Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

5 Tips To Throwing A Cheese Tasting Party

If you want to host a party but are looking for something a bit classier, a cheese tasting party is one of the best options. There are plenty of cheeses available to choose from so it is only a matter of selecting the right ones and doing all the other elements of planning to make it a success. It can be a bit daunting at first, especially if you don’t know how to pick your cheeses (or drinks) so here are some tips to help you plan your cheese tasting party.

Set Up

One of the most important things to consider (other than the cheeses) is how you will set up your cheese tasting party. If you have the room, a great idea is to place a long table and divide it into different sections based on cheeses. Another option is to set up several smaller areas throughout the room, each with a different type of cheese as well as a label.


One thing that many people don’t consider when throwing a cheese tasting party is labeling the cheese. In many cases, they will simply put out the cheeses and expect their guests to know what they are as well as their history. A better idea, and one that your guests will greatly appreciate, is to clearly label each cheese. If you have the time, it is also a great idea to add a sentence or two to the label describing where the cheese comes from and its history.

Compare Varieties

A great idea when selecting the cheeses for your party is to select different varieties of the same cheese. An example would be to get some fresh mozzarella in the two main varieties: that made from water buffalo’s milk and that made from cow’s milk. You could do something similar with cheddar, serving different levels of sharpness, different colors or specific artisan cheeses.

Go Unusual

Part of the goal of cheese tasting party is to introduce your guests to cheeses they have not had before. This means that if you live somewhere where cheese curds are not very common, this is a great opportunity to introduce them to your friends. Once again, choose some varieties such as plain cheddar cheese curds and cheddar ones with bacon and chives. This is also the chance for you to get unusual varieties of more common cheeses. A good idea would be a hand crafted and well-aged cheddar.

Other Items

When you are having a cheese tasting party, you don’t want to just serve the cheese. You should be sure to have a variety of small breads and crackers as well. You also need to pay close attention to the drinks. Wine is a classic option but be sure to pair your wines and cheeses correctly. Ideally, you could even write the ideal wine on each cheese’s label. To find the right wines, do your research by looking online or asking a cheese expert. In many cases when you buy your cheese online from a quality website, they will give you suggestions of wine pairings.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Why Does Mozzarella Melt So Easily?

Chances are if you have ever had a pizza, you have eaten mozzarella cheese as it is the most commonly used cheese for this food. But this isn’t the only dish that involves melted mozzarella and that is no surprise considering the great taste and ease associated with melting the cheese. When compared to other cheeses, it sometimes seems as if mozzarella melts a lot easier but instead of understanding why, most people just take advantage of this fact and use the melted version in recipes. If you want to know why this cheese melts so easily, then it all comes down to its structure.

Type Of Melt

Before completely understanding why mozzarella melts so easily, it is important to understand what type of melting cheese it produces. In general there are several different consistencies that you can get from melted cheese: stretchy and stringy, smooth and flowing and ones that don’t melt. If you have ever worked with mozzarella, then you know it is a stretchy and stringy cheese when melted. This means that when you melt it, it can make long strings (thing of the stringy melted cheese on your pizza) and will generally stay where they are, making them great for sandwiches and pizza.

The Moisture

So we mentioned that the reason mozzarella melts so easily is because of its structure, but what exactly does that mean. It comes down to the fact that when you make mozzarella at a high pasteurization temperature, the cheese will have more moisture which means that you need to be careful with it as it will melt easily, giving it a higher risk of burning. At the same time, the moisture is part of what gives it the melted consistency that we have grown to love. One thing to remember when cooking your mozzarella, however, is that if you cook it at higher temperatures, there will be less moisture.

Other Factors

The moisture is just one of the factors that cause mozzarella to melt so easily. If you want to use mozzarella that melts easily, it is best to avoid reduced fat cheese as this will have more protein content. This in turn means that the cheese is harder to melt so if you plan on melting your mozzarella, stick to the full-fat version. You will also notice that cheese made with a bulk starter culture will melt better because of the increased microbial activity. Another way to make your mozzarella melt even more easily is to increase the time it is stored in refrigeration as this will help it develop more which in turn helps with melting.

How Do You Do It?

Now that you know why mozzarella cheese melts so easily, it is a good idea to know the best way to melt it. Ideally you should use a double boiler (or make your own using a small pot and a large pot). Shred the cheese and put it in the top part of the double boiler. Then fill the bottom with water halfway putting the heat on medium high. Put the top part (with the cheese) on top of the bottom part and stir it frequently while it melts. You should have melted mozzarella in no time.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How Does Cheddar Cheese Get Its Color?

