French and Italian cheeses
have long been
cherished by the people of those lands and thanks to many factors they are
available all over the world these days. In fact most American
cheese production copies the methods and techniques of European cheese
manufacturing. American cheddar is a good example. Cheddar is
a town in England where this firm, yet crumbly, sharp, and slightly salty
cheese was born and where its name comes from. Cheddar from all
across the United States, whether from Vermont, New York or Oklahoma,
derive from this. Blue cheese from Denmark is cloned in Iowa as
Maytag Blue. Brie from France is produced in Wisconsin. And so the cheese
crumbles across our country.
American Dairy Association has granted Good
Cooking permission to use its materials in compiling this Internet version
of their Cheese Appreciation Guide. You can go to ilovecheese.com
for all the information you find here and so much more. As a chef I
use cheese in cooking and as a consumer I eat it. I also think of cheese
as more than Swiss, Cheddar and Mozzarella. Whatever flavor, perhaps
goat cheese, farmstead Camembert or French style Beaumont, I first think
of the farmer. I was fortunate to grow up in a very rural area of
New York surrounded by dairy farms. In fact my grandfather owned a
dairy farm in West Taghkanic NY, farming 250 acres of land for milk
production. And I think being a chef is hard work! He sold the
farm after part was taken by the state under eminent domain to build the
Taconic State Parkway. I still have pictures, know the stories and
feel the earth. Now on the land the original farmhouse is built up
as a weekend restaurant for well-to-do travelers, and on the remaining
land a very expensive multi-million dollar home perched on the highest
hill with views of the Hudson River and the Catskills. So goes the
"American Farm". There are others from Maine to Oregon and
Wisconsin to Florida that have met the same fate or worse---selling the
family farm because there is no money left to support it any longer---or
even that the sons and daughters didn't want to be in the business and
there was no help to hire to run it. How many houses were built on
well-tilled farm land, it's impossible to count them, in fact you might
even be living in one as you read this! That's why, when I eat
cheese, I think of the history and the people who farmed and still farm to
bring us this culinary treasure! Hail to the dairy farmers and those
who represent them, you all do a great job and Good Cooking wishes you the
Enjoy the Cheese Appreciation Guide and
look forward to additional information about American Cheeses. Good
Cooking may recommend and or suggest cheeses from the USA for you to try
and you as a reader might even suggest cheeses to Good Cooking through our
Suggestion Pot. Please feel free to do so, maybe you know of a
producer of Cheese Curds or a farm that makes goat's milk camembert,
hopefully you will let us know so others can share in the delight.
Natural Cheeses from America
According to legend, cheese was
"discovered" 4,000 years ago when an Arabian merchant journeyed
across the desert, carrying a supply of milk in a pouch. The lining of the
pouch, combined with the heat of the sun, caused the milk to separate into
curd and whey. That night he drank the whey and ate the cheese, and thus,
so the story goes, our beloved cheese was born.
Cheese is one of the most versatile,
delicious foods craved from coast to coast and around the world. And
whether you love your cheese melted on a burger, shredded on a taco or
perched on a cracker, these pages are sure to teach you something new
about your favorite food.
For instance, you don't have to become a
"cheese snob" to enjoy some of the finest cheeses in the world,
because they're made right here in the U.S.A. and available at your local
supermarket. From Cheddar to Brie to Asiago to Havarti, nearly every
variety of cheese imaginable is now domestically produced.
To help you discover the world of domestic cheese, we've categorized
dozens of varieties by their flavor profile - from mild to mellow to
robust. You'll also learn:
Valuable tips on selecting and storing
The best way to enjoy each cheese in
cooking and snacking.
How to create the perfect cheese party
It's easy to become a cheese connoisseur.
Check out the dairy, deli or specialty cheese departments in your
supermarket and you'll find an extraordinary range of natural domestic
cheese flavors and textures. Use these tips to make
sure you purchase your favorite cheeses in the condition the cheesemakers
retailers with high turnovers of cheese and dated
packaging for product at its peak.
Look for individual cheeses that appear fresh and
Choose packaging that is tightly sealed and clean.
Ask to taste a cheese that's new to you.
If you are unhappy with your purchase after you get it
home, always tell your retailer.
More Cheese Please!
For more great ways to enjoy cheese, visit the American
Thanks to Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
for providing much of the information in this booklet. Wisconsin produces
more than 350 varieties, types and styles of natural cheese. Taste
Wisconsin Cheese: The Art of the State. Photos courtesy of Wisconsin Milk
To keep cheeses at their peak once you get
them home, they must be stored properly. In general, unopened cheeses
stored in the refrigerator between 34°F and 38°F will retain quality
even beyond any freshness date stamped on packages. The key lies in
keeping them tightly wrapped or sealed to prevent exposure to air and
airborne, natural mold spores. Once you open the manufacturer's packaging,
follow these guidelines:
Fresh cheeses, such as cottage, cream
and mascarpone, are high in moisture, which makes them more perishable
than firmer cheeses. These cheeses should be kept tightly sealed and
cold and used within two weeks.
