The variety of cheeses available on the market can suit any taste, any palate and any chef's needs. For more than 4,000 years, cheese has been part of human culture and cuisine. Make it part of yours today.
Cheese is nutritious food made mostly from the milk of cows but also from other mammals, including sheep, goats and buffalo. Cheese has been around for over 4000 years. The following guideline will tell you everything that you need to know about cheese.
The “king of Cheeses”, Brie is a soft cows’ milk cheese named after the French province of Brie where it originated. Brie is perhaps the most well-known French cheese and is popular throughout the world. Brie may be produced from whole or semi-skimmed milk.
The curd is obtained by adding an enzyme (called rennet) to raw milk and heating it to a maximum temperature of 37 degree C. The cheese is then cast into molds. The 20cm molds are filled with several thin layers of cheese and drained for approximately 18 hours. The cheese is then taken out of the molds, salted, inoculated with cheese mold (generally Penicillium candidum) and aged in a cellar for at least 4 weeks.
A general classification for cheese made with cow and/or goat and sheep milk and a blue or blue-green mold. Many centuries ago, some cheese was left to age in a moldy cave and became streaked with bluish-green mold. Rather than spoiling the cheese, the mold gave it a pungent distinctive flavor, and blue cheese was born. Today the mold is injected into the cheese to ensure even distribution, but it is still aged in the same caves. Like almost all cheeses, blues should be brought to room temperature before serving. Some of the best blue cheeses are Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola, Danablu and Maytag Blue.
Cheddar cheese gets its name from the English village of Cheddar where it was originally made. Most domestic cheddars found in supermarkets taste like soapy plastic. Then there is the exquisitely delicious, rich and hard imported cheese that you’ll find in better gourmet stores. Cheddar cheese is made mostly from pasteurized cows’ milk. Some cheddars have more lactose in them, making them “sharp” or acidic. Less sharp cheddars are often labeled “mild” or “medium”. England supplies many fine Cheddars, as does Vermont and Tillamook, Oregon. Cheddar cheese contains turmeric, which gives it its color.
This popular cheese is an American knock-off of Switzerland’s Emmentaler cheese. The difference is that our domestic version usually has smaller holes (making it easier to slice) and is made from pasteurized milk. A good Swiss should be white or a slightly glossy cream color. It should have a mild, nutty-sweet taste and should be filled with shiny holes.
Double or triple cream (60% to 75% milk fat), Mascarpone is a key ingredient in Tiramisu and Zabaglione. It is velvety soft, slightly acidic and expensive. It is made from the milk of cows that have been fed special grasses filled with fresh herbs and flowered, a special diet that creates a unique taste often described as “fresh and delicious”.
Also know as Chevre, goat cheese is soft, fresh, unpressed and uncooked cheese made from goats’ milk. For longer storage, your goat cheese can be frozen in small packages (in quantities of one pound or less). As long as the cheese is in good condition and tightly wrapped, its flavor, texture and moisture content will remain unchanged. Thaw goat cheese slowly. Leave it undisturbed in the refrigerator for a period of 24 to 48 hours. Whatever you do, let the cheese warm to at least room temperature before serving to maximize flavor.
These are two kinds: low moisture mozzarella is firmer and the best choice for pizza, high moisture mozzarella is more delicate. It’s often drizzled with olive oil and serve uncooked with tomatoes and basil as an appetizer. The most highly prized is buffalo mozzarella. The plastic spun-curd buffalo milk mozzarella originated in southern Italy. Pasteurized milk is curdled at 90 degree F and the curd is cut. The curd is treated with extremely hot water (200 degree F) and is kneaded into a shiny lump.
Ricotta is a traditional, creamy whey cheese made from cows’ milk. This Italian fresh cheese is made from the watery whey that drained off in the production of mozzarella, provolone and other cheeses. Ricotta cheese is sweeter and smoother than cottage cheese and is much richer in calcium. You can eat it straight from the tub with fresh fruit but it’s more commonly used as an ingredient in pasta dishes and desserts. Italian ricotta cheeses are made exclusively with whey, while American versions add milk as a stretcher.
American cheese is a processed cheese product made from regular cheese and other unfermented dairy ingredients, plus emulsifiers, extra salt and food colorings. The best known processed cheese is orange in color and mild in flavor, with a medium firm consistency. It is commonly known in the US as American cheese and in Australia as Tasty Cheese. It is often sold in individually wrapped sandwich slices.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is a traditional, unpasteurized, hard cheese made from skimmed cows’ milk. Its flavor is unmistakably piquant, pungent and salty. Its color is fresh yellow and its aroma is sweet and fruity like pineapple. The best parmesan is the Northern Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano. A sprinkling of Parmigiano is good on anything. It is used in cooking lasagna a la Bolognese, inside tortellini stuffing, to flavor omelets, to create a really tasty soufflé, to garnish paper-thin slices of Carpaccio or to lend body and protein to tossed salads. This most particular cheese is a veritable symbol of Italy throughout the world. It is a light, easily digested and nutritious food.
Pecorino Romano is one of Italy’s oldest cheeses. Today most Pecorino is made in Sardinia, Italy. It is made from sheep’s milk, has a straw white color and is salty and firm, this makes it an excellent grating cheese that also works well as an ingredient because it doesn’t melt into strings when it’s cooked. This cheese can be a good substitute for Parmesan, although sharper in flavor and is considered a good cheese for use in sauces, salads or on pasta.