Sunday, November 29, 2015

What Will You Find At A Cheese Festival?

Because cheese is such a popular food item, it should come as no surprise that you can find cheese festivals throughout the country and even around the world. Most major cheese organizations host their own events and many communities do as well. Areas known for the cheese, such as Wisconsin and Vermont, will also host state cheese festivals. In addition to cheese itself, you may be wondering what else you will find at one of these festivals. There is frequently music and other typical festival activities, but also things unique to cheese festivals.

Cheese Tasting

Probably the most important part of any cheese festival will be the cheese. Although the setup can vary greatly, there will almost always be the opportunity to sample different types of cheese. There may be individual cheese sellers offering samples in hopes that you buy their product. There may even be a designated cheese tasting area where you can taste several different types in one spot. Sometimes this type of cheese tasting will be included in your admission and sometimes it will be a small additional fee.

Beer And Wine Tasting

Although it is not always the case, many cheese festivals offer also smaller areas or events for tasting beer and/or wine. Since these are the two beverages that classically pair with cheese, you will find at least the ability to buy a glass at most cheese festivals. There are also some festivals equally dedicated to cheese and wine.

Cheese Competitions

Many cheese festivals, particularly the larger ones or those hosted by cheese organizations, will feature cheese competitions as well. This is the chance for those who make their own cheese at home to show off their skills. There will be professional cheese judges who are looking for specific characteristics and at least one winner who has made the best cheese.

Cheese Classes

In addition to being about having fun, cheese festivals will typically offer an educational component as well. In many cases, this comes in the form of cheese classes or workshops where you can learn about pairings, the types of cheese, or a similar topic. These classes will typically be led by a cheese expert to offer the most information.

Items For Sale

As with any other festival, expect to find items for sale at one dedicated to cheese. There will obviously be cheese sellers, but there will probably also be people selling items to pair with cheese, such as wine, meat, or crackers. You might also find books dedicated to teaching you about cheese or simply about enjoying this item.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Stocking Stuffer Ideas For The Cheese Lover

If you have a cheese lover on your holiday list, then shopping for them will be incredibly easy. There are plenty of great cheese related presents. If you want to give a large present, then consider a cheese gift basket, but if you are just looking for smaller stocking stuffers, then you will have plenty of choices as well.

Cheese Knives

Cheese knives are the perfect present for a cheese lover who is just beginning to venture into the world of fine cheeses. In the beginning, many people rely on their standard table or cooking knives to cut cheese, but when you try higher quality items, this just won’t do. By getting your loved one some cheese knives, you will help them expand their palate while preserving the texture and shape of various cheeses. If your friend already has all the cheese knives they need, then consider a cheese plane or high-quality cheese grater.

Cheese Of The Month Club

Depending on your budget, you may be looking for a stocking stuffer that is cheap or just one that is small. If you are willing to spend a bit more on this particular gift for the cheese lover in your life, then consider signing them up for a cheese of the month club. Many specialty cheese retailers (both online and physical stores) have these clubs and every month for a year, they will send you a certain number of cheeses to try. This is a great stocking stuffer if you want your loved one to be thinking of you every month or to simply be able to enjoy their present year round.

A Cheese Book

If your friend or family member is serious about their love of cheese, then consider getting them a book all about it. There are plenty of great options, including “It’s Not You, It’s Brie: Unwrapping America’s Unique Culture of Cheese” by Kirstin Jackson.

Cheese Storage Supplies

A great stocking stuffer for cheese-loving family members is the proper equipment to store it. In order for cheese to last and to prevent mold and bacterial growth, you need to wrap it in special cheese paper, or something similar. Getting your friend or family member some of this paper is incredibly affordable, and the present is small enough to fit in a stocking.

Cheese Markers

Getting cheese markers is the perfect gift for a cheese lover who enjoys hosting the occasional cheese tasting party. You can find some porcelain options that are reusable, as the label will simply wipe off so your friend or family member can use them again and again.

Monday, November 23, 2015

What Do Cheesemongers Do?

As you begin to get more familiar with the cheese industry, you will start to hear the term cheesemonger used semi-frequently. This is especially true for those who visit smaller cheese retailers or talk to cheese experts. Simply put, cheesemongers are professionals with a vast amount of knowledge concerning every aspect of cheese. Other than this, the specifics concerning a particular cheesemonger may vary based on their training, interest, and job.