Semi-soft, firm and hard cheeses wrapped
tightly and stored in the refrigerator remain fresh for four to eight
weeks. Some aged cheese may be held even longer under proper ' storage
Hard cheeses, such as Parmesan and
Asiago, should be stored in grated form in sealed containers in the
refrigerator for up to two weeks. Freeze for longer storage and use
directly out of the freezer.
Ideally only hard-grating cheeses, such
as Parmesan and Romano, should be frozen for up to three months.
Freezing other cheeses, such as Cheddar and Gouda, causes their
texture to become crumbly.
Shredded cheeses lose moisture and
develop mold more easily than solid pieces, because they have more
surface area exposed to air. Wrap leftover shredded cheese tightly and
use within a few days.
Should cheese develop surface mold, cut
off about 1/2-inch from each affected side. The remaining cheese
should be used within the week.
Take special care with aromatic cheeses,
such as blue and Limburger. If not tightly wrapped and stored in
airtight containers, they can impart their pungent aromas and flavors
to other cheeses and foods.
In addition to appealing taste, variety and
texture, cheese offers versatility and convenience. As a snack, an
ingredient in a recipe, or a topping, cheese pleases easily every time.
These tips will help you serve cheese at its best.
Most cheeses taste best when served at
room temperature. Take cheese out of the refrigerator and let it sit,
covered, for 30 minutes to an hour before serving. However, fresh
cheeses like ricotta, mascarpone and queso blanco should be treated
like fresh milk and can stay out of refrigeration for only brief
periods of time.
Repeated temperature changes hasten
deterioration of cheese flavor and texture and the onset of spoilage.
For large pieces, cut off only as much as you think you will consume
at one sitting, leaving the remainder tightly wrapped in the
Lactose Intolerant? Eat Cheese
If you are lactose intolerant, you can eat
most natural cheeses. This is because, during the process of making
natural cheese, the whey (the liquid portion of milk) is separated from
the curd (the solid components), and most of the remaining lactose is
removed with the whey. The small amount remaining is utilized by the good
bacteria already present in the cheese.
As a result, most ripened cheeses, such as Cheddar and Swiss, contain
about 95% less lactose than whole milk. Additionally, aged cheeses, like
Parmesan and sharp Cheddar, contain almost no lactose and processed
cheeses contain only a slight amount more.
The Cheese Party Tray
A beautiful cheese board, carefully
balanced in taste, texture and color, makes a delightful and delicious
presentation. It can be served as a party platter or as a separate, course
at lunch, brunch or dinner. With more than 350 domestic cheeses available,
it's easy to create a cheese party tray that is a work of art. Here's how:
Select several cheeses of different
varieties, types and styles, Include contrasting flavors and textures,
for example, Camembert, Gorgonzola, Havarti, Colby and aged Cheddar.
Labeling each type for your guests adds a friendly touch.
For small groups, allow family and
friends to cut directly from a cheese wedge or chunk.
For larger groups, serve cubes, sticks
and squares that have been cut ahead of time.
To complement the cheese, accompany it
with fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, olives, crackers and oven-baked
Use already cubed and sliced cheeses to
simplify composition of cheese and deli platters, or follow these easy
Start with a sharp, clean knife.
Cut cheese while it is still cold.
Cutting can be done early in the
day, as long as the cheese is wrapped tightly and returned to the
Cut small slices,
triangles or stocks from bars of cheese.
Rectangular pieces of
cheese provide larger cubes, triangles or sticks.
Cut wheels of Brie,
Camembert, Gouda and Edam into thin wedges. For soft-ripened cheeses such
as Brie, slice one-third of the wheel and fan out these slices across the
top of the remaining wheel for a dramatic presentation.
Cheddar, Colby and
Provolone often come in half-moon shapes and cut easily into thin strips
or narrow wedges.
Description: A Wisconsin original. Mild
flavor similar to Cheddar. Firm, open texture with tiny holes. Available
flavored. Best Use: Sandwiches, sauces, casseroles, snacks.
Perfect Pairings: Apples, pears, tomatoes, red wine, beer.
Description: Buttery flavor, smooth, supple
texture. Available flavored.
Best Use: Hot and cold sandwiches, baked potatoes, egg dishes, salads.
Melts easily. Perfect Pairings: Plums, grapes, almonds, rye bread, light
red or fruity white wines, iced tea.
Description: Rich, nutty, creamy flavor;
smooth, firm texture. Usually wrapped in clear wax. Best Use. Party trays,
sandwiches, burgers, pasta, sauces, egg dishes. Perfect Pairings: Apples,
grapes, water crackers, fruity white or light red wines, apple cider,
Description: Danish-and Swedish-style:
slightly tart, nutty, mild earthy. Smooth, supple texture with tiny holes.
Best Use. Sandwiches, snacks; baked or cooked dishes.
Perfect Pairings: Plums, grapes, water crackers, cashews, light red or
fruity white wines, bock beer.
Description: Rich, buttery, slightly sweet
flavor. Smooth, thick, creamy texture.
Best Use. Fillings, toppings, dips, spreads, sauces.
Perfect Pairings: Raspberries, ladyfingers, chocolate, sparkling water,
sparkling or fruity wines.
Description: A California original.