One of the things that distinguish cheddar cheese from the other cheeses (in addition to its flavor of course) is its color. While most cheeses are traditionally light in color, cheddar is almost always yellow or even a bright orange. Although people enjoy cheddar’s distinctive color, not everyone knows where it comes from or what the difference in color is. Well the most important thing to know about the color of this cheese is that it is not naturally that way; instead the color is produced using an all-natural dye. Here is how exactly cheddar gets its color as well as information on why it was first dyed.

The Dye

We already know that cheddar cheese is not naturally yellow and most certainly not naturally orange, but the good news is that the color of the cheese does not involve chemical additives such as those in other colored products. Instead, this coloring is all-natural. The cheese is dyed using annatto which is a coloring additive that comes from the achiote tree, a tree that is common in South and Central America’s tropical regions. Annatto is actually the name of the seeds that are then ground up to be used as a natural dye.


Part of the logic behind coloring cheddar cheese is to help create uniformity. This is because the cows that produce the milk which is made into cheese can greatly affect the color. It all comes down to the amount of beta-carotene that is produced by the cows and included in their milk. Cows that eat in the pasture (such as in the olden days when cheese was first created) will have higher levels of this nutrient during the spring because of their diet of fresh grass. This will produce cheese that is more yellow. In the winter, however, when they have less beta-carotene in their diet, the cheese made from the milk will be whiter.


Another reason that cheddar cheese was traditionally dyed was to increase the sales. When cheddar was first produced, most of the cheeses at the time were white. People who bought cheese liked the richer flavor of the yellow cheddar that was produced from cow’s summer milk. Cheese manufacturers quickly realized that by adding a bit of color to white cheddar (or other cheeses for that matter), buyers would associate it with that better quality yellow cheddar and be more inclined to buy, paying higher prices.


Today you will notice that not all cheddar cheese is one color. Some are yellow, while others are white or even that deep orange. The white cheddars are the ones that do not include the coloring additive annatto. Yellow cheese will usually include the standard amount while the deep orange cheddar cheese will have an extra bit of annatto. Because the annatto doesn’t affect the flavor, the differences all come down to custom. The yellow and orange varieties are popular because that is simply what people expect to see when purchasing their cheddar cheese and while the white cheese is more natural, it is not necessarily any different in taste or healthiness.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What Causes Cheese Curds To Be Squeaky?

Although cheese curds are especially popular in Wisconsin, they are popular throughout the country and it is no wonder with their delicious taste and amazing squeakiness. For people who haven’t had them before, the squeakiness can seem a bit odd at first but anyone who frequently eats them knows that squeakiness is a sign of freshness and quality. In most cases, if they aren't squeaky anymore, they simply won’t taste as good. Although most cheese curd consumers know this, few understand why it’s the case. Here is all you need to know about why these delicious bits squeak.

Is It Air?

One of the most frequent explanations is that they squeak because the air is trapped inside them. The problem with this theory, however, is that it hasn't been backed up by any science and doesn't seem to make much sense. After all, if the squeakiness is caused by air trapped inside the curd, how do they lose their squeak? Does the air just magically leave? If you ask a scientist or an expert on cheese, they will tell you that this explanation doesn't make sense because it isn't true. In reality, the squeakiness is because of something else.

What Do The Proteins Do?

The real reason they are squeaky is their protein and how they are structured. It comes down to the fact that cheese curds are made up of casein protein combined with milk fat that create a protein matrix. The calcium makes this protein matrix more solid while other elements remove a negative charge from certain proteins in the casein. This means that instead of small protein strands, the structure of cheese curds includes longer protein strands due to the long matrix of proteins. It sounds complicated but when these protein strands rub on your tooth’s enamel that is what creates the squeak.

How Do They Lose The Squeak?

Everyone who has eaten them knows that they will lose the squeak after a few days. This is because of the process that makes them. During the process of pressing, hooping and salting, the structure of the protein strands becomes more compacted. This means that over time, they will lose some squeakiness as it is these strands that cause it in the first place. A drop in pH levels can also cause them to lose their squeak because the long proteins will start to break down, making them weaker and less likely to squeak.

Can Microwaving Help?

Lots of people will tell you that if you have cheese curds that have lost their squeak, you just have to briefly heat them in the microwave and this is completely true. That is because the heat will affect the moisture inside the cheese curds. This in turn causes the casein proteins to drop more of their negative charges which will (as we mentioned above), create the longer chains again. Just be careful when using the microwave to regain the squeakiness as if you leave them in too long, they will melt just like any other cheese.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What Are Some Of The Differences In Cheddar Cheese?