Cheesemonger History

Throughout history, a cheesemonger has been a merchant with a specialty in selling cheese and some people also call them cheese stewards. The term “mangere” is Old English for a person who works with a particular commodity. That means that the term cheesemonger literally means “someone who sells cheese.” Some people will mistakenly call a cheesemonger a fromager. In reality, however, this French term refers to cheesemakers, something which most cheesemongers are not.

Typical Job

In most cases, a cheesemonger will own a small cheese store. They may also be in charge of purchasing the cheese for a specialty restaurant or food store. As mentioned earlier, cheesemongers do not usually make the cheese themselves. Instead, they know larger cheese suppliers and perhaps local farmers, something which lets them buy and sell cheese of the highest quality available. If you visit a shop with a cheesemonger, they should be able to offer recommendations for pairings of cheese with other items, both beverages and food.


You won’t find any formal training program for becoming a cheesemonger. Instead, a person can do as much or as little training as they need to gain the necessary knowledge and experience concerning cheese. Some people may find a specialty cheese company or a cheesemonger to serve an apprenticeship with. Others will attend the American Cheese Society’s seminars or become certified by this society.


There are also many cheesemongers who are affineurs as well. This term applies to anyone who knows how to properly ripen cheese. This is crucial as there are many cheese varieties that need to be further matured after buying them initially from the manufacturer. One example would be Parmesan, as it needs between 10 and 18 months to ripen. Becoming an affineur can take years as the knowledge and processes are difficult to master.

Your Interactions

You are most likely to meet a cheesemonger if you visit a specialty cheese shop as the best ones should have one of these professionals on hand. Even some online cheese retailers will have a cheesemonger on staff that is willing to communicate with you online or on the phone to help you select the right cheese and pairings.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

How To Become A Certified Cheese Professional

It is easy for someone to call themselves a cheese expert, but to actually become certified as one, they need to undergo a great deal of training and experience. You don’t necessarily need to be a certified cheese professional in order to be an expert in the field, but it helps confirm your knowledge so everyone else knows that you aware of all the details concerning cheese.

Certified Cheese Professional Exam

The way to officially become a certified cheese professional is to take the exam offered by the American Cheese Society (ACS). Their exam is known as the Certified Cheese Professional Exam (CCPE) and is actually the only examination of this type. When you pass the exam, you receive the title of ACS CCP, which stands for ACS Certified Cheese Professional. The certification exam lasts three hours and involves 150 different multiple choice questions that cover all the knowledge a cheese expert would need to know, including items that most people would not necessarily see as related to the profession.


Before taking the exam, you have to prove that you are eligible to take it. You have to have either completed high school or earned your GED in order to show basic literacy skills. Additionally, you need to have 4,000 hours of documentable work (paid or unpaid) that is directly related to the cheese profession within the previous six years. It is possible to have 2,000 hours from the cheese profession and 2,000 hours from professional development, continuing education, and formal education. The ACS lists acceptable work experience for this requirement as being: cheese manufacturing or making, cheese commerce or sales, writing related to cheese, professional teaching or consultation, being a cheese educator, and managing cheese (or working with it extensively) in a restaurant or food store.

Information You Need To Know

There is a vast amount of information that you need to know in order to pass the cheese examination. This includes nine different categories: regulations and regulators, cheese service, cheese evaluation and assessment, cheese categories and types, merchandising and marketing cheese, cheese transportation and storage, cheese ripening, processes of cheesemaking, and raw materials needed for cheesemaking.

Other Options

If you do not want to go through the entire process of becoming a certified cheese professional, but want some sort of certification, there are also various short certification programs that you can take, such as master classes and intensive cheese education programs. These certifications have fewer requirements, but also require much less time to achieve.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thanksgiving Dishes That Are Highlighted With Cheese

Thanksgiving is that special time of year when we gather with family and friends to remember all that we have to be thankful for. But, no doubt about it, the day revolves around food. Some people have strict traditional menus they never vary from year after year. But if you are the type who likes to experiment with different foods, or if you are planning a couple of Thanksgiving get-togethers and need some new ideas, here are some for you to consider. Some are old favorites, maybe one or two will be new to you.

