There are some folks who like the simpler things in life, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that… then there are those that love to add that extra kick (or 10 kicks) into their diet to satisfy their constant craving for spicy foods.I know several folks that love, love, love spicy foods, and they just cannot get enough of it. Ketchup on eggs and burgers are an obsolete memory of the past. Ketchup has now been replaced by the likes of liquid smoke, tabasco sausce or other combinations of sauces that add fireworks to an otherwise ordinary meal. If you are a cheese lover, there are a number of cheeses out there that are a kick or ten above the rest, one of which is so hot that the few restaurants that serve it on their burgers require that you sign a waiver release before eating the burger and that you wear latex gloves to prevent spice burns. Yes, it is that serious and the cheese is that spicy. Without further adieu, let’s take a look at some of these spicier cheeses.
The fact is, most cheese is naturally made mild as milk usually acts as a soothing agent to thwart the “burn” in your mouth and throat left behind by spicier foods. Here are the few exceptions…
One of the most “garden-variety” chili peppers available across the globe, often get integrated into cheese to give it that extra kick. Jalapenos, believe it or not, has a fairly low spice level, compared to another cheese that makes this list as well. There is actually a scale in which the spice level of a chili pepper is measured, called the Scoville scale, where the level of hot in a chili pepper is measure in units called Scoville units. In this case, the Jalapeno falls at around 2,500 to 10,000 units. Finding a store that sells “Jalapeno Cheddar” is not a difficult task as Jalapeno Cheddar is more of a household cheese for those that love the spice.
If consuming Jalapenos raw, by the handful as snack and without any soothing agent like milk or water, perhaps you’d like to take the stakes a little higher and give Hot Habanero cheese a try. Habanero is markedly spicier than the aforementioned Jalapeno chili pepper, coming in at a staggering 100,000 to 350,000 units on the Scoville scale. This pepper will weed out the fainter taste buds in a heartbeat. Cheese infused with Habanero Chili Peppers is still relatively easy to find in larger grocery stores and specialty foods stores.
Ghost Chili Pepper
If you are one of the rarer breeds who loves the hot level off the charts to where you cannot feel you mouth, lips, nose, tongue, throat, or pretty much your entire upper half, then perhaps Ghost Chili Pepper-infused cheese is up you ally. Ghost Chili Pepper is the second hottest cheese on Earth, yes, on the face of our planet. It comes in on the Scoville scale as being about 200 times hotter than the Jalapeno. Yes, this cheese can be legally bought, but very few have the sanity to buy it as, well, you value the life of your taste buds, mouth and lips. Restaurants that do make cheeseburgers with cheese that is infused with Ghost Chili Pepper cheese, and there are very few that do, require paperwork to be filled out by the challenge eater and latex gloves to be worn to prevent spice burns on the hands.
The most widely eaten cheese on this planet, Cheddar originated in Somerset, England around the late 12th Century and took its name from the Gorge or caves in the town of Cheddar that were used to store the cheese. The constant temperature and humidity of the caves provided a perfect environment for maturing the cheese. The town also gave its name to a unique part of the cheese-making process – known as “Cheddaring” – which is the process of turning the slabs of curd and piling them on top of each other in a controlled way to help drain the whey.It also stretches the curd. The process helps to create a harder cheese with firm body and is unique to Cheddar making.
Cheddar making in Somerset goes back more than 800 years with records from the King of England’s accounts (the so-called “Great Roll of the Pipe”) noting that in 1170 the King purchased 10,240 lbs (4.6 tonnes) of Cheddar cheese at a cost of a farthing a pound. The king at the time- Henry II – declared Cheddar cheese to be the best in Britain and his son Prince John (who reigned between 1199 and 1216) clearly thought the same as there are records of him continuing to buy the cheese for the great Royal banquets. In the reign of Charles 1 (1625 to 1649) parliamentary records show that the cheese made in Cheddar was sold before it was even made and indeed was only available at the court.
In 1724 Daniel Defoe devoted a chapter to Cheddar and its cheese in his book “A tour of the Islands of Great Britain”.
Today Cheddar cheese is still made in Somerset but also all over the world. It is made on farms in the West Country and 14 makers are licensed to use the EU Protected Designation of Origin “West Country Farmhouse Cheddar”. The cheese must be made on a farm in the four counties of Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset from locally produced milk and using traditional Cheddar making techniques – including hand Cheddaring. West Country Farmhouse Cheddar is matured in the region and sold at a minimum age of 9 months and is subject to regular grading throughout its life.
