Did you know…
Cheese flavors can be vastly different depending on the animal source for the milk, how the milk is handled, additions of flavors, styles produced, how the finished cheese is handled and the age of the cheese. Most shops have too many cheeses to list. It is best to go into the shop to try them and let the cheesemonger guide you. Here are a few of our more popular cheeses, arranged by milk type…
Cow's Milk Cheese
It takes ten pounds of cow’s milk to produce one pound of cheese but it is the most common cheese base. This is due to the larger quantities of milk cows can produce and the milk’s superior ability to absorb flavors and achieve the intended profile. Cheese makers add ingredients to the sweet, rich and mild cow’s milk to make varieties that range from creamy to hard and sweet to salty.
Some of our favorite cow’s milk cheeses include:
Point Reyes Bay Blue (a rustic style blue cheese reminiscent of Stilton; has a fudgy texture with a gorgeous natural rind, mellow flavor, and a sweet salted caramel finish)
Saint Andre (a thick and dense triple creme brie with a powdery white, bloomy skin of edible mold; this soft ripened cheese will coat your mouth with a buttery goodness)
Beemster XO Gouda (amazing deep tastes of butterscotch, whiskey, and pecan; revered by cheese connoisseurs, this uniquely crafted gouda is aged no less than 26 months and has a deep and robust, long-lasting taste)
Sheep's Milk Cheese
Sheep’s milk contains more fat and protein but sheep are not capable of producing as much milk as cows or goats. Sheep’s milk is high in calcium and zinc and has a sweet and nutty taste. Many traditional sheep cheeses come from Spain, Portugal and Greece.
Some of our favorite sheep’s milk cheeses include:
Moliterno al Tartufo (a sharp, raw milk cheese that is aged for 5 to 8 months so the paste develops its own flavor before it is delicately infused with veins of black truffle; produced on the Italian island of Sardinia, it pairs nicely with a big and earthy Italian red wine)
P’tit Basque (mild and nutty, firm and slightly fruity, this cheese isn’t overly complex and great way to introduce newcomers to the world of sheep’s milk cheeses; maintains a level of artistry that keeps it on many learned cheesemongers topten lists)
GOAT'S MILK CHEESE
Many goat cheeses tend to be smaller and have a slightly sour aroma. This bright white cheese becomes more mild with age and should have a tangy flavor as opposed to a “goaty flavor”. Goat’s milk cheeses are carefully made and is the easiest cheese to digest because of their lower lactose content.
Some of our favorite goat’s milk cheeses include:
Crottin de Chavignol (an aged goat cheese that has a complex, grassy, and nutty flavor with a great salty balance; a pale white pate and off white rind that becomes drier and increasingly intense with age)
Leonora (with lemon overtones, this cheese is bright, smooth, balanced, and creamy with a bloomy rind; it is produced from the pasteurized milk of Alpine goats in the Spanish mountains of Leon)
Everybody loves cheese, but few know how it was discovered or how it is made except that milk is involved. Believe it or not, the discovery of cheese was an accident. As the story goes, there was a traveller, in about 6000 B.C., that set out on a journey with a saddlebag full of milk. The saddlebag was made from the stomach of an animal and, along the expedition, a chemical process occurred as heat from the sun effected the sloshing milk combined with rennin (a coagulating enzyme) present in the saddlebag. The milk separated and the became curds and whey. The traveller tasted the solidified substance and knew he had stumbled upon a tasty and more practical way to consume his dairy on trips. The Romans learned to affect the textures and flavors of cheese and monks, later, mastered the art of cheese production. Eventually cheese was given to soldiers, sailors or any one leaving for a long journey as a food source that would last the duration of their travels. The industrial revolution changed the cheese making process but the traditional techniques and labor-intensive process are the only way to truly capture the delicate flavors and quality of fine cheese. techniques have produced.
