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All about cheese

Top 10 facts from the Cheese Wiz…

  1. Cheese tastes best at room temperature (allow to sit wrapped on counter for at least one hour)
  2. You can't judge a cheese by its smell (some smellies are bland, some blandies are flavorful)
  3. Raw milk cheeses that are aged more than 60 days are legal in the USA (let's keep it that way)
  4. Artisinal cheese is expensive because it's handmade in limited batches (you get what you pay for)
  5. Cut pieces so that everyone gets a bit of the rind (flavor varies from rind to center)
  6. Mold is natural (just scrape it away & enjoy the rest of the cheese - mom was right)
  7. Drinking plain water with cheese invites indigestion (think of butter & water together)
  8. Hardest wines to pair are CabernetsChardonnays - easiest wines to pair are Pinot Noirs & Rieslings
  9. Store cheese wrapped in wax paper in humid fridge drawer (let cheese breathe - never let it freeze)
  10. Hard cheeses last for months, soft cheeses last for weeks (let your nose help you decide)

What's best…

  • Best cheeses come from animals that graze on organic grasses, flowers, plants
  • Best cheese accompaniments are fruit, olives & nuts
  • Best appetizer cheeses are fresh chevres
  • Best dessert cheeses are washed rinds & blues
  • Best way to eat a flight of cheese is on order of strength, from mild to wild
  • Best cheese course is 3-5 types, with various milks & textures
  • Best way to taste hard, sharp cheeses is with the tip of the tongue
  • Best way to taste softer & blue cheese is pressed to the roof of the mouth

How much to buy…

  • Typical serving = 3 ounces per person (6 guests x 3 ounces = 18 ounces / 16 ounces per lb = 1.125 lbs)
  • 1 ounce ungrated cheese = 1/4 cup grated cheese
  • 2 ounces ungrated cheese = 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 4 ounces (1/4 lb) ungrated cheese = 1 cup grated cheese
  • 8 ounces (1/2 lb) ungrated cheese = 2 cups grated cheese
  • 16 ounces (1 lb) ungrated cheese = 4 cups grated cheese

Types of cheese & suggested wine pairings…

  • Fresh - uncooked, unripened curds which are usually mild & moist (ricotta, chevre) - try sweet wines, dry wines, roses
  • Bloomy Rind - surface is exposed to molds that make them ripen inward & become creamy (brie, camembert) - try medium reds, ciders
  • Washed Rind - washed with brine or liquid to promote sticky rind with “stinky” quality (epoisses, munster) - try dry white wines & full-bodied reds
  • Natural Rind - self-made rind with an appearance of mottled rock (stilton, ossau-iraty) - try fruity red
  • Uncooked/Pressed - curds are not cooked, and whey is removed by pressing (saint nectaire, tomme de savoie) - try medium reds
  • Cooked/Pressed - curds are cooked until solidified, then pressed (parmigiano, gruyere) - try fruity whites, full-bodied reds
  • Semi-Hard/Hard - cooked and pressed, with our without rinds, then aged usually 1-2 years (cheddar, gouda) - try spicy & racy reds
  • Blue - infused with penicillin mold spores, then aged in caves or cellars (gorgonzola, roquefort) - try sweet wines, port

Nutritional tidbits…

  • Organic raw, unpasteurized, unhomogenized milk products are extremely healthy - science is not better than nature. Raw milk that comes from animals that are organically raised, free-roaming, grass-fed and not given antibiotics or growth hormone injections is very different from milk coming from a genetically modified animal that has been given injections, never allowed to roam, is fed chemically laced growth-enhancing feed, then pasteurized or homogenized. Which sounds healthier?
  • Healthy elements of all cheeses include calcium, protein & fatty acids - in fact, cheese has a higher concentration of these nutrients than milk, with little or no lactose remaining.
  • Cheeses are traditionally made with animal rennet, however vegetarian rennet cheeses are available. 
  • Goat cheeses are almost always an alternative for those who are lactose intolerant.
  • Sheep cheeses have more calcium & protein, and less cholesterol than cow cheeses.
  • Average fat content of cheese is 45%.
  • Remember: one piece of quality cheese is infinitely more satisfying than more of the cheap stuff.
  • Click here for calorie content & other nutritional data for most types of cheeses.

To learn more…

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