Friday, September 30, 2011

What Are Some Of the Different Types Of Specialty Cheeses?

There are so many varieties of cheese it's very difficult to not find a kind you like. Often parents can only get their children to eat certain foods if cheese is involved. But maybe you've developed past this taste and want to try some of the artisan or specialty types. Well here's a few you may like to start with.

Most of us have had American, Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, Swiss, Feta and Bleu. But have we all had Brie? If you haven't it's a great place to start. If you have it's a great place to go even more specialty. If you haven't tried Camembert it's a good way to step it up a notch. It's not exactly Brie, but a richer flavored, similar texture. It comes from Normandy and some people say there's a hint of apple to its flavor. It is creamy if you serve at room temp and quite firm if chilled.

Maybe you'd like to try a specialty that doesn't come from France. The Dutch are quite known for making excellent cheeses also. Edam is mild, a little salty and very yummy. It's not far out there in flavor and often quite easy to get a hold of. You can serve with fruit, crackers or bread. Or add it to a sauce to richen the flavor. Another great style that comes from the Dutch is Gouda. This cheese is stronger in flavor and if it's young can be quite creamy. As it ages it tends to become firmer and almost bitter in taste. If you really want to search for unique Gouda, try it made from goat milk. It's white instead of yellow and milder in flavor.

Maybe you've already tried both Dutch and French varieties but haven't had a good German cheese; Limburger could be just your ticket. It's come to be known as one of the stinky kind, but don't let that keep you from tasting this delicious import. It has a flavor that is both creamy and tangy, similar to Brie. The rind is the strong, smelly part of the cheese. If you're not up to it, trim this off. Enjoy with veggies, crackers or a cold stein of German beer!

Whichever specialty is for you make sure to stretch your taste buds and go for something unique and new. You only get to live once, and you might as well try all the cheese the world has to offer!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cheese Recipe 18: Cheese and Cold Cut Sandwich

This recipe makes enough for about four.


8 lettuce leaves

8 deli slices of Colby Jack cheese

12 slices whole wheat bread, toasted

½ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

½ pound thinly sliced deli ham

8 slices bacon

½ pound thinly sliced smoked deli turkey

8 slices of tomato


In a small bowl, combine mustard and mayonnaise, mix very well. Spread 1 teaspoon on one side of each slice of bread. To create each sandwich: layer one slice of toast, mayonnaise-mustard mixture side up, 1 leaf of lettuce, 1 slice of cheese, 2 ounces of turkey, 2 ounces of ham, 2 slices of tomato, second slice of toast with the mayonnaise mixture side down. Spread 1 teaspoon on top of this toast and continue layering; cheese, turkey, bacon, lettuce, toast-mayo down. Stick tooth picks in and cut into fours. This is an all-American club!

Alternative Cheeses:

Swiss, Smokey Swiss, Muenster, Provolone, Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar, Gouda

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What Type Of Cheese Will Mold the Fastest: Cheddar or Swiss?

You're a cheese-aholic. You've had to face the fact every time you open your refrigerator and see there are so many types of cheese and so much of them that you're running out of room to store leftovers or your veggies. You shuffle items around, toss out stuff that may still be good just to make room for your newest blocks or triangles. Don't worry, you're not alone.

There are heaps of us that can't stand going a single meal without cheese. We buy it in quantities and make sure to hit the store anytime we see a sale. We hide our veggies under it, cover some meats with it and even dunk some fruits in it. Two of my favorite types are Cheddar and Swiss. I love them both because they are easy to find and often quite reasonable in price. I also really enjoy how versatile both cheeses can be and that most people like either or both of them.

One of the things I've noticed in buying in bulk when you hit a big sale is what you're going to do with it. You want to eat some of it before it goes bad (if cheese can go bad) and you don't want to have to waste tons of it by cutting off slabs of mold. So I've wondered which molds faster, Swiss or Cheddar.

Cheddar is a firm cheese with a rich flavor that isn't too strong. Like a lot of your fruits and veggies, the firmer it is the less prone to mold it can be. It's also generally aged longer which can help it keep from molding quickly. Because of this Cheddar wins in the race against the Swiss cheese.