The Cheese Tray

The must-have cheese tray can be dressed up for Thanksgiving with just a little effort and creativity. Cut circles of a deep yellow/orange cheese, cutting off a small slice at the bottom of the circle. Using thin strips of red, yellow, and green bell peppers, form a “turkey tail” around the sides and top of the cheese circle. Cut a black olive to form legs and feet. Cut a small cheese oval for the head and use tiny bits of olive for the eyes. Cutting the cheese circle just a bit differently will form a pumpkin. Use a short strip of green pepper for the stem.

Twice-baked Potatoes

Scrub and bake one baking potato for each person. When baked, cut in half and scoop out the flesh. Mash with a dab of cream, salt, and butter. Refill the potato skin shell, then top with grated cheese, such as Gouda or Swiss.  Just before serving, pop them back into the oven long enough to heat through and melt the cheese.

Macaroni & Cheese

Even the common, everyday mac and cheese can be gussied up for Thanksgiving. Try adding some diced, cooked turkey to your favorite mac and cheese recipe. Crush seasoned dry stuffing bread, mix with some butter or margarine and sprinkle on top of the mac and cheese for the last 10 minutes or so of baking time. Bake it in your prettiest casserole dish.

Apple Pie

What’s Thanksgiving without a home-baked apple pie? Serve yours with dainty slices of cheddar on the side for a classy touch.

Cheese Sauce

Both broccoli and cauliflower are enhanced with a delicate cheese sauce to drizzle over them. Consider replacing the traditional green bean bake with a pretty serving bowl filled with steamed broccoli and cauliflower florets dressed with cheese sauce.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Guide To Cheese Rinds

Rinds can be a confusing topic for cheese lovers as some cheeses contain them, while others don’t. To make matters more difficult to understand, there are multiple different types of rinds as well. In reality, it just takes a little bit of knowledge to understand what exactly a rind is, the various types, and whether you can eat it. Simply put, the rind is the exterior layer of the cheese and it is a natural part of the cheese aging process. Here are the main types and all you need to know about eating them.

Bloomy Rinds

Bloomy rinds are almost always soft and white and they may also be fuzzy. These are formed by spraying a solution that contains edible mold spores on the cheese before or during the aging process. Because the room in which cheese ripens is humid, the mold will grow, creating a rind in a process known as blooming. You will find bloomy rinds on Brie, Camembert, and Saint Andre.

Washed Rinds

If a cheese has a reddish or orange hue, then it is probably has a washed rind. To create these rinds, cheesemakers will wash the cheese with alcohol and/or brine. This then creates the ideal damp environment for B. linens and other edible molds. Washed rind cheeses are sometimes known as stinky cheese due to their strong smell and flavor. Cheeses with washed rinds include Red Hawk, ColoRouge, and Epoisses.

Natural Rinds

The final type of rind is a natural rind and these require minimal intervention in order to form. When cheese matures in a room with controlled humidity and temperature, the air will naturally dry out the outer layer of cheese. This causes a thin crust to form over time, creating the rind. Cheesemakers always watch the formation of natural rinds and will even occasionally rub them with oil during the formation. You can find a natural rind on Parmigiano-Reggiano, Stilton, Tomme de Savoie, and Montgomery Cheddar.

Are They Edible?

Generally speaking, any rind will be a natural part of the cheese and completely edible. There are some times you should not eat the rind, however, such as if a bloomy rind tastes like ammonia, has a texture that is gritty, or is separated slightly from the cheese. Don’t eat a washed rind if it tastes extremely salty. Other than that, the only question as to whether or not you should eat the cheese rind is whether you like the flavor. Some people find it overpowering, and the best way to tell this is to eat your cheese from the inside out. As you approach the rind, the flavors will intensify and if it gets too strong before you reach the rind, you probably won’t enjoy the flavor of the rind itself. Even then, however, you may like the rind in a soup, so consider using it as part of your stock.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cheese Crystals: Feature Or Flaw?

If you ever eaten a well-aged cheese, or even just seen one, then you are probably aware of cheese crystals. These small, crunchy crystals are a natural part of aging and over the years, there has been a great deal of debate over them. Some people view them as a flaw in cheese, while others say they are simply a natural part of the aging process of cheese, adding some texture, and with no negative health effects.

