Cheese

The making of cheese was originally a method of preserving milk, but became popular for its own sake early in history.

Cheese has kept its popularity ever since, being an inexpensive, versatile and nourishing food. Cheese is a valuable

protein food, containing high proportions of protein and fat.

Cheese is made by curdling milk by adding a preparation of rennet or a

A wonderful and delicious variety of cheeses from England, Scotland, Wales, France, Holland, Switzerland, Denmark and Italy – choose a colourful selection from these to serve after your next dinner party. i. Edam 2. Gouda 3. Danish Blue 4.

Havarti 5. Samsoe 6. Esrom 7. Gruyere 8. Emmenthal 9. Caerphilly 10. Lancashire 11. Cheshire 12. Sage Derby 13. Caboc 14.

Stilton 15. Dunlop 16. Cheddar 17. Derby 18. Roquefort 19. Port Salut 20. Cam-embert 21. Brie 22. Marc de Raisin 23.

Parmesan 24. Mozzarella 25. Gor-gonzola 26. Bel Paese.

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particular starter culture which changes the milk into lactic acid during the cheese-making process. The curds are separated from the liquid whey and are then ripened in various ways. The milk used in Europe and America is usually that of cows, goats or ewes. The processes used in the cheese-making and the climate and vegetation that produced the milk vary

so greatly that many cheeses cannot be reproduced outside their original districts. Others are more easily reproduced and are made commercially in large quantities.

THE COUNTRIES THAT PRODUCE CHEESE

The United States is the world’s largest producer of cheese, making twice as much as France, its nearest rival. There are, however, only two well-known American cheeses, the rest being either processed cheeses, or imitations of foreign

varieties, although some of these are considered to be as good as, or even better than, their originals.

Liederkranz and Brick are the only well known originally American cheeses. Liederkranz, aromatic and acid, was invented

accidentally by Emil Frey, a New York cheese-maker. He was trying to duplicate a German cheese, but produced Liederkranz

instead. He named his invention after a local singing society (the word means ‘wreath of song’).

Brick is little known outside the Middle West – it originated in Wisconsin, the leading American dairy state. When new it is mild in flavour, but it strengthens as it ages. A mature Brick is excellent with a glass of beer.

Britain produces several fine cheeses, of which the best-known are Cheddar, Cheshire and Stilton – one of the world’s

finest blue-veined cheeses. Cheddar -perhaps the most famous and versatile cheese in the world – is now produced

commercially in large quantities all the year round and all over the world. Cheshire, the oldest English cheese, has a nutty, slightly salty flavour, and is rarely imitated successfully. Stilton, traditionally eaten with port and walnuts

after a meal, is mellow and rich and has a dark, wrinkled skin.

There are several other well-known cheeses. Caerphilly is one of these – a very soft, easily digested cheese, now made in the West of England, although it was originally Welsh. Derby, a white, mild, open-textured cheese, is sometimes found in the form of Sage Derby, a variety with the white cheese layered or mottled with green coloured cheese that is flavoured

with sage. Lancashire cheese is white and crumbly, excellent for toasting or sprinkling over soups.

Leicester is a bright orange coloured cheese, with a creamy and tangy flavour and is very good for adding colour to cheese

dishes, particularly in Welsh rarebit and cheese sauces.

Dunlop is one of the Scottish cheeses, although it is said to have been originally Irish, introduced during the seventeenth century by a fugitive from religious persecution. It is similar in texture to Cheddar but milder in flavour.

Denmark produces several copies of foreign cheeses, such as Brie, Camembert, Emmenthal and Gorgonzola, but the best-known

of its original cheeses are Danish Blue, a blue-veined, salty but creamy cheese, Samsoe which has a slightly sweet flavour and Havarti which is a mild cheese.

Of the Dutch cheeses the best-known are Gouda and Edam. Gouda is strong, with a few small holes and a yellow rind. It is wheel-shaped, while Edam is round with a red skin when the cheese is exported.

Emmenthal and Gruyere are the best-known of the Swiss cheeses, and are both used in cookery, particularly in the making of fondue, the traditional Swiss dish of melted cheese. Emmenthal has large holes and is creamy in taste while Gruyere has

smaller holes and is tangier in flavour. A third well-known Swiss cheese is Appenzeller, a firm cheese with a spicy

flavour and tiny holes.

France produces the widest range of cheeses in the world – nearly every village has its own speciality – of every shape, taste and texture. One of the most popular is Camembert, a pale yellow cheese of soft, creamy texture. Its rind is orange-yellow with a powdery white crust. Next in popularity is Brie, very similar to Camembert in texture, but with its

own distinctive flavour.

Roquefort, a salty cheese made from ewes’ milk, has a greyish crust and is flecked inside with green-blue, from the action

of a mould similar to penicillin which is found in the caves where the cheese is stored.

Port Salut was originally made by Trappist monks, and is a semi-hard cheese, mild and fresh in flavour and in texture

rather like butter. It is one of the best all-round French cheeses. Fromage au Marc de Raisin is a sweet, cream cheese

rolled in a crust of grape seeds. These are only a very few of the 400 to 500 cheese of France, most of which are local

specialities.

Cheese is a fundamental ingredient in Italian cooking, and may be classified according to its use – grating, cooking and for the table.

The hard Italian cheeses for grating

are Parmigiano Reggiano, the original Parmesan, and Pecorino Romano, a sharp cheese made from fresh ewes’ milk.

The most important cooking cheese in northern Italy is grana, of which Parmesan is the best-known variety. In the south, Mozzarella is the chief cooking cheese, very often used in pizzas. Mozzarella is ideally made from buffalo milk but most

often from cows’ milk. Ricotta is a fresh, moist, unsalted cottage cheese much used in Italian cooking.

Of the eating cheeses, the best-known are Gorgonzola and Bel Paese. Gorgonzola is a blue-veined cheese, spiced and sharp

in flavour. Bel Paese is rubbery, mild and soft.

TYPES OF CHEESE FOR COOKING

Wherever cheeses are produced, they can generally be classified under three types: cream, soft and hard. All cheeses are suitable for eating on their own and some are more suitable for use in cooking than others.

Soft and semi-soft cheeses can be used in cooking but tend to be sticky. Hard cheeses – Cheddar, Edam, Gruyere, Emmenthal,

Cheshire, Parmesan, Lancashire, Leicester, Derby, Mozzarella – are ideal for cookery. Very hard cheeses, such as Parmesan, are generally grated before using.

Whatever type of cheese is used in cooking, it should never receive more heat than is necessary to melt and if necessary

brown it, because overcooking makes it tough and indigestible. When cheese is being grated prior to cooking, a fine grater

should be used for hard cheese, while a soft cheese should be shredded. Very soft cheese can simply be sliced thinly.

STORING CHEESE

Once cut, cheese deteriorates fairly rapidly, and it is advisable to buy only enough for a few days or for a week at most, and to store it in a cool place, such as a cold larder. It should be covered loosely, but not so as to make it airtight.

If it is airtight it may become mouldy, while if it is entirely exposed to the air it will become hard and dry. Cheese can

be stored in the refrigerator for about one week but should be wrapped in waxed paper or aluminium foil, otherwise it will

dry too rapidly.

Cheese can be hardened and dried by hanging it in a cheesecloth bag where the air can circulate around it. Dried, grated

cheese can be stored in a screw-top jar for several weeks. If you have a home freezer, freshly grated cheese, packed in

polythene bags, is a useful standby to have to add to sauces and savoury dishes.

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