Swiss is a soft cheese full of different sized holes that become veritable live-traps for fungi. Because of all the holes and softer texture you will find that Swiss is going to grow the funk quicker.

Either way, this food is made through a process using mold and because of this some miner amounts can be cut off and then it still be enjoyed. A good way of preventing mold if you've purchased more than your share because of a good deal at the local market is to toss a few blocks in the freezer. This way the next time you go to make a dish and open the fridge, you won't be sent into a panic when you realize you're out of your favorite food!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What Are the Top Five Cheeses Produced in the United States?

There are over 2000 types of cheeses produced in the world and the United States is the largest producer in the world. This is directly tied to milk production and the US is one of the largest milk producers in the world also. In the year 2008 the US produced over 30 percent of the world’s cheeses. They are followed by Germany, France and Italy.

Within the United States there are five states who are the largest producers of cheeses. The top producer is the state of Wisconsin closely followed by California. Then depending on which statistics you are looking at there follows the state of Idaho, New York State, and Minnesota followed by smaller production in a few others. These states produce 72 percent of all cheese produced in the US. That is a lot of the stuff.

The largest product produced is Cheddar and Mozzarella and this is about 60 percent of the US production. This is followed by cream cheese which accounts for approximately eight percent and then Italian style which is approximately nine percent of the product.

There are several types of the product produced. Some places produce regional varieties that don’t travel well. Then there is the artisan or artisanal producers who make small batches by hand generally in a more traditional method. There is a specialty category which generally is a product that has something added to it such as herbs, spices or nuts. For it to be defined as specialty it can only be made in a limited production. The last category is called farmstead which are products that are actually produced on the farm using the farms own milk and other products. The milk whether it be goat, sheep or cow cannot come in from another source.

Much of the product produced in the US are the wax covered blocks that may be Cheddar, Jack, American or Swiss. Different areas of the US produce different types of them including a Blue from Iowa which is made with milk from local area dairy farms instead of the traditional European type made from sheep’s milk. It too is aged in caves after being injected with Penicillum.

There are many different quite small artisan producers from the Pacific to the Atlantic. They will produce traditional product by hand in often very small batches. Some of the artisan products are so popular they sell out year after year.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Are There Any Special Tips For Storing, Using and Enjoying Cheese?

You must remember that cheese is a living and breathing product. It is a product that should be vibrant and alive. Its taste, texture and aroma should be interesting or exciting to the palate. It should be an enjoyable experience to simply eat a piece of cheese with a piece of apple or pear.

When you are serving several different cheeses don’t overwhelm the plate with so many different types that they become confusing and one begins to overwhelm another. You should serve a few different types from several of the different types available. If you have a local store that specializes in this product then you can let them know when you are going to serve the product and they will choose one that will be exactly ready to eat at the time you plan to serve it. That is why there are specialty shops that sell it.

Since some of them have added flavors to them such as herbs or spices you certainly don’t want to serve this type only. Mix a semi-soft like cubed pepper jack which has hot peppers added to it, with a washed rind type that may be made in salt brine that has been flavored with wine or brandy. Then select a mild and sweet bloomy rind like luscious brie that just is melting to be tasted. This way you have flavored with a milder choice. If you are served them in a restaurant you will be served the milder ones before the sharper or more pungent ones. There is a good reason for this. If you eat sharper foods first your taste buds become jaded fast. Then you have little taste for a milder choice and even though it may be in superb condition to eat right now you will not enjoy it.

One thing to remember about the goat milk cheeses is that a very fresh goat milk cheese will actually be quite mild and very good. If you are a person who believes you don’t care for the goat milk flavor try to find one that is very fresh and you may be surprised that you really enjoy it and it won’t have that typical goat milk bite to it.

It is interesting to note that a full wheel of certain cheeses like parmesan will literally last for years. These wheels may weight 70 pounds and the taste changes the longer it’s been cut.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cheese Recipe 17: Tomato and Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This recipe will make 4 sandwiches.


