ABC – A Basic Cheese Introduction!
Cheese is a dairy product, which we all know, and it’s derived from milk that is produced in a wide range of flavours, textures, and formed by coagulation of the milk protein casein. They comprise of proteins and fats from milk, typically, milk of cows, buffaloes, goats and sheep. There are also cheese producers that use other domestic mammals that are common to the United States. What’s queer is that there are some cheeses which are produced with the use of milk from camels, yaks, donkey or even ewes! Imagine that!
Hundreds of cheese types from various countries are produced. Their styles, textures and flavours depend on the origin of the milk (including the animal’s diet), whether they have been pasteurised, the butterfat content, the bacteria and mould, the processing, and the ageing. Herbs, spices, or wood smoke may also be used as flavouring agents. The yellow to red colour of many cheeses, such as Red Leicester, is produced by adding annatto. Other ingredients such as black pepper, garlic, chives or cranberries may be added to some cheeses too.
Cheese is valued for its portability, long shelf life, and high content of fat, protein, calcium, and phosphorus. Cheese is more compact and has a longer shelf life than milk too! But of course, the shelf life of a cheese depends on the type of cheese it is; labels on packets of cheese often claim that a cheese should be consumed within three to five days of opening. Generally speaking, hard cheeses, such as parmesan lasts longer than soft cheeses, like Brie or goat’s milk cheese. The long storage life of some cheeses, especially when encased in a protective rind, allows selling when markets are favorable. Speaking of rind, some cheeses have moulds on the rind, the outer layer, or throughout! So do take note and not take these moulds as a sign of spoilage!
The history, making and goodness of cheeses can go on for pages. For the next few articles, we will write about the different types of cheeses available and the styles that are being produced.
For all you cheese lovers out there, do remember to catch the next article!
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