Which Cheeses Have Them

The most likely cheeses to contain these cheese crystals are aged ones, particularly cheese that has aged for a longer period of time. This means that well-aged Parmigiano Reggiano, mountain cheeses (like Pleasant Ridge Reserve or Gruyere), and aged Goudas can all contain these crystals. Even super aged cheddar has cheese crystals, although in that case they are slightly different, although similar enough for most people to lump them under the same category.

What Are Cheese Crystals?

Before you can decided whether cheese crystals are a feature or a flaw, it helps to understand what exactly they are. They are known as tyrosine crystals as that is the substance they are made of. Each crystal is an amino acid cluster that forms as your favorite cheeses age. Tyrosine, a non-essential amino acid, can be found in casein, which is the dominant milk protein.

Despite tyrosine being present in almost all cheese, the tyrosine clusters only appear in some. This is because all cheese contains protein chains which trap fat and protein within them. If the cheese ages for a long time, the protein chains will unravel, leaving these tyrosine deposits.

The View Of Cheese Experts

If you see cheese crystals in a processed, mass-produced cheese, then it is probably a flaw and you will not want to buy that cheese. If, however, you notice them in a well-aged cheese of high-quality, then cheese experts tend to unanimously agree that they are an excellent feature to have in your cheese.

These experts see the crystals as a great way to naturally break up the texture when a cheese is a smooth paste, as they add a nice bit of crunch to the cheese. Many people even say that the crystals interact nicely with your beverage. One example would be eating a super-aged cheddar with cheese crystals while drinking a full-bodied stout as the textural intensity of the cheese’s crunchiness helps match the beer’s fullness. Even the American Cheese Society takes the view that these cheese crystals are a feature and they aim to spread this philosophy.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Cheese

For most people, having cheese around is simply an expected part of life. This means that they don’t necessarily put a lot of thought into the cheese they are eating and therefore don’t know that much about it. There are some basics about cheese that most people know, such as that it is a dairy product and it is aged, but for some, that is as far as the knowledge goes. Here are some facts that even those in the know probably weren’t aware of concerning cheese.

Top Producer

When it comes to which country in the world produces the most cheese, it is the United States. In fact, as of 2006, the U.S. was producing almost four million metric tons of cheese or 30 percent of that produced worldwide. While those figures are a few years old, they are still relevant as the world of cheese is not changing that significantly.

Most Expensive

If you are curious about the most expensive cheese that you can get anywhere in the world, then turn to Sweden. There you will find cheese made exclusively from three moose: Juna, Haelga, and Gullan. These moose are tame, making them incredibly rare, and they live on a farm found in Bjursholm, Sweden. To make the cheese even more expensive, it takes two hours to milk the moose and that process can only take place at certain times of the year, leading to a cheese worth $500 a pound.

Most Popular

The most popular cheese around the world is cheddar, if you use the name to refer to the particular cheesemaking process as opposed to the cheese from the particular region within Somersetshire, Great Britain. Cheddar can be made worldwide and everyone loves it. In fact, Americans tend to eat more than 8.8 pounds of cheddar annually per capita.

Biggest Consumers

A lot of people would probably guess that the French are the biggest consumers when it comes to cheese, but they would actually be wrong. The last survey about cheese consumption was a while ago (in 2003), but it showed the surprising results that Greeks consume the most cheese out of anyone. They eat around 60.6 pounds of cheese every year, with the vast majority being feta. The French were the second biggest consumers of cheese as of the study (with 52.9 pounds a person annually), but they also eat more varieties instead of sticking to one favorite.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Who Will Enjoy A Cheese Of The Month Club?

There are plenty of different mailings you can sign up for that involve receiving monthly boxes of a specific type of good from food items to beauty products. One of the most popular options is a cheese of the month club and you will find these from many different cheese specialty shops, including online retailers. The appeal of these clubs is obvious as they let you try a range of cheeses without ever having to leave your home. Despite that, some people wonder who exactly will enjoy being part of one of these clubs; here are just some ideas.

Cheese Experts

A lot of times, a cheese of the month club will send you unusual cheeses that you aren’t likely to find anywhere else. Because of this, cheese experts tend to enjoy them. Even if the club usually sends common cheeses with the occasional rare one, it is a great way for a cheese expert to ensure they always have some high-quality cheese on hand.

Those New To Cheese

Even though cheese experts will enjoy a cheese of the month club, so will people who are their opposite: completely new to cheese. Whether this means someone who was previously a vegan or someone who has only had the chance to sample very limited flavors in their lives, a cheese of the month club can be great. It is the perfect way to easily get to know different cheeses, including what they are called, what they look like, and how they taste.