8 slices of your favorite kind of bread

8 slices of bacon

8 slices of Colby Jack cheese

8 slices of tomato

¼ cup of butter


Place the bacon in a good sized skillet with deep sides. Cook over medium heat until brown and crisp. Place on paper towel to drain very well and set aside. Heat another large skillet over medium to low heat. Spread some butter on one side of each slice of bread. Lay four slices of bread, with the butter side down in the large skillet. Top with one slice of cheese, then two slices of tomato. Add two slices of bacon then cover with another slice of cheese and cover with another slice of bread, keeping the butter side out. Cook until toasted on one side, the flip and toast well on the other.

Alternative Cheeses:

Swiss, Smokey Swiss, Provolone, Muenster, Cheddar, Extra Sharp Cheddar

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What Cheeses Have Been Found to Fight Cavities?

When you are talking about cheese you are talking about a fairly easy to digest food for most people unless the person is lactose intolerant. It is a food rich in protein, fat, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. With all of these nutrients in cheese it does perform some beneficial things for the body and it is a creamy dairy product too. It has been suggested that some cheeses can actually help reduce tooth decay. For example, actually chewing the product may increase the calcium in the tooth plaque. The increased calcium in tooth plaque is what protects against cavities. So this calcium actually helps keep teeth healthy.

There are other thoughts in this regard too. As you eat cheese or chew it the saliva in the mouth increases. The increased saliva helps cleanse the mouth of excess foods that may catch or stay on the teeth which until brushed out can cause tooth decay. The cheeses that generally fall in the tooth decay prevention category are those that have a slightly harder texture and generally fall into the semi hard or semi firm cheese type. This includes cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss and American.

In general any acidic food will increase saliva in the mouth such as celery, carrots and apples. Also eating the product after you eat sweets helps combat the sugars in the mouth as the increased saliva washes them down the throat. It also has a very high content of Vitamin C which will help against gun disease and it may kill any bacterium that makes the breath smell bad. It is believed that lactic acid may decrease gun disease so this means by chewing or eating a piece of cheddar you are also eating a form of lactic acid.

Within a piece of cheddar or Swiss you will find there is a very high Vitamin A content. It is also rich in calcium which helps keep the teeth healthy thus leading to reduced tooth cavities. It also contains fat, salt, protein, phosphorus and lots of potassium. So if you missed your daily banana you can substitute a piece of cheddar for you daily potassium. It will also contain a small amount of iron, zinc and a few others. Along with the high amount of Vitamin A it has small amounts of E, K B6, B12, riboflavin, Betaine and Folate. It is really amazing what that piece of cheddar has in it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cheese Recipe 16: Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich

This recipe makes one sandwich.


2 slices of bread of your choice

3 thick slices of ham or six or more thin slices

1 tablespoon of butter

Several thin slices of Swiss cheese


Take a medium skillet and place on medium to medium-low heat. Spray with non-stick spray or place a little oil in it. Place the ham in the frying pan for a few minutes, it just needs to be warmed, not blackened. If placed in the cold pan then by the time it starts to sizzle, it should be warm enough. While the ham is warming butter one side of each slice of bread. Place the cheese and ham on the bread and assemble it. Place the sandwich into the pan. When the bottom is toasted enough flip over. It should take approximately three minutes for each side.

Alternative Cheeses:

Colby Jack, Garlic Cheddar Cheese Curds, Sharp Cheddar, Muenster, Provolone.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What Are Some Great Quotes About Cheese?

When you are talking about cheese it seems that through the ages there have been many people who use the name or refer to it when they write or talk about it. One of the most common phrases in the US probably is that ‘the moon is made of green cheese’ and this is often told to children when they are looking at a full moon with all of the dark and light patches on it. Of course when we get older we learn that the moon is not made of green cheese and of course it’s not green either.

