Stemmlers 2016-17
Stemmlers 2016-17

Cheese, Cow

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January 1 - December 31

Harvest Period

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The earliest indication of cheesemaking occurred about 7500 years old with the discovery of pottery containers believed to have drained the solid milk components from the liquid. It is easy to imagine jars of milk slowly curdling in the afternoon sun of some long forgotten pastoral society.  It might have been a natural next step for the shepherd to separate the two parts – one for drinking and the other for eating as a fresh “cheese”.

Making Cheese

The process of turning fresh milk into cheese begins with the addition of the rennet enzyme to pasteurized milk, which separates the milk into solid curds and liquid whey.  The whey is drained away and the curds are salted to draw out more moisture, preserve the curd, hasten aging and impart flavour.  Herbs or spices can then added to the curd before it is pressed and left to ripen.

 

The salted curds are loaded into a press which squeezes out the last of the whey and gives form to the cheese. The cheese is then ripened at about 10 degrees C and 90% humidity. Depending on the cheese, this ripening process can last from only a few weeks to more than a year.

 

The method described above is for aged cheeses, but fresh cheeses are also very popular. For these simplest of cheeses, the milk is curdled and drained. When the curds are used to make the cheese, cottage cheese and cream cheese are the final products. However, fresh cheeses can also be made from the whey, giving rise to Italian Ricotta and traditional mozzarella, as well as paneer and queso fresco.

 

 

Storage

It is recommended that cheese be removed from its original packaging, rewrapped in waxed or parchment paper, and enfolded in plastic wrap.  Cheese is a living organism with enzymes and bacteria that need air and moisture to survive.  This process of rewrapping the cheese provides a microenvironment for long-term storage and should be repeated every week.

The optimum temperature range for storing cheese is between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius at a higher humidity level best found in the bottom vegetable and fruit crispers of top- freezer refrigerators.

In general, never freeze cheeses as they can lose desirable texture and flavour for fresh eating.  Frozen cheese is best used for cooking after thawing slowly in the refrigerator.

Nutritional Information

Cheese is too diverse a group of foods to generalize about it's nutritional value.  However, regardless of the milk fat content, all cheeses are a good source of protein, calcium and phosphorus.

One cubic inch of cheddar cheese provides 70 calories, 6g fat, 0g carbohydrate, and 4g protein.

One cubic inch of low fat mozzarella provides 43 calories, 2.5g fat, 0g carbohydrate, and 4.3g protein.

Create a Cheese Platter

A good cheese platter will provide up to five different cheeses of varying sizes, shapes, flavour and texture to create diversity and interest.  It can be served with wine, beer or other beverages before dinner; as a palate cleanser between the main course and dessert; or as a simple lunch served with bread and salad. Plan on 45-60g of cheese per person and ensure that the cheese is at room temperature before serving as the flavours will be perfectly pronounced.

Along with breads and crackers, also provide fresh or dried fruit (apples, grapes, melon, figs, raisins), nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts), pickles, chutneys or floral honeys.

Even modest cheese trays can be elegant when attention is given to the presentation.  Try serving cheeses on a wooden board, marble slab, straw mat, or flat wicker basket.  Do not overcrowd the serving tray, as your guests will need room to slice the cheeses.  Serve bread and other accompaniments in separate dishes or wicker baskets.