Uses for Cheese
NAME COLOR, TEXTURE, FLAVOR SHAPE USE HOW TO STORE Cheddar Ranges white to orange. Hard mild to sharp in flavor depending upon aging. America's most popular cheese. Generally circular. Sold in weighed wedges, slices and blocks. Appetizers; sandwiches; salads; in cooked foods; desserts. Refrigerated, wrapped to retain moisture. There are other cheeses which resemble cheddar in many of their characteristics and uses. Three of the most popular are Colby, Monterey and Jack. These are mild, relatively high in moisture with an open texture. Generally used for sandwiches and appetizers. Blue Blue-veined; crumbly. Semi-soft to hard. Sharp, salty flavor. Foil-wrapped wedges or 6-inch rounds. Appetizers; salads; salad dressings; in cooked foods; desserts. Refrigerated, wrapped to retain moisture. Swiss Light yellow, large holes. Hard. Nut-like sweet flavor. Slices; circular or loaf blocks. Appetizers; sandwiches; salads; in cooked foods. Refrigerated, wrapped to retain moisture. Brick Creamy yellow; semi-soft with small holes. Mild to sharp flavor. Loaf or brick. Appetizers; sandwiches; salads; desserts. Refrigerated, wrapped to retain moisture. Cream White, non-ripened, soft and smooth. Mild, delicately flavored. Package or loaf. Appetizers; sandwiches; salads; in cooked foods; desserts. Refrigerated, wrapped to retain moisture. Gouda Red wax outer surface; creamy yellow interior. Semi-soft. Nut-like flavor. Spherical with flat ends. Appetizers; salads; in cooked foods; sliced; desserts. Refrigerated, wrapped to retain moisture. Edam Red wax outer surface, yellow interior. Soft to hard. Nut-like flavor. Loaf or cannon ball. Appetizers; salads; in cooked foods; desserts. Refrigerated, wrapped to retain moisture. Muenster Creamy white, semi-soft with tiny holes. Pungent flavor. Cylindrical and flat; loaf shape. Appetizers; sandwiches. Refrigerated, wrapped. Keeps about two weeks. Romano Yellow-white. Hard, granular. Piquant. Circular or grated. Grated for seasoning. Refrigerate whole. Dry grated keeps indefinitely. Parmesan Yellow-white. Hard, sharp flavor. Grated or in wedges. Grated on soups, breads, spaghetti; in cooked foods. Cured, keeps indefinitely. Mozzarella Non-ripened soft cheese. White stretchy cheese - when served hot becomes chewy. Varying moisture & fat content. Sometimes sold as semi-soft cheese and designated pizza. Irregularly spherical. Sliced; in cooked foods; on Pizza. Refrigerated, covered. Keeps for about 7 days. Provolone Light yellow, semi-hard, smooth and somewhat plastic, mellow smoky flavor. Pear-shaped or sausage-shaped. Appetizers; sandwiches; in cooked foods; desserts. Refrigerated, wrapped to retain moisture. Ricotta White, sweet, cottage-type cheese. Non-ripened soft cheese. Similar to cottage cheese. Appetizers; salads; in cooked foods; desserts. Refrigerated, wrapped to retain freshness. Camembert Creamy with edible white crust. Soft, surface-ripened. Pie-wedge or round cake. On crackers or with fruit, for appetizers or desserts. Refrigerate to store. Serve room temperature.
Keeping Cheese at its Best
All cheese should be kept refrigerated. Cottage cheese and cream cheese are quite perishable and should be used within a few days of purchase. Ripened or cured cheeses keep well in the refrigerator for several weeks if protected from mold contamination and drying out. When possible the original wrapper or covering should be left on the cheese. The cut surface of the cheese should be covered with waxed paper, foil or plastic wrap to protect if from drying. If large pieces are to be stored for any extended length of time, the cut surface may be dipped in hot paraffin. Small pieces may be completely rewrapped. Mod may develop on natural cheeses; this is not harmful and is easily scraped or cut from the surface of the cheese.
Cheese with an aromatic or strong odor such as Limburger should be stored in a tightly covered jar or container. Such cheeses are fast curing and are at their best when used within a short time after purchase.
Freezing cheese damages the body and texture and causes it to become crumbly and mealy. When necessary, however, certain varieties (Brick, Cheddar, Muenster, Swiss, Provolone, Edam, Gouda, Camembert) may be held frozen for as long as 6 months if handled and stored properly. Since the cheese must be frozen quickly, if you have a large block or wheel of cheese you want to keep by freezing, cut into smaller pieces - 1 pound or less, not over 1-inch thick. Freezer temperature should be 0 degrees F. or lower.
Cut cheeses should be carefully wrapped for freezing. Foil or other moisture-vapor-proof freezer wrapping should be pressed tightly against surfaces to eliminate air and to prevent evaporation, then they should be frozen immediately. When removed from the freezer, cheese should be thawed in the refrigerator and used as soon as possible after thawing.
Shopping for Cheese
The term "natural cheese" applies to cheese in its original form as contrasted with pasteurized process cheese, cold pack cheese and other types. The labels of natural cheese and other types of cheese carry important descriptive information you should check when shopping. Look for the name of the product: Cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese or Blue cheese. Do not confuse the brand name with the name of the cheese. Do not confuse true dairy products with the altered or "filled" cheese products appearing on the market. These contain vegetable oil in place of milk fat.
The age or degree of curing may be indicated on the label. Cheddar cheese may be labeled "mild," "medium" or "mellow," or "aged or "sharp". In some cases pasteurized process cheese may be labeled to indicated a sharp flavor when a high proportion of sharp or aged cheese was used in its preparation.
Successful Cheese Cookery
Cheese is one of the most versatile, most nutritious of foods, so it is used frequently by homemakers in meal planning and food preparation. When cooking cheese, always keep the heat low. Cheese needs just enough heat to melt and blend with other ingredients. High heat or long cooking makes cheese tough and stringy. Dry heat, prolonged baking or high temperatures will produce leathery texture.
Add cheese to other ingredients in small pieces; it spreads more evenly and cooks in a shorter time. When making a cheese sauce, add the cheese just at the last minute and cook only until it melts. If cheese is to be grated or shredded, the job is easier if you work with cold cheese taken directly from the refrigerator.
To slice cheese, you may prefer to buy a cheese cutter in order to have slices of uniform thickness. A heavy thread or fine wire can also be used to slice cheese; this works specially well with Blue cheese.
Except for soft, un-ripened cheeses such as cottage cheese or cream cheese, all cheese tastes better served un-chilled. This usually requires from 20 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature to bring out its distinctive flavor and texture.
SHALOM FROM SPIKE & JAMIE
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