There are quotes that refer to various countries and the amount of different types of this product that they produce or of course those that relate to mice and mouse traps. An unattributed one is ‘worry is today’s mice nibbling on tomorrow’s cheese’ which of course refers to worrying in advance of something actually happening. Another unattributed one that refers to mice again would be ‘a mousetrap always provides free cheese’ although why someone would steal food that is waiting to be used to kill mice is unknown unless it implies one would not go hungry if they lived in a place that needed lots of mousetraps.

Helen Hayes is quoted as saying “Age is not important unless you’re cheese” which is a great quote because as certain types of the product ages it just gets better and if you are a woman, age is not at all important because you are already as good as it gets.

One of the better quotes is attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson and it refers to food made with the product and this is one of the better applications or uses of this product. He is quoted as saying “Many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese – toasted, mostly.” Of course toasted with all that melted gooey stuff holding the bread together with long glops of strings and strands of it melting together in your mouth, what can be better than that? This is even better if you make a croquet monsieur that has ham added to the wonderful melted insides of the bread.

There are many instances of this type of food related quotes as there are with many different types of foods. Foods make easy things to use in famous sayings or quotes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Is Cheese Really Mold?

Some cheeses have a mold injected into them to create their flavor and taste such as a blue, Roquefort or a camembert to name a few. This type may also be aged in caves that have those mold spores actually in the caves such as some of them in France and the cheeses are allowed to get that mold and it grows throughout the product resulting in either blue or green veins of mold actually in it. In fact most molds are harmless, especially these molds.

If there is no cave with the mold in the air or walls then the producers inject mold into the product to encourage the mold growth. And they may inject mold into the product even if the cave has the mold spores in it so that when injected the mold encourages more consistent mold growth. You would not want to cut open a piece of roquefort and find it is entirely made of a blue or green mold and nothing else. Mold is supposed to enhance the taste and texture not overwhelm it.

As to other cheeses some of them may have mold growing on the rind. This is intended and this type of cheese would be those called blooming rind cheeses like brie where the interior is creamy and runny and the outside of the product has mold on it. You can also safely eat this rind even with the mold. Be aware the rind will be sharper or more pungent flavored than the inside and many people don’t care for it.

The other cheeses such as American or Swiss are created when the milk protein curdles due to an agent called rennet which is made up of enzymes. These enzymes may be natural such as animal rennet or may be laboratory created. They can also be from a fermentation of a fungus. So in theory one could say that cheese is created with mold but cheese is not really mold itself.

A cheese is a living breathing product which will mold if not properly stored. It will also grow mold if it is stored too long. If it is a harder variety such as one of the grating kind such as asiago or parmesan it will be less prone to mold quickly. The softer type such as brie or Provolone will mold faster especially if it has any pockets where moisture can house bacteria which creates mold.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cheese Dip Recipe 8: Bacon and Cheese Dip

This recipe will make about 16 servings.


2 green onions washed and finely chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

4 buttery round crackers crushed into coarse crumbs

4 slices of bacon cooked and drained

1 eight pack of cream cheese

8 ounces of Swiss cheese well shredded or grated.

Cook the bacon up crispy in a medium skillet pan. Drain onto paper towels and crumble finely. In a small bowl mix the cream cheese, with mayonnaise until very smooth. Next, stir in the swiss cheese, onions and bacon. Place bowl in microwave on high for about two minutes or until creamy. Remove and stir well. Place back in microwave on high for about another two to four minutes. Sprinkle crushed crackers on top before serving. Serve warm with crackers, chips, bread or veggies for dipping.

Alternative Cheeses:

Swiss, Smokey Swiss, Gouda, Extra Sharp Cheddar, Garlic Cheddar Curds, Muenster, or a combination

Friday, September 9, 2011

What is the Connection Between Cheese and Sleep?

You love it fried, stuck between two slices of bread or simply sliced up and gobbled down. We cover our fries with it, our popcorn and even our artichokes. If you want to dress up some left overs simply add cheese and potatoes. There are no better times to enjoy it than as a late night snack alone or with fruit or crackers. But did you know that there are certain wives' tales that eating this food before bed can cause nightmares?

