Cheese 101 Article -
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Cheese 101

Is cheese the new wine? Our resident cheese expert says what's old is new again.

We all know cheese. It's the other half of the "mac and…" equation. But lately there's a lot of action in your local cheese department. Lovely handcrafted artisan cheeses are showing up, and not only at specialty shops and farmers' markets. From European imports to American farmstead cheese, the cheese revolution is upon us.

Cheese is an ancient product, and a solution to an age-old problem: milk is perishable. Legend has it cheesemaking was discovered by a herdsman carrying milk in a bag made from an animal’s stomach. The beneficial yeasts and bacteria that ripen cheese already exist in the air, and on this hot day these bacteria--combined with agitation from the herdsman walking and some residual rennet from his stomach-lining bag--performed a miracle. The milk coagulated and separated into curds and whey. And cheese made its humble debut. As folks gradually learned to control this process, every region, town, and monastery had its cheese--adapted over centuries to climates and cultures.

Immigrants to the United States brought cheesemaking traditions with them and also created a few new varieties, like Colby, brick, and dry Jack. Industrial-scale cheesemaking followed when associated dairies were created in the 1800s and American farmers began to pool their milk. The same efficient impulse that brought us cars also brought us reliable cheese: wholesome, inexpensive, and available to all.

Many European cheesemakers joined the industrial trend when rebuilding after World War II. Traditional cheesemaking was far from lost; but the great artisan cheeses were not to be found in U.S. markets, having been replaced by their industrialized, pasteurized counterparts.

Then people began to travel again. And they discovered one very important thing: traditional cheese has amazing flavor. It tastes grassy, nutty, sweet, or pungent. It feels wonderful in your mouth. It is an experience.

These days, many dairies have taken a great leap backward and have learned or reinvigorated traditional methods wherein cheese is made by hand--daily and seasonally--on the farm where animals graze. The new cheesemakers choose breeds of sheep, goats, and cows for the quality of their milk. Feed is carefully selected and cheese is made only when the animals are producing top-quality milk.

As appreciation grows for unique, local cheese, we find in nearly every region someone is making cheese the old-fashioned way. The bad news is small batches--no matter how superb--may never make it beyond a farmers' market (a great incentive to support your local producers). The good news is nearly every grocery now stocks some European cheese and many shops and online retailers are building extensive collections of locally crafted cheese.

We have a delightful new dilemma: where to start? You're going to love the answer. It's easy. Put on your sense of adventure, and go taste cheese.

    Jul. 20, 2009 7:50 pm
    I would love a to try making my own cheeses. It'd be great to have a few more homemade cheeses on!!!
    M L Carey 
    Dec. 16, 2009 10:20 am
    I would like to know how many ounces a cup of shredded cheese is, since this is a volume verses weight problem for me. (i.e. loosely pack or jammed in)
    Jan. 9, 2010 12:12 pm
    my sister gave me a recipe for lemoncello, which is an Italian recipe for a fab liquer and can be as potent as rocket fuel, but in a very smooth way. I have lost the recipe, so has anyone got another recipe for it? I would be very grateful to anyone who could supply me with a similar recipe. thanks from jojoyum
    Apr. 8, 2010 4:16 am
    What does it mean when a recipe calls for cheese, divided? How do I do it?
    Jul. 30, 2010 10:20 am
    To Traralgon: Anytime you see "divided" in a recipe's ingredients list, it means exactly that; when you read through the directions, you will see that a portion of the ingredient will be added at one stage, with more being added later. Dividing the ingredient into the portion sizes makes creating the recipe easier as you don't have to stop midway to measure out part of something you've set out to use. Hope this helps.
    Jan. 21, 2011 10:50 am
    Does anyone use unpasturized milk for anything? I'm told its more nutritious and you can make all types of cheese, yogart and cream and butter. Any suggestions.
    May 11, 2011 2:08 pm
    @ HotFlashinMe'me': Most places do not sell unpasturized milk for concerns like safety. In Canada, where I live, it is infact illegal to sell unpasturized milk to the public due to fears about bacteria and other issues caused by milk that has not gone through the pasturization process. I do not know about more "nutritious" per say, I know many local dairy farmers who prefer the taste/mouth feel of pasturized milk, as apparently unpasturized milk can taste "sour." It also does not have the colour most of us are used to in our milk.
    Dec. 12, 2011 3:34 am
    to JoJoYum,


This a delicious sweet lemon liquer whose origin is from Southern Italy. To make, remember that it take 80 days to make. 12 lemons, washed 2 bottles ( 750 ml each ) 100 proof vodka 4 1/2 cups sugar 5 cups water Wash lemons well in warm water. Peel just the zest of the lemons into 4quart mason jar. Add one of the bottles of vodka, stir and store in a dark closet at room temperature for 40 days. On the 40th. day make a syrup in a large saucepan by stirring the sugar and water together and bringing to a boil. Let it boil for around 5 minutes and then remove from heat and cool. Add the syrup to the mason jar along with the second bottle of vodka. Place back into the dark closet for another 40 days. Use a coffee filter or several layers of cheese cloth to strain the limoncello into small bottles which can be stored in the freezer. It also keeps a long time in the refrigerator. Enjoy... Avid Baker
    Jackie Cline 
    Jun. 18, 2012 12:24 pm
    What kind of cheese can I use as a replacement for feta and/goat cheeses?
    Feb. 7, 2013 3:49 pm
    Absolutely!!!!! I woould love to have a section on cheeses on this site.I have just tried my first homemade hard cheese attempt. Its still ageing. I can't wait. The soft cheeses were unbelievably delicious. Nothing at all like the store bought cream cheese and ricottas. Dr. Faukhauser is whom I got my recipes from. I have to look into shares in a goat or cow. I did have trouble finding milk. The milk in the store doesn't work well. Ultra pasturized is useless as is High Temp Pasturized for cheese making. Unfortunately the milk poducers dont have to tell you how they sterilize. A great site to look is for info is

a great site for beginnners is
    Apr. 8, 2013 2:44 pm
    if you use store bought milk, use calcium chloride (helps to stabilize the milk) in your recipe and make sure your milk is not "ultra pasteurized" I have been making cheese for about 8 years, it's very time consuming but worth every minute.
    May 19, 2013 5:05 pm
    love to cook
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