Cheddar is one of the most popular types of cheese in the world. It was first created in Cheddar in Somerset, England but since then it has spread around the world. Now you will notice that there are plenty of different types of it available, variations in color, sharpness and flavors as well as other factors. Here is everything you need to know about the differences between the various types of cheddar cheese including why these variations are made and how they affect the taste.


The most common difference you will find between the various types of cheddar cheese is sharpness. In general you will find three types: mild, medium and sharp although there are also other options such as extra sharp. The difference in the sharpness depends completely on the aging process. The longer it is aged, the sharper the cheese. In general, mild cheddar was aged for three months or more; medium was aged for between four and nine months and sharp (and other similar varieties) were aged for more than nine months. Usually they will not be older than seven years but in some cases you can find ten year old cheddar cheese.

Color Of Your Brick

Another thing you will notice is that cheddar cheese is usually yellow and in fact, this is the color that most people associate with this variety. Despite this, you will find white cheddars as well. Some people wonder what the difference between the yellow and white variety is but in reality there is no difference. It is simply that yellow cheddar contains a coloring additive that is all natural. This additive is called annatto and comes from the achiote tree. Despite changing the color, this additive has no effect on the taste.

Industrial Or Artisanal

Another difference is how it was made. Most of the time when you go to the grocery store, you will find industrially produced cheese. If you order specialty bricks, however, such as from websites or go to a farmer’s market, chances are that you will get an artisanal cheese. These tend to be more expensive tend to have more flavor as well as drier texture. This is because instead of using industrial techniques, artisans rely on the ancient cheese-making techniques to create their product.


One of the final differences you will find is the flavor. While most manufacturers and artisans alike will stick to the normal methods and simply make the classic flavors of mild, sharp, etc., some will add additional items. The highest quality items will be aged with the additional ingredients for the flavor, such as jalapeno peppers, already within the cheese. If you aren’t a fan of spice in your cheese, there are also plenty of other flavors added to cheddar cheese such as maple or smoked cheeses. Sometimes you will even find a combination of flavors such as smoked maple.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Is Cheddar Cheese Good For You?

For many years dieters have been told to avoid cheese as it can be high in calories and sodium. The fact of the matter, however, is that when eaten in moderation, certain cheeses such as cheddar can actually be very good for you. The only thing to keep in mind is to opt for lower fat versions when available and to always limit your intake. If you do that, you will be able to get all of the health benefits of cheddar cheese without any of the unwanted side effects such as problems with your cardiovascular health. Here are some of the reasons why cheddar cheese can be incredibly healthy making it an ideal addition to your diet.


Most people know that cheese is a good source of protein, but cheddar cheese in particular can do a great job at providing this necessary nutrient. Protein is needed to make sure your cells work properly and to maintain not only your muscles but also your organ tissues, skin and bones. If you have just one slice of cheddar cheese (which should be around one ounce), then you will get an amazing seven grams of protein. Keep in mind that women need around 46 grams a day while men need around 56 meaning that this can give you a great head start and in such a small bite.


Calcium is the one thing that everyone, no matter their knowledge or lack thereof when it comes to nutrition, knows you can get from dairy products. Of course, cheddar cheese is no exception. We need calcium to help make our bones and teeth strong. We also need it for the nervous system, our enzymes, hormones, blood vessels and muscles. If you have a slice of cheddar, you will get around 200 milligrams of this nutrient which is between a fifth and a sixth of what you need in one day.

Other Nutrients

In addition to providing calcium and protein, cheddar cheese can give you plenty of other nutrients as well. It
is a great source of both vitamin A and phosphorus. Vitamin A is necessary for our reproductive system, vision, immune system and bones while phosphorus helps with maintaining the health of our teeth and bones as well as tissue and cell growth. Cheddar can also give a good amount of zinc and vitamin D. One thing to keep in mind is that while reduced fat cheddar cheese is good for maintaining your weight, it will also reduce the amount of vitamin A and vitamin D as these are fat-soluble vitamins.

Other Benefits

Amazingly enough, the health benefits of cheddar cheese even extend to help preventing cavities. Doctors and dentists are still trying to figure out why exactly this works but they think that eating cheddar will stimulate your saliva flow. This in turn will help clear your food and therefore reduce your risk of developing cavities. Another great thing about cheddar is that unlike other cheeses, it doesn’t contain as much lactose which makes it great for those who are sensitive to digesting lactose.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Four Uses For Mozzarella Besides Italian Food

Mozzarella is one of the most popular cheeses, especially in the United States and with its great taste whether fresh or melted, it is no surprise. Because mozzarella is traditionally from Italy, however, most of the dishes that use it are Italian in nature. Think of your favorite pizza or a nice Caprese salad and you will see just how many of mozzarella’s uses involve Italian food. If you are looking for a use for your cheese that isn't Italian, however, you are not out of luck. Over the years, people have taken this cheese and started using it many other recipes. Here are some of the most popular uses.