Recently the British Cheese Board (no it's not a game and they really do exist) conducted a study with 200 people and found no evidence of a connection, at least when pertaining to nightmares. Perhaps had it been conducted by a group not involved with the promotion of cheese the findings may have been different. Interestingly enough, there was evidence to support that different cheeses can affect dreams. Stilton for instance is said to create bizarre images, while Cheshire may give you a dreamless night, and Red Leicester is said to create rosy nostalgic dreams.

One of the biggest reasons sleep may be so commonly associated with cheese is that it contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid that is linked to inducing sleep and relieving stress. Perhaps the original tales got started because, like warm milk and turkey, this food helps create a sleepy mood in those who have eaten it. Perhaps people who have suffered from insomnia (possibly because they already had fretful dreams) ate cheese and slept more readily only to repeat the dreams they often had, thus developing an association.

Try a small study on yourself and enjoy a good serving of one variety each night of the week as a bedtime snack. Keep a dream journal nearby and see if and how which types affect the images you see while catching some shut eye. I would suggest staying away from some of the more common or ordinary cheeses and instead go for the Camemberts, Bries, or Limburgers. This can provide an ample opportunity for some fun days hunting unique cheeses out at the market and even better nights of easy slumber with interesting dreams. Up the ante a little and enlist a friend or two and conduct your own study. What better excuse to spend a week or more trying some new and interesting flavors of your favorite food? Go out and enjoy selecting some kinds you've never tried and finding out for yourself if you have bizarre or rose-tinted dreams.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cheese Dip Recipe 7: Chili Con Queso Dip

golThis recipe makes about 6-8 servings.


1 eight ounce block of softened cream cheese

1 teaspoon olive oil

½ cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves minced

1 ten ounce can of diced tomatoes with chilies

1 teaspoon chili powder

Cilantro sprigs (optional)

1 can diced tomatoes undrained (about 10 ounces)

12 ounces Colby Jack cheese


Drain the can of tomatoes and the can of tomatoes and chilies in a colander over a bowl. Reserve 1/3 cup of the liquid. Set both the tomatoes and reserved liquid aside. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Then sauté for about four minutes. Add the cream cheese and cook until it melts, stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes and reserved liquid, plus chili powder. Bring to a boil. Add the cheese and reduce heat, simmer for about another 3 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve warm with chips.

Alternative Cheeses:

Extra Sharp Cheddar, Gouda, Muenster

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cheese Dip Recipe 6: Broccoli Cheese Dip

This recipe makes about 32 servings of 2 tablespoons each.


8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese divided

1 cup of sour cream

1 envelope of Italian dressing mix

1 package of sour cream about 8 ounces

1 package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and well drained


Get the oven preheated to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl mix the cream cheese, dressing mix and sour cream with mixer until very well blended. Next add the broccoli and half of the shredded cheese, mix very well. Grease up a 9 inch pie plate. Spread the mixture into the plate. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Pull it out and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar cheese and cook for the next five minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with crackers of choice. Best if served warm.

Alternative Cheeses:

Extra sharp cheddar, Muenster, Provolone, Smokey Swiss, Swiss

What is The History Of Cheese Making?

You know it's a great source of calcium. You know it can be bountiful with protein. You've even learned to pick ones that are lower in fat or lower in sodium. You have planned meals around this delicious food because you defiantly know you love to enjoy it as often as possible. But do you know some of the history behind cheese?

This food has been around longer than written history, so some of its earliest stages aren't recorded. We seem unsure if it originally came from Europe, Middle East, or Asia. But one thing we know is that by Roman times it had risen to higher standards than a lot of foods. Most believe that the process for making cheese was discovered accidentally because inflated internal organs were often used for storage vessels and the rennet that aids in the dividing milk into curds and whey is naturally found in the stomachs of animals.

Some of the earliest evidence from archaeological digs was found in Egyptian tombs dating about 2000 BCE. These cheeses would have most likely been slightly bitter and salty, much like the Feta we still eat today. In some of the cooler climates in Europe they didn't need to use as much salt and this became an easy environment for molds or microbes to grow which helped to age the cheese diversifying our types and flavors.