People Who Want To Try New Things

Some people are already fairly familiar with cheese, but still feel like they have much more to learn and experience when it comes to this delicious food. These people see a cheese of the month club as a great way to try new flavors and tastes without having to make a complicated decision of which cheese to buy or trying to find it.

Those In Rural Areas

A final group of people who would absolutely love to be part of a cheese of the month club are those living in rural areas or any area that does not have a cheese shop nearby, or any other place within a close drive to buy higher-quality or unusual types of cheese. For these people, receiving cheese in the mail each month is the easiest way to have a steady stream of quality cheese without having to drive for hours every few weeks.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Which Cheeses Are The Most Popular?

No matter what type you are talking about, cheese is an incredibly popular dish. It is delicious whether fresh or melted and there are dozens of different varieties, meaning you always have a new type to try. Many people find themselves wondering which cheeses are the most popular and while the answer will vary from country to country, the following are the most popular in the United States.


The number one cheese in the United States in terms of popularity is mozzarella, partially because it is so commonly used on pizzas. Mozzarella is a fresh cheese that is mild in taste and unripened. It can be white, pale yellow, or anything in between and has a lot of moisture. You should always use fresh mozzarella within a few days and instead of sticking to using it on pizzas, try getting creative and adding it to baked pasta, paninis, or salads.


Although all cheddar is incredibly popular, sharp cheddar is one of the most popular variations of it. This semi-firm cheese can be orangey yellow or pale in color. Kids love this cheese in macaroni and cheese or grilled cheese sandwiches, but it works in most recipes since it melts so well. Many people also enjoy it with crackers as a snack.


This Italian cheese is aged for between one and two years and is sold both grated and as a block or wedge. You should always get it ungrated if you can as this will preserve the flavor and avoid mass-produced Parmesan. Instead, buy it from a quality cheese store to taste the real flavors of the cheese. Parmesan is particularly popular on salads, in sauces, and on pasta.


Blue cheese is strongly flavored, pungent, and creamy. This is a type of blue-veined cheese that is made with Peniccilium roqueforti, a type of mold which produces these blue veins. Blue cheese is especially delicious on sourdough bread or crackers or with some sliced apples or pears. Always make sure to eat blue cheese at room temperature.


Ricotta is one of the most popular fresh cheeses in the United States and it is light, mild, and creamy. It has a hint of sweetness, which is why it is commonly used in Italian desserts in addition to pasta dishes. It is a delicious addition to ravioli (as the stuffing) or lasagna or you can fill cannoli with it by mixing it with sugar, chocolate chips, and vanilla. Ricotta even works well in cheesecake.

Honorable Mentions

Other cheeses that are incredibly popular include Jack, Swiss, American, Provolone, Feta, cream cheese, goat cheese, and Asiago.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Why Buy Flavored Cheddar

When most people think of the different flavors of cheddar cheese, they stick to the basics, such as mild, sharp, and extra sharp. In reality, however, there are plenty of flavored variations of cheddar from those that have flavor infused through natural smoking to those that are made with spices. Many of the flavored cheeses you will find are actually cheddar and that is because this particular cheese combines beautifully with many different spices.

Common Flavors

Probably the most common flavor of cheddar cheese (other than mild, sharp, or extra sharp) is horseradish. Even if it doesn’t say it in an obvious location, most horseradish cheese is made from cheddar with some flavoring added in. Jalapeno cheddar is also very popular as is naturally smoked cheddar, such as one with a smoked maple flavor. If you venture into the realm of cheddar cheese curds, you will find even more flavors, such as bacon and horseradish, dill, garlic, ranch, and buffalo wing.


Probably the biggest reason people choose to buy flavored cheddar is for the convenience factor. If you are cooking with cheddar, you won’t have to add as many extra ingredients to the dish in order to get a lot of different flavors. Even if you are simply snacking on cheese and crackers, you will get more flavor without having to sprinkle herbs, spices, or vegetables on top.

