, most experts agree on the same theory, that you will find on nearly any website dedicated to cheese. Most likely a traveler of some sort, possibly a nomad on a camel, was traveling across the dessert. He likely filled up his saddlebag with milk to drink along the way. 

At the time, saddlebags were sheep stomachs that had been dried. It is likely that due to the heat of desert, after just a few hours of traveling, the milk would have separated. By the time he went to have a drink, he discovered curds (white solids) and whey (the milky fluid). Most assume that this traveler discovered that the curds were delicious and the why still drinkable. 

There is another theory, which is that men gave the Gods milk as an offering. When they put it out in warmer weather, they noticed the milk would thicken. They may have noticed that it would curdle and then drained the liquid, discovering it firmed up, accidentally creating soft cheese. 

Asian Travelers Brought It To Europe

The theories involving the first cheese are focused in Asia because we know that Asian travelers brought cheesemaking to the European continent. It was particularly popular in the Roman Empire, and they spread it to England. By the 10th Century, Italy was the continent’s cheesemaking center. 

Many Of Our Favorite Cheeses Began During The Late Middle Ages

The first records of some of today’s most popular cheeses appeared during the middle ages. These include Cheddar in 1500, Parmigiano-Reggiano in 1597, Gouda during 1697, and finally, Camembert in 1791. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

How Is Cheese Smoked And What Are The Most Common Smoked Cheeses?

When you start exploring the range of artisanal cheeses available outside of your local supermarket, you will notice that many of them are smoked. This process of smoking is used to add flavor to the cheese, enhancing its taste. There are actually several different ways to create smoked cheese depending on the quality of it. In fact, the cheapest and worst quality “smoked” cheese isn’t smoked at all; they are just cured using liquid smoke or smoke flavoring so they taste like it.

How To Smoke Cheese

The most common method of making smoked cheese is to cold smoke it. This involves taking chunks of the cheese in question and placing them in a smoker for just several hours at a time. If you do this at home, you should stick to small chunks of cheese, a pound or less. You may also want to let the cheese go back to room temperature before you smoke it again.
During cold smoking, an ice tray is put inside the smoker and the cheese goes on top. That way, the smoke can penetrate the cheese completely, spreading its flavor but without overheating the cheese or causing melting. The alternative to cold smoking is to use a regular smoking method, just being sure to keep the cheese very separate from the heat. Ideally, only a vent will let the smoke into the area where the cheese is. Following the smoking itself, the cheese is wrapped up in the fridge for between two and four weeks. This way, the smokiness can mellow down and be delicious without being overpowering.

Adding Flavor Via Smoking

The most flavorful smoked cheese will be made with special chips. Hickory chips and apple chips are both common choices, each of which adds their own flavor.

Common Smoked Cheeses

Some of the most popular smoked cheeses are Cheddar and Gouda, which are among the easiest to find. Colby, mozzarella, provolone, and Gruyere are other common choices that can see their flavors enhanced with smoking.

You can use smoked cheese any way you want with many of the recipes being similar to those that call for un-smoked cheese. Because of the additional flavors in smoked cheese, you may want to keep things a bit simpler, such as with a smoked cheese quesadilla or a melt with cheese, ham, and some spinach. Of course, smoked cheese is also delicious by itself and with crackers or bread.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Can you Share Your Favorite Cheese With Your Pet?

Since pets are part of the family, it makes sense that you will want to share part of whatever you are eating with them. To keep your pets safe, however, you need to make sure that the food you plan on sharing with them is safe to eat. When it comes to cheese, some pets can share your treat while others are best kept away from it.

Sharing With Your Cat

If you have a cat, you probably don’t want to give them some of your cheese. This is in no way a natural part of their diet as the animals are carnivores and don’t need cheese’s nutrients. Since their dry food is packed with protein already, they don’t need the added protein found in cheese. To make matters worse, the cream and milk in it may upset your cat’s stomach. Some cats will still be able to eat very small quantities of cheese without a problem, although they may or may not actually enjoy it. Most cats, however, are lactose intolerant. This means that if they eat cheese, they are likely to have diarrhea, throw up, or face other consequences. Additionally, eating cheese too much will cause your feline to gain weight because of the sodium and fat content. The only time your vet may suggest giving your cat some cheese is if it helps convince him to take medicine and he isn’t lactose intolerant.

Sharing With Your Dog

While your dog doesn’t need cheese either, he will be better equipped to enjoy it than your cat, although still in small quantities. Keep in mind that not every dog will digest cheese well either and you need to stay away from ones with food items or herbs in them as well as rich, fatty cheeses. The first time you give your dog a bite of cheese, watch him carefully to make sure there isn’t a reaction. If you do want to share cheese with your dog, try to opt for ones with lower fat like cottage cheese or mozzarella as well as cheese with less sodium.

Sharing With Your Mice, Rats, Or Rabbits

Despite what you are probably thinking, you shouldn’t really be giving your pet mouse or rat some of your cheese. They simply don’t need any of the nutrients in this food and it is a stereotype that they love it. Buying a well-balanced pet food is a better choice. If you feel like you need to give your mouse or rat a human-food treat, stick to apples, cucumbers, peas, bananas, or something else mouse-friendly. Don’t give them more than a teaspoon or do it more than a handful of times every week. You also shouldn’t give cheese to rabbits as their digestive system can’t handle dairy.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Can Anyone Make A Cheese Cave?

With a cheese cave, you can make your own cheese and age it as much as you want. The problem is that most people don’t have the space in their home for a full-sized cheese cave of the traditional variety. Luckily, a cheese cave doesn’t have to actually be a cave. Anyone can make a cheese cave with a few simple tools and you make it any size you want, from a truly spacious cave with room for aging hundreds of cheeses to the size of a mini-fridge with just enough space for a few.

Turn An Old Fridge Into A Cheese Cave

The best and most popular way to make your own cheese cave is with an old refrigerator. Choose whatever size you prefer and get ready to make a few simple adjustments. You will need to control the temperature as well as the humidity of the fridge to give it the right environment for cheese aging. When setting it up, remember that you want the temperature to be as constant as possible and between 45 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit. You also want the moisture level to be around 80 to 90 percent. Controlling the temperature in your old fridge is as simple as buying and installing a basic controller. If you don’t know where to look, consider a pet store as many reptiles need temperature-controlled environments. You will control the humidity levels with a pan of water that has a partial cover; invest in a humidity detector to keep track of it. If necessary, cover the pan of water more or less and be ready to refill it.

You can also do something similar with an old wine cooler. An alternative to the pan of water is using a personal humidifier with adjustable settings. Remember that you may need to adjust the humidity levels more around seasonal changes.

Section Off Part Of Your Current Fridge

If you don’t have space for another fridge, you can sometimes turn a portion of your current one into a cheese cave, although this is less than ideal. Since your fridge is probably set to 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the ideal temperature for a cheese cave, you will need to put the cheese in the warmest area of it. Put it inside an airtight container with the cheese only taking up about 40 percent of the room as this prevents drying. Keep it humid with a crumpled wet paper towel within the container.

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