All About Cheese
All About Cheese
Cheese is the perfect food—it’s great as an on-the-go snack, elegant appetizer, dessert, in sauces and as picnic fare paired with fruit, wine and crusty bread. Whether you're serving cheese formally or on the run, follow the tips below for a great presentation
- Plan to serve 2 to 4 ounces of cheese per guest.
- Create a cheese tray with three to five varieties of cheese for color, taste and texture. Try the wonderful artisan cheeses available at reasonable prices in groceries, co-ops, and on-line. Separate sharp and strong-flavored cheeses from mild cheeses when serving.
- Most cheeses should stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour before serving. Keep covered until serving to prevent drying out.
- Pair cheese with dried and fresh fruits, such as fresh or dried figs, dates, strawberries, grapes, sliced apples, pears, nectarines and peaches.
- Try pairing cheese with olives, pesto, mixed nuts, prosciutto (or thinly sliced ham), sliced salami or other cured meat to create a savory-flavored platter. Stronger cheeses also pair well with hearty breads and crackers.
- Provide a separate serving knife or cutter for each type of cheese.
- When cooking with cheese, shred or grate it first to speed melting and blending. Cook on low heat and add cheese last, stirring only until cheese is just melted. If adding cheese as a topping to a baked dish, add shredded cheese during the final 10 to 15 minutes of baking to avoid overbrowning.
Types of Cheese
Cheeses fall into four categories, depending on the way the cheese is processed:
- Natural cheese
- Pasteurized process cheese
- Cheese food
- Pasteurized cheese spread
- Natural cheeses are made from the cream or milk (whole, skim or sometimes raw) of cows, sheep or goats. The milk is treated with heat, smoke, bacteria or other agents to make it curdle; then the curds (solids) are separated from the whey (liquid). The curds may or may not be aged (ripened).
- Unripened (fresh) cheeses include cottage cheese and cream cheese and may be flavored with herbs, spices and bits of fruit.
- Ripened (aged) cheeses include Cheddar and Parmesan. Aged cheese is further processed by being colored, shaped or coated in wax and may also be flavored with herbs, spices and bits of fruit.
Pasteurized Process Cheese
- Pasteurized process cheese is a blend of one or more varieties of natural cheese that are ground and heated.
- Because the pasteurization process stops ripening, cheese flavor doesn't change and the cheeses keep well.
- Pasteurized process cheese often is flavored with herbs, spices and bits of fruit, vegetables and meat. American cheese is probably the most well-known pasteurized process cheese.
- Cheese food is one or more varieties of natural cheese made without heat (cold-pack method) or with heat (pasteurized process cheese method).
- Cheese food has a higher percentage of moisture than either natural or pasteurized process cheese because dairy products such as cream, milk, skim milk or whey are added.
- Cheese food is usually sold in tubs or jars and is often flavored.
Pasteurized Cheese Spread
- Pasteurized cheese spread is higher in moisture and lower in fat than cheese food and includes cheese in aerosol cans.
- Pasteurized cheese spread is spreadable at room temperature.
Cooking with Reduced-Fat Cheese
The virtue of reduced-fat cheese lies in its lower fat and calorie content. Many cheeses are naturally lower in fat, such as mozzarella, string, farmer's cheese, Neufchâtel, ricotta and uncreamed cottage cheese. These cheeses are made from skim or part-skim milk.
Other cooking cheeses are widely available in reduced-fat form, including Cheddar, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Brie, Swiss, Colby, Muenster and American. Lower fat content means milder flavor, texture and different cooking characteristics because the cheese contains less milk fat.
Try these tips for cooking with reduced fat cheese:
- Avoid melting reduced-fat cheeses under broilers or toasters. They tend to toughen under direct heat.
- Cook reduced-fat cheeses on low heat, stirring slowly and in one direction. Increase cooking time by about 25 percent to make sure reduced fat cheese melts properly.
- Add flour or cornstarch to shredded reduced-fat cheeses to help them blend more smoothly into sauces. Betty Crocker Gold Medal® all-purpose flour is great for this purpose.
- Another way to reduce fat in cheese is to cook with aged cheese. They’re flavorful, so you can use less in some recipes. When cooking or baking with cheeses such as sharp aged Cheddar, Parmesan, Asiago, Gorgonzola and provolone, the fat content is kept in check because you're working with smaller portions.
Published on: 2004-07-06 (7471 reads)[ Go Back ]