Try Something New

Another great reason to buy flavored cheddar cheese is that it gives you the chance to try something new. Most people haven’t necessarily had flavored cheddar before and maybe haven’t even eaten cheddar with some of the popular flavor combinations, such as combining cheddar and horseradish in a dish. Opting for a flavored cheddar lets you easily try your favorite cheese with new flavors without having to put in the extra effort or worrying about whether your combination will taste good. Best of all, if you buy your cheese from a specialty store, they will be able to tell you what goes well with it to take out the guesswork of pairings. Any online cheese retailer, for example, will tell you that jalapeno cheddar goes great with watermelon, plums, and mangos.

From Quality Retailer

If you start looking for flavored cheddar, you will notice that it is mostly sold by specialty cheese shops or online retailers. Even if that means it is a bit more expensive, this is great news. That is because cheese from these retailers will be fresher (or aged the amount it says) and of a high quality. You will even get superb customer service from these stores, including the online ones.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Whether You Should Buy Pre-Grated Cheese

Depending on the type of cheese you are eating and how you plan on using it, it can seem like a very convenient option to simply buy a pre-grated or shredded version of it. While this is definitely a convenient choice, it doesn’t usually make sense in regards to other factors. That means that unless you are buying pre-grated cheese from a high-quality cheese shop and know the ingredients and freshness, you should probably stick to the wheels or chunks. Here are just some things to consider.


One of the first things you’ll notice when you start comparing a chunk of cheese to the same cheese in pre-grated form is the cost. In some cases, it may cost twice or three times as much money to buy it grated and this is because companies can upcharge for the convenience factor. That means that if you have time to grate your own cheese, it will make financial sense.


The real problem with most commercially-produced pre-grated or shredded cheese is that it will contain questionable ingredients. If you buy cheese and grate it yourself, it will simply be the cheese. If, however, you buy shredded cheese from a mass-producer without reading the label, you can find yourself eating natamycin, powdered cellulose, and potato starch. None of those items are necessary in cheese and cellulose is actually a derivative of wood pulp. While none will necessarily harm you, they won’t add any nutritional value to your cheese.


The final crucial thing to think about when comparing pre-grated cheese to a block or wheel of it is how fresh the cheese is. Because grated cheese has to go through an extra step before it can be packaged, it will always be at least slightly older. While the natamycin in it should help preserve the cheese and prevent mold growth, fresh cheese will be more flavorful, healthier, and have a better consistency.

When It’s Okay To Buy

Despite all the cautions against buying pre-grated cheese, there are some times when it makes sense to buy it, such as when you are on a very tight schedule. If you really want to buy grated cheese, try to opt for a type that is typically firm and aged anyway, such as grated Parmesan. Even then, you should make a conscious effort to buy it from a specialty cheese retailer as opposed to your local grocery store as it won’t have as many additives and it will be much fresher.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Provolone

When it comes to cheese, there are a large number of varieties available, making it incredibly challenging to keep them all straight. Provolone is an Italian cheese that is white to yellow and has a firm texture to match its buttery flavor. Because of its mild texture and flavor, provolone is commonly found in sandwiches, cheese platters, and other cooked dishes.


Provolone cheese was first developed in Italy, specifically in the southern area of the country. The name of the cheese “Provolone” actually means “large Provola,” with Provola being another type of cheese from the area. Traditionally, provolone was semi-hard in texture and that is still true today.

Types Of Provolone

There are two different types of provolone cheese: Provolone Dulce and Provolone Piccante. Provolone Dulce is younger, being aged for two or three months. This cheese tends to be white to pale yellow in color and have a slightly sweet taste. The other type, Provolone Piccante, is aged for over four months, making it more aged. This extra time aging means that the cheese has a sharper taste, more pronounced flavor, and appears to have more yellow coloration.

If you see a cheese called Provolone Val Padana, then it can only be a specific type of cheese as the name and designation is protected thanks to the European Union. The Consorzio del Formaggio Tipico Provolone regulates the provolone with this name and it is a traditional version of the cheese. It is made in northern Italy and many of the cheesemakers who produce this type of provolone have been doing so for centuries. Provolone Val Padana frequently has a traditional rounded pear shape with a knob or it may have a longer sausage shape.

Suggested Pairings

It is very popular to use provolone cheese in cooking items such as pasta, grilled cheese, and macaroni and cheese. It also goes well with sandwiches when thinly sliced. The light smokey flavor tends to add a hint of flavor to a dish. It goes well with Italian meats, such as salami, pepperoni, and Italian sausage as well as chorizo. You can also pair it with pineapple, mangos, and berries. Beer lovers should try provolone with a stout, porter, or pale lager while wine lovers would like the combination with Riesling, Chianti, or Chardonnay.