By Roman times we have recorded history from Pliny regarding the daily enjoyment and the wide variety of cheese available. With the decline of Rome there was a rise in small regions developing their own techniques. Many of the varieties we know and love today didn't get recorded until the Middle Ages or later. Camembert wasn't till 1791, Parmesan 1597 and Cheddar around 1500.

The process of making cheese wasn't industrialized until 1815 in Switzerland. In the US, credit was yet again given to Rome, New York that is, where Jesse Williams started making blocks in an assembly line fashion. It wasn't long before hundreds of these took off. Most of what we get in America is considered highly processed, although there is a recent trend toward more artisan, non-factory made kinds.

The next time you find yourself deciding between Colby, Gouda, or Limburger, you'll be able to think a little about how ancient this food is and feel good knowing various cultures and civilizations enjoyed a similar delicious food with their meals.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cheese of the Month Club Winner

Congratulations to F. Nehring of Sarasota Florida for being our first ever Cheese of the Month Club Winner. We hope all of you had a such a "grate" time entering the contest, that you'll do it again for our next drawing on January 7, 2012, which is for our 4 month subscription valued at $161.99. For more details click HERE.

Pasteurized VS. Unpasteurized Cheese: Which is Better?

You know there is White Cheddar, Romano, Parmesan, Smoked Gouda and Gouda. There were kinds with veggies rolled into them, herbs encased, or already to sprinkle over your salad. You can buy curds and all sorts of Amish or European import varieties. But did you know that there are becoming increasingly more opportunities to by 'raw' or unpasteurized cheeses in America? Do you know which is better?

When it comes to choosing a raw or pasteurized cheese there are a lot of factors going into the decision making process. The first is to understand in the USA, raw cheeses must be aged for 60 days which is thought to protect consumers from the bacteria they may contain that can cause Listeria, Salmonella, or E. Coli. The risk of contracting this type of bacteria with modern food preparation, even in the raw world is minimal. If you can get past the worry of this there is a whole new world (or perhaps it's more precise to say old world) of delicate flavors and textures awaiting your taste.

Most connoisseurs will tell you cheese made the 'old world way' is more flavorful and has more naturally occurring enzymes that is good for the digestion and at the same time your taste buds. Not being required to stick with pasteurized opens up a lot of new and delicious choices for a person to try. The ingredients used and the aging process add a lot to the taste. Often people will argue when you go to the extremes it takes to pasteurize a food it can eliminate much of what was originally thought to be desired. It is after all, a process.

There aren't cases broadcast daily about people contracting this or that from a raw cheese. So the real debate comes down to taste. If you are someone who already enjoys a rich cheese, you should by all means run out and get some of the more interesting raw varieties available to you. You're sure to be in for a treat and able to see the difference in taste between the kinds.

One word of caution though, if you are pregnant or nursing wait till after to enjoy the many offerings of raw cheese. The chance of getting a food borne illness during this delicate time increases and is far more dangerous as it not only affects you but your unborn or infant child. There is plenty of time to try all the varieties the world of cheese has to offer, so wait a little longer and then try something very extravagant.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cheese Dip Recipe 5: Spicy Cheese Dip

This recipe makes enough for about 6-8 people.


2 ten ounce containers of freshly made salsa

1 can cream of mushroom soup

¼ cup of whole milk

2 pounds of Colby jack cheese

1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic

1 ½ pounds ground beef

1 large chopped onion

1 or 2 jalapeño peppers finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Bag of tortilla chips


In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the beef, jalapeños, garlic and salt and pepper, until brown and done. Drain very well, placing excess fat into a small bowl. Add this mixture of beef into a Crockpot and place on medium heat. While this is being kept warm add the Colby cheese in the small cubes or shredded, plus add the soup and milk. Stir well. Next add one can of the salsa into the mixture and stir well. After this has been mixed for a moment adds the next can of salsa and stir.

Alternative Cheeses:

Cheddar, Sharp cheddar, Muenster or a mix

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