Nutrition and Health
Cheese is an integral source of important nutrients needed for good health. The essential fats, proteins, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins (especially A, beta carotene, and B) present in cheese make it an important (and delicious!) part of a balanced diet. Some people are lactose intolerant and feel they can not indulge in this tasty treat. Lactose is the sugar found in milk. Look for cheese that are naturally aged (such as Swiss, Parmesan and Cheddar) because they have less grams of sugar. Much of the lactose is drained off with the whey in the cheese making process and the small amount that remains in the curd becomes lactic acid during the aging process. Fresh cheese (such as mozzarella, cream cheese, and ricotta) are not aged so the lactose does not have the time to convert to lactic acid. Processed cheese foods and spreads are created by melting natural cheese (stop the aging process) and is combined with other ingredients including milk or whey. While aged cheeses are easier for the lactose intolerant to digest, processed cheeses contain lactose levels that make digestion difficult for the intolerant.
Selecting and Purchasing
Be sure to utilize the experience of the cheesemonger when attempting to decide which cheeses to purchase. Ask for suggestions regarding texture, cooking options, flavors, which cheeses are in season and the best pairing options. Cheese that is cut to order is always the freshest and you can always ask for a taste before you buy to check the appearance, aroma and flavor. Remember that “stinky” does not mean “spoiled”. Cheese is best at room temperature. So if it is cold then warm the cheese in your hands to help release the aroma and breathe it in. Then take your time and taste it slowly while you exhale through your nose. Often there is a pronounced flavor curve from the start through the finish if it is an excellent cheese. If you buy your cheese in plastic-wrapped, precut pieces, always make sure the cut date is within a day of your purchase date. But the absolute freshest cheese you can buy is that cut straight from the wheel. The cheese’s interior should be free of discoloration, cracks and mold (unless it is a blue cheese). If the cheese has a natural rind, the rustic appearance is an attribute. Make sure you purchase only the quantity you will consume within a few days and if the the cheese is wrapped in plastic at purchase, re-wrap the cheese as soon as possible in waxed, parchment or cheese paper.
Storage and Handling
Some cheeses, in full and uncut wheels, can age for many years while their texture, aroma and flavor mature. But not all cheeses improve with age. Cheese begins to deteriorate when the rind is broken and wheel is cut into small pieces. It won’t spoil immediately but it can begin to lose its distinctive taste, texture, and appearance. There are general rules to apply to most cheese types for proper storage and handling to greatly reduce premature spoilage. Cheese needs to breathe. Wrap your cheese in wax/parchment/cheese paper to allow proper airflow to keep the cheese alive and fresh. Check your cheeses and re-wrap them periodically. Store each cheese individually and double wrap the pungent cheeses (like washed rind varieties, blue or aged brick cheese) or store them in a separate container after wrapping to prevent aroma interaction between the cheeses. The ideal temperature range for cheese is between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Never freeze your cheese! It may lose its texture and flavor. If cheeses (other than fresh cheeses and blues) have passed their expiration dates or if they develop a blue-green mold on the surface, cut about 1/2 inch below the mold to remove it. The remaining cheese will be fine. It is perfectly normal for cheese to sweat or release oil as it sits out at room temperature. It is perfectly ok to leave your cheese out under a cheese dome overnight and enjoy the next day but if you intend to put it back in the refrigerator you should “face clean” it by scraping the surface to remove the oils and debris before wrapping it. It is best to discard any stored and wrapped cheeses that develop a slimy texture, “off” odors or become overly dry.
Cooking With And Serving Cheese
If you are using cheese in a dish like classic risotto, a sauce or a soup, add the cheese at the end of the preparation and cook over low to medium heat to keep the cheese from separating. Baked dishes should get a sprinkling of cheese in the last ten minutes. Most cheese (except really hard cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano and aged Gouda) is cleaner and easier cut when slicing and grating if it is cold. New molds or bacteria can be spread between cheeses if you do not use clean tools for each cheese. Ask the cheesemongress how to properly arrange your cheese board, if building your own.
Contact us with your order or if you have questions!