In case nutrition is an important factor for you when selecting your cheese, a cup of diced provolone is around 132 grams and this includes around 463 calories and 35 grams of fat. Keep in mind that provolone sometimes has a large amount of sodium, but it makes up for this with protein and calcium.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What Items Can You Find In A Cheese Gift Basket?

When most people think of a cheese gift basket, they imagine a basket that is stuffed with different types of cheese, but not necessarily anything else. It is true that cheese is the main component of any cheese gift basket, but it is not the only item in every case. You will find some baskets with only cheese, while others will give you a complete set, including everything you need to go with the cheese and enjoy a delicious snack or meal.


As you would imagine, any cheese basket will contain at least some cheese. In most cases, there will be at least two or three different varieties of cheese. These may have the same theme, such as Italian cheeses, or be very different from each other to offer a range of options including soft and firm cheeses with varying flavors.

Cured Meats

It is also very common to find some sort of cured meat in a cheese gift basket as many people choose to serve cheese with meat. A gift basket with Italian cheeses, for example, may contain pepperoni sticks. You can also find gift baskets with cheese as well as ham, prosciutto or other cured meats that go well with the particular cheeses included.

Crackers And Bread

If you select a cheese gift basket that is designed to offer everything you need, it will probably include some sort of crackers or similar items as well. In some cases, a basket may even include bread of some sort, although this is a bit more challenging due to freshness and portability. Typically the crackers or bread included in a gift basket will be of high quality or feature unique flavors, such as olive oil as they are designed to go well with the included cheese.

Spreads And Honey

The final type of food item you will frequently find in your gift basket with cheese is a spread of some sort. This may be something seemingly simple such as fresh, natural honey or it may be something a bit more exciting, like a special jam or chutney. In some cases, there will also be easily transportable fruits to accompany the cheese, such as dates.

Informational Guides

Depending on where you get the cheese gift basket from, it may also include an informational guide of some sort, and this is particularly common among baskets from cheese specialty retailers. This guide will tell you about all of the cheeses (and other items) included in the basket and probably suggest pairings as well.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

What Gives Smoked Cheese The Robust Flavor

Smoked cheeses have a nutty flavor that is very different from fresh cheese. There are several varieties of smoked cheeses that are commonly sold. These include Cheddar, Scamorza, Oscypek, Sulguni, Rauchkase, Provolone, Gouda, and Gruyere.

Process And Methods
In order to effectively smoke a cheese, it must first be dried to the point that a tacky skin, called a pellicle, forms on the outside. This allows the smoke to better adhere to the cheese.

There are two major methods used to smoke foods—the cold-smoking process and the hot-smoking process. Cheese smoking is usually done by the cold-smoking method, as the hot-smoking method would cause the cheese to sweat or ooze. There are also a couple of other methods for imparting the smoke flavor to cheese.

Cold smoking is done by utilizing some method of suspending the cheese over a very low fire, at temperatures between 68 and 86 degrees Farenheit. This process can take up to a month. Applewood is often the wood of choice to burn during the smoking process.

A third method is sometimes used for less expensive cheeses, and that is to use an artificial smoke flavor. Obviously, this is not a true smoked cheese, but just a smoke-flavored cheese. Some cheese makers use a distilled hickory smoke to blend into the cheese to give it a full, robust flavor.

If you would like to try smoking your own cheese at home, you can use any type of cheese except a cheese that is too soft and would fall through the grate. You can purchase a cold smoker machine to use at home.

As mentioned previously, apple wood is often burned to smoke cheese, but cherry wood is used also. A specific combination of these two woods infuses the cheese with a fruity essence that complements the robust, nutty flavor of many cheeses.

Hickory wood is also used to smoke Cheddar cheese, and gives it a particularly robust and nutty flavor. It can be used in cheese that is used to make a cheese spread.

Another wood used in the smoking process is maple wood. This wood gives Cheddar a great robust flavor.

Other Woods
There are several other woods that are used to a lesser extent in smoking foods, including cheeses. Each one will give a somewhat different flavor. These can include pecan wood, almond, beech, chestnut, cottonwood, and grapevines.

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