How To Use Dairy Produce: Part 2 – Cheese
About The Basic Preparation Of Foodstuffs: Dairy Products.
HARD AND SOFT CHEESES
Cheese is manufactured from milk which has been naturally or artificially soured. The first method is achieved by standing the milk in a warm place and allowing natural, beneficial bacteria to convert the milk’s natural sugars into lactic acid. The second method is effected by adding an enzyme, usually rennet.
Colouring and salt are usually put in too. The whey is then drained off and the curds are pressed into moulds where they are kept until ripened or cured. Some cheeses are subjected to pressure; soft cheeses are not. Curds are ripened or cured by a variety of means. The method, the quality of the milk, the breed of cow, sheep or other animal and the quality of its pasture and the type of bacteria all govern the end result.
Some local conditions are unique and those areas produce cheeses that are not successfully reproduced elsewhere: for example Gruyere and Camembert, although factories do try. They even have some success, as most of the world’s Cheddar cheese now comes from the USA and Canada.
The constituents of cheese are typically: 33% fat, 33% protein and 33% water with salt, colouring, sugar etc making up the other 1%. These proportions vary from area to area as some producers use full-cream milk, others skimmed-milk and yet others add extra cream. Some add some extra sugar, although most do not. All cheeses have a high calcium content and can be considered as ‘concentrated milk’ and stored as such.
Many people say that cheese should not be kept in a fridge and while storing in water, as for milk, is not a viable option, a cool larder is certainly ideal. Try the traditional method of hanging it up in cheesecloth in a cool, airy place. If the weather is hot, moisten the muslin cloth with water to which a little vinegar has been added.
Cheese is often served in Europe with a salad or/and bread and is often dished up after or instead of the sweet. Hard cheese can be difficult for children to digest and grating it first will make it more palatable to them. Once grated the cheese can be sprinkled on vegetable or fish soups or sauces; added to egg, pasta, rice and oatmeal dishes; put on baked potatoes or pastry; toasted on bread or put in salads and sandwiches.
How To Cook Cheese: A not well known fact is that a lot of people find cooked cheese practically indigestible and the reason lies in its make-up. This is why: cooked starch can be digested by the saliva in the mouth, but other foods must pass to the stomach or intestines for this process to be completed. They are, however, broken up in the mouth. Digestion of protein begins in the stomach and is completed in the small intestine, while fat is not rendered soluble until it reaches the small intestine.
Cheese has a high fat and protein mixture, but when melted, the fat frequently covers the protein and prevents the digestive juices reaching it in the stomach. Therefore, its digestion is delayed until the fat has been absorbed in the intestines. Cheese can be made more digestible by:
1] Combining it with some starchy food, because the starch will absorb the fat, not allowing it to cover the protein.
2] Adding seasoning – Cayenne Pepper or mustard will irritate the intestinal lining, causing the release of extra digestive juices.
3] Cooking briskly. This has the effect of preventing the protein from becoming tough and stringy and therefore, harder to digest. You could also add the cheese late to sauces.
4] Adding alkali: so, large pinch of Bicarbonate of Soda per 75g (3 ozs) will help neutralize the fatty acids and make the proteins more easily digestible.