Mozzarella Sticks

One of the uses of mozzarella cheese is to create one of the most popular appetizers in the United States: mozzarella sticks. You can find this dish at most restaurants and it is definitely one of the most delicious finger foods you can select for an appetizer. It relies on the ease with which mozzarella melts and combines that with some breading then is deep-fried to make it even more delicious. One thing does stick to its Italian roots, however, and that is the dipping sauce, marinara, which is an Italian classic.


When you think of a salad with mozzarella, you probably think of an Italian one, such as the Caprese salad, but this is not the only option. In reality, mozzarella makes a great addition to any type of salad, even those that aren't Italian in origin. It is a great way to add some extra flavor as well as nutrients to your favorite mixture of leafy greens and other vegetables. When choosing what to put on your salad, try to include some tomatoes as these are classically paired with mozzarella cheese and make a great combination.

Pasta Salad

Pasta may be Italian, but pasta salad is definitely not. Although it is most common in the United States for picnics and other summertime activities, you can eat it all year round. If you already have a great pasta salad recipe, try sprinkling a bit of shredded mozzarella on top of it and you will be impressed. If you are at a loss of what to include, try some black olives, roasted peppers and fresh herbs. Because you will be combining the mozzarella with other flavors it traditionally goes with, you will have no fears about the combination being


The last and possibly one of the most common uses for mozzarella cheese if you want to avoid Italian cuisine is on a sandwich. Here the options are truly limitless. You can combine it with fresh vegetables or savory meats. Keep in mind that although meats will work with mozzarella, your safest bet is to opt for some grilled or raw vegetables. If you love grilled cheese sandwiches and want to change it up a bit, why not swap out the American cheese for mozzarella? It will melt great and give it an amazing new flavor.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Five Of The Best Recipes For Cheese Curds

Deliciously squeaky and a favorite in several regions of the United States as well as Canada, these robust dairy bites are a delicacy for everyone.  While they can make a great snack when eaten raw by themselves that is not the only option. There are also plenty of delicious recipes that let you use them in to complement your favorite foods. Here are five of the best cheese curd recipes for your consideration.


If you have ever been to a fair in Wisconsin, you most definitely these treats there. They are a classic and incredibly delicious. To make them; sift together a cup of flour, 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and half a teaspoon of salt. Then add in half a cup of milk and two beaten eggs. Once the batter is smooth, then coat a pound of cheese curds in the mixture. Now fill a large skillet with oil and turn it up to medium heat. Fry your bundles until they are golden brown which should be about a minute each. Drain and enjoy!


Poutine is a Canadian classic that uses these dairy treats. It is basically fries with gravy and curds on top. To make it, cook some fries in oil (either in a skillet or deep fryer) and warm up some gravy. Cook the fries until they are light brown and then let them drain. Once the fries are nice and warm, put them on a plate then add your cheese and gravy (preferably beef gravy) and get ready to enjoy your dish.

Grilled Cheese With Bacon

Normally you would make grilled cheese with American, but these niblets can make a great variation. For this take, try using a slice of sharp cheddar cheese on your sandwich with about a quarter cup of cheese curds. While you are getting this ready, cook your bacon until it is crispy. Put your cheese and bacon on the bread and then cook until they are ready. If you want extra flavor, try adding a sauce made from mayonnaise, beef bouillon, Sriracha, salt, pepper, onion and cider vinegar.

Toppings For Panzanella

To make this delicious dish, mix two chopped tomatoes, two tablespoons of red wine vinegar, a clove of garlic, twelve chopped basil leaves, and a half a teaspoon of salt and four tablespoons of olive oil. Take one inch slices of a hearty bread (such as ciabatta) and cook them on a grill pan until they begin to crisp. Let them cool off the grill, replacing them with four ounces of cheese curds. Cook these until they are crisp on the underside but not melted all the way. Chop your bread into cubes and combine it with tomato mixture, adding your curds on top.


Everyone loves quesadillas and they are easy to make. Just replace whatever cheese you normally use with a cup of cheddar cheese curds (for four tortillas) and add whatever additional ingredients you want. Mushrooms or squash go especially well inside of these tortillas. Serve them with salsa and sour cream and enjoy.

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