Artisan Cheese Makers of the Northwest
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
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 degrees F and 38
degrees 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.