Delicate, buttery flavor. Smooth, open texture. Available marbled or
Best Use. Hot or cold sandwiches, burgers, salads, Mexican-style dishes.
Perfect Pairings: Fresh fruit, salsa, fruity wines, beer.
Description: Mild, slightly sweet flavor.
Creamy, granular texture. Best Use: Fillings, stuffings, spreads,
Perfect Pairings: Sweet berries, croissants, muffins, milk.
Description: Delicate, milky
flavor. Soft, slightly elastic texture. I Submerged in water to keep
fresh. Best Use: Salads, sandwiches, appetizers, pizza.
Perfect Pairings: Tomatoes, cured meats, light red wines.
Description: Mild, fresh flavor. Crumbly
texture holds shape when heated; does not melt. Best Use. Soups, salad,
polenta, stuffing, snacks.
Perfect Pairings: Mexican-style dishes.
Description: Buttery, nutty, mellow flavor.
Firm texture. Dime-size holes, called "eyes." Baby Swiss is
slightly sweet. Available plain and smoked. Best Use: Sandwiches, egg
dishes, breads, vegetables. Melts easily.
Perfect Pairings: Grapes, pears, pumpernickel bread, fruity white or light
Description: More piquant flavor and
granular texture than mild Cheddar. Usually wrapped in red wax.
Best Use: Party trays, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, sauces, egg dishes.
Perfect Pairings: Apples, grapes, water crackers, fruity white or
light red wines, beer.
Description: Rich, earthy mushroom flavor
changes from mild to pungent with age. Soft, creamy interior with snowy
white, edible rind.
Best Use. Party trays, sandwiches, snacks. Wrap and bake in pastry. Remove
rind for soups, sauces. Perfect Pairings: Melons, strawberries, nuts,
crusty breads, white or sparkling wines.
Description: Edible orange rind with white
interior, creamy texture. Mild flavor mellows with age.
Best Use: Hot or cold sandwiches, salads, Mexican-style dishes, snacks.
Melts easily. Perfect Pairings: Grapes, pickles, sausage, wheat crackers,
fruity wines, beer.
Description: A Wisconsin original. Mild,
sweet and nutty when young, tangy when aged. Smooth, open texture.
Best Use: Sandwiches, casseroles. Melts easily.
Perfect Pairings: Apples, pears, dark bread.
Description: Gouda (whole milk) has a rich,
buttery, slightly sweet flavor and smooth, creamy texture. Available plain
or smoked. Edam (part-skim milk) has a nuttier flavor and firmer texture.
Best Use., Sandwiches, snacks, salads, soups.
Perfect Pairings: Peaches, pears, dark breads, fruity wines.
Description: Buttery/nutty flavor (like a
blend of aged Cheddar and Parmesan) becomes more intense with age.
Best Use. Serve as a table cheese for pasta, rice, potatoes, salads,
Perfect Pairings: Grapes, figs, red wines, ales, espresso.
Description: Packed in brine. Tart, salty
flavor. Available plain and flavored.
Best Use. Greek dishes, salads, hot and cold pasta, egg dishes. Perfect
Pairings: Olives, vegetables, seafood, chicken.
Description: Ivory color marbled with
blue-gray veins. Piquant, full, earthy flavor. Firm, crumbly texture.
Best Use. Vegetable, fruit and pasta salads, grilled meats, spreads,
dressings, dips. Perfect Pairings: Crusty breads, apples, hearty red
Description: Italian-style Blue -d cheese.
Sharp flavor with slight earthiness. Firm, crumbly texture with greenish
blue mold in veins and pockets.
Best Use: Salads, pasta, ground meat; soufflés, spreads, dressings, dips.
Perfect Pairings: Pears, apples, walnuts, heavier red wines.
Description: Nutty, rich, full-bodied
flavor. Firm texture with a few tiny eyes.
Best Use: Fondue, baked dishes, onion soup.
Perfect Pairings: Hearty breads, vegetables, apples, chicken, fruity white
Description: Buttery, sweet, nutty flavor
intensifies with age. Granular texture hardens with age. Best Use: Salads,
cooked dishes, casseroles, pizza; serve as a table cheese.
Perfect Pairings: Grapes, figs, walnuts, bread sticks, red wines, coffee.
Description: Slightly piquant flavor
becomes sharp and pungent with age. Firm, smooth body I becomes more
granular with age. Best Use. Sandwiches, pizza,
fillings, salads. Melts easily. 1 Perfect Pairings: Pears, grapes,
figs, olives, bread sticks, red wines, espresso.
Description: Sharp, piquant flavor.
Granular texture hardens with age. Available as Pepato, which has black
Best Use: Pasta, soup, salads, pizza, ' egg dishes, stuffing, pastry.
Perfect Pairings: Melons, olives, crusty bread, hearty red
Description: Age gives Cheddar a complex,
pleasingly sharp flavor and hard, granular texture. Usually wrapped in
black wax. it Best Use: Party trays, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, sauces,
egg dishes. Perfect Pairings: Apples, grapes, water crackers, hearty red
to The American Dairy Association
for allowing Good Cooking to reproduce their Cheese appreciation Guide!
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