Sunday, July 30, 2017

Which Mozzarella Is The Best For A Cheese Tasting Party?

Hosting a cheese-tasting party can be a lot of fun or it can be stressful. There are so many things to think of; what types of cheeses to use being at the top of the list. Then you need to worry about what other foods to serve along with the cheeses. Crackers? Baguettes? Fruit? Veggies? All of the above? Relax! It’s a party! Put out the foods you want and like, and enjoy spending time with your guests. After all, a party should be more about friends and family than about the amazing spread you’ve been able to put out.
Including Mozzarella
When deciding on the variety of cheeses to have, one of them should be mozzarella. In case you didn’t know, mozzarella comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. There is the American version, store-bought from the dairy case of your favorite grocery store. This is probably fine, unless you have a “cheese snob” on your guest list. Some consider this version to be inferior, but if you like it, use it.
Buffalo Milk Mozzarella
Another twist on mozzarella is the mozzarella di bufala, which is made from rich Italian buffalo milk. Although much more expensive, it is highly praised for its buttery, fluffy texture. It can also be made from cow’s milk. It should be used when it is at its freshest. Mozzarella di Bufala goes very well with fruits.
Mozzarella Balls
Bocconcini mozzarella comes in bite-sized balls, making it perfect for a cheese tray. Bocconcini are most often made from cow’s milk. Try marinating them for an even tastier treat and some variety.
Smaller yet, ciliegine mozzarella balls are about the size of a cherry. In fact, the name comes from the Italian word for cherry. For something different, alternate ciliegine with cherry tomatoes on a skewer.
Smoked Mozzarella
No cheese tray would be complete without some smoked mozzarella. Either cow or buffalo milk mozzarella can be used. Usually this version is cold smoked over cherry wood, chestnut, alder, apple, pecan, or hickory, and acquires a lovely golden-brown color. Place small slices on crackers and melt in the oven just before serving. Or make small tomato and mozzarella finger sandwiches.
Scamorza is a firmer, drier version of mozzarella, and it comes in a pear or ball shape, either plain or smoked. It will melt well, so it works well on crackers or small squares of bread which are then toasted in the oven.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

What Is The Best Milk For Cheese Making?

Asking what the best milk is for cheese making is like asking what the best flavor is of ice cream. It all depends on what type of cheese you want, what flavor you enjoy the most, and what the cheese will be used for.
Milk Sources
Cheese can be made from the milk of several animals, including cow, goat, sheep, water buffalo, reindeer, yak, donkey, camel, and moose. Some are made with a combination of two or more milks. Many of the cheeses that Americans eat are made from cow’s milk. These include Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Muenster, and Parmesan. Romano cheese is made from sheep’s milk and Feta cheese is made from a blend of goat’s and sheep’s milks. Mozzarella cheese, that wonderfully gooey cheese that makes pizza what it is, was originally made from the milk of water buffalo. Most mozzarellas are now made from cow’s milk. Roquefort cheese is made from the milk of the Lacaune breed of sheep.
Raw Vs Pasteurization
Other than the type of mammal from which the milk comes, there is also the debate of whether it is best to use raw milk, pasteurized milk, ultra-pasteurized milk, ultra-high temperature pasteurized milk, or homogenized milk. The process of pasteurizing the milk is done by heating it to a certain temperature for a few seconds, which kills the harmful bacteria that may be in the raw milk. Depending on the length and temperature at which the milk is heated, all of the good bacteria is also destroyed. This affects the flavor of both the milk and cheese that is made from it.
It is recommended to not use ultra or ultra-high temperature pasteurized milk for cheese-making. Homogenized milk will work, however. Raw milk seems to be the preference for many cheese makers, especially those who make their own cheese at home, or artisan cheese makers. The raw milk gives a more robust flavor that many prefer. As long as the cows are healthy, the milk tested regularly for harmful bacteria, raw milk is probably safe to use. It is even possible to make “cheese” from soy or nut milks. But that’s a different story! Due to FDA regulations, cheese made from raw milk can only be sold in the United States if it is labeled as being unpasteurized and has aged at least 60 days, limiting the selection available somewhat, particularly compared to certain European countries.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

How Does The Aging Process Affect Different Cheddar Flavors?

Cheddar cheese just may be America’s favorite type of cheese. Used for grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and many other dishes, it is an all-around basic cheese. There are several levels of flavor in cheddar, and much of that difference is in the aging process. The longer the cheddar is aged, the sharper the flavor grows.
General Aging Timelines
Mild cheddar is generally aged for two or three months. Medium cheddar can be aged anywhere from four to eight months, although some can go as long as a year. Sharp cheddar sits for between one and two years, while extra-sharp cheddar is aged for two years or more. Some prime cheddars are aged as long as six years.
What Happens During Aging
As a cheese ages, the microbes and enzymes that are used to achieve the curdling of the milk target the milk fat molecules and the casein, a milk protein. As these two components are broken down, they become amino and amines acids along with fatty acids. The proportions of these two elements affect the cheese’s texture as it ages. The longer cheddar ages, the drier and more crumbly it becomes. It also becomes sharper in taste. Cheddars that are aged for only a short time are very mild in flavor and pliable in texture. These mild cheddars are often preferred for sandwiches as they are easier to slice. As the milk proteins and fats break down during the aging process, the cheddar dries, becomes much stronger in flavor and more crumbly. They also produce calcium lactate crystals. Some people enjoy the crunchy texture of these crystals.
How Storing Impacts Flavor
How the cheddar is stored during the aging process also has an effect on the flavor. Cheddar can be bandage wrapped or it can be allowed to generate a natural rind. Each of these processes will create different flavors even if every block of cheddar was made from the same batch and aged for the same length of time. One isn’t better than the other—except to individual taste buds—they are simply different. The wrapped or rinded cheddars have an earthier flavor to them. Appropriately enough, cheesecloth is often used to wrap the cheddar.
Final Influences On Flavor
The balance of moisture content, salt, and starter cultures all affect the cheddar as it ages, therefore impacting the flavor. The source of milk and the location where the cheese is produced also have an effect on the flavor of the cheddar as it ages. With so many variables at play, it is no wonder that cheddar can vary in flavor so greatly.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Does New York Cheese Stand Out From The Rest?

Cheese is made in many states, with the most prominent one being Wisconsin. California, Idaho, and Vermont are a few of the other states that are among the top cheese manufacturers. New York also makes this delicious dairy product, although it is possibly not as well known for its cheese production as some of the others.
Choosing The Best Cheese
Preference among the many varieties of cheeses is very personal. Each cheese lover is certain that his or her favorite cheese is the very best. This holds true not only of cheese varieties, but also of cheese makers and the origin of the cheese. Each state that is a major cheese producer is sure that theirs is the very best. But if a blind taste test were to be conducted, would you be able to identify a cheese’s state of origin based solely on its taste? Many people think they could.
How New York Cheese Stands Out
If such a test were to be conducted, what would make New York cheeses stand out from all of the other fine cheeses? Just what makes New York cheese special anyway? It is well known that a cow’s (or sheep’s or goat’s) milk is only as good as the feed it consumes. Cows that are fed on rich pasture grass are going to give a better-tasting milk than those that are fed on commercial feeds alone. Better tasting milk translates into better tasting cheese. New York dairy farmers know this, and they ensure that their herds are in the finest pastureland available for grazing.
Healthy cows produce better milk, too. Cheese lovers will be able to tell that New York farmers take the utmost care of their herd, keeping them healthy without the use of, or only minimal use of antibiotics, hormones, and other undesirable treatments. The milk houses are kept immaculate to avoid contamination of the milk. In the same way, the cheese-making facilities are kept spotless. Clean facilities promote the production of the high-quality cheeses for which New York is known.
Tasting The Difference
Best practices are followed for producing the finest cheeses. Cheddars are aged to perfection. Those cheeses that are wrapped or cured in a rind are monitored closely to ensure maximum flavor and quality. Known for their sharp cheddars, New York cheese makers know just how long to age the cheeses to attain that maximum sharpness that is so loved by many aficionados. New York cheese makers take pride in producing cheese that does in fact stand out from the crowd.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Delicious Things To Do With Cheese Curds

Cheese curds are sold in little bags of squeaky goodness and come in a variety of flavors. They are delicious and fun to eat, especially when fresh, but what else can you do with them?
1. Real Canadian Poutine
Possibly the best thing ever created north of the border, Poutine is a traditional dish from the Canadian province of Quebec. This super simple comfort food is the ideal way to eat cheese curds. Next time you're craving French fries and gravy, mix your favorite cheese curds in with the fries before slathering the dish with gravy. Voila! Poutine.
2. Cheese Curd Potato Salad
Another traditional comfort food, potato salad can be made a lot of ways. Every family has a favorite recipe, but they can almost always be made better by adding either plain cheddar curds. If you're brave, try adding some zing to your salad with Cajun or jalapeno cheddar curds.
3. Deep Fried Cheese Curds
You've had deep fried mozzarella sticks, right? Well, they are even better when made with cheese curds. All you have to do is substitute any kind of cheddar cheese curd for the regular mozzarella in the recipe. The big plus is the variety of flavors you can use when you choose cheese curds for this beloved appetizer.
4. Game Day Finger Food
Having a crowd over to watch the game? Switch it up a bit by putting out a few bowls of flavored cheddar cheese curds among the roasted nuts and guacamole. Provide napkins or toothpicks to keep the greasy fingerprints off the remote.
5. Road Trip Nourishment
Delicious, bite-sized cheese curds are the perfect snack to pull out when your passengers get restless on a long road trip. Bring along a few flavors, some napkins and see who can make the biggest squeak!
6. Mexican Lunch Wraps
Substitute your favorite cheese curds for the grated cheese in any lunch wrap recipe. Chop the larger pieces up for maximum chewiness, wrap it all up and enjoy!
7. Salad Topper
Skip the croutons next time you make a Caesar salad and add cheese curds instead. Or why not add them both? The potential for added flavor is only limited by the kind of cheese curds you choose. Just chop it up and top your salad. It's easy and adds some flare to a plain dish.
These are just a few examples of creative ways to spice up your diet with versatile, incredibly tasty cheese curds. A little brainstorming can give you even more options. 

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