Larger dairies throughout the UK also make Cheddar and this is sold at different ages. Mild Cheddar is typically sold at about 3 months of age; medium matured Cheddar at 5 to 6 months; mature Cheddar at around 9 months, Extra Mature at around 15 months and Vintage at 18 months or more.
As Cheddar matures so its taste develops from the young creamy taste of mild Cheddar to complex, lasting, slightly nutty flavours of mature Cheddar and beyond.
Major brands include Cathedral City, Pilgrims Choice, Colliers and Seriously Strong whilst many supermarkets will now include the creamery or the farm in which the cheese was made. For example, Davidstow, Taw Valley, Lake District, Caledonian Pembrokeshire, Lockerbie and Isle of Man in the case of major creameries and Alvis, Gould, Denhay, Parkham, Brue Farm, Quickes, Goodwood Estate or Keens, in the case of farm made cheeses. Cheddar is made in most areas of the country often as a balancing cheese when milk supply from a farm peaks.
Traditionally made Farmhouse varieties, which may be cloth bound, become significantly harder as they age; the texture becomes drier and the flavours generally more complex than their creamery counterparts. Some of the farm-made Cheddar uses unpasteurised (raw) milk which will tend to have rather more complex and stronger flavours, whilst others will use pasteurised milk. Cheese flavour will also vary depending on the time of year it was made and what the cows may have been eating at that time.
Creamery made Cheddar is increasingly being sold at a longer age in response to changing consumer tastes for tastier cheese. These more mature (extra mature or vintage) Cheddars often have a characteristic sweet, nutty flavour with a very long finish. Mild Cheddar remains popular as an every day cheese and is characterised by a gentle, creamy flavour and has the added advantage of slicing easily.
So whatever your preference there will be a Cheddar for you depending on its age, how it was made, where it was made and the time of year that it was made.
Tips when buying
If you can, try before you buy because every Cheddar will be slightly different. Find the one that you like and try to remember its name and its age (as defined by mild, medium mature etc). For a difference try one of the smoked or smoke flavoured Cheddars which many cheese shops now offer or the blended Cheddars where ingredients such as herbs, spices, Marmite© or fruits may have been blended with the matured cheese to produce a whole range of different taste sensations.
Mozzarella is a very famous fresh cheese, made from goat’s milk, cow’s milk or in some cases, buffalo’s milk by means of an intricate and complex process by the name of “pasta filata method”. Originally from southern Italy, its name is quiet common for many different types of Italian cheeses made using “spinning” and then “cutting” this original pasta coming from milk : The Italian verb “mozzare” means exactly “to cut”.
Some common and famous types are:
- Buffalo mozzarella made from domesticated buffalo milk;
- Mozzarella fior di latte (or simply Fiordilatte) is made from fresh pasteurized, or also unpasteurized, cow’s milk:
- Low-moisture mozzarella, which is made from whole or part skimmed milk, and widely used in the food-service industry;
- Smoked mozzarella (affumicata) called in this way for the treatment that is receives which gives it a very particular and special smell and taste;
Fresh mozzarella is usually white in its common visual expression, but this colour can vary seasonally to a very mild yellow depending on the specific diet with which the animal is fed. It is a semi-soft cheese and traditionally served the day after the production, but can be kept “in brine” for a week or even more if sold in vacuum-sealed packages. Low-moisture mozzarella can also be kept refrigerated for up to a month. It is also used for many types of pizza and many very famous and tasty pasta dishes (Cooking Mozzarella) but it can be also served with slices of tomatoes and basil in the very typical “insalata caprese”.
A bufala is a female water buffalo. Hers is the milk – rare and expensive – from which mozzarella is traditionally made. These days, however, you’re more likely to find a version made from cows’ milk, which is more readily available and much less costly.
The history of mozzarella is closely linked to that of the water buffalo. How and when did the animals arrive in Italy? Some say it was Hannibal, others talk about Arab invasions and still others say that India was the source. What we do know is that they began to be raised in the 12th century, at a time when many peasants, fleeing war and invasions, abandoned their land. That land turned marshy, which is exactly what water buffalo like. Several centuries later, northern Italy became concerned about cleaning up the marshlands, and in 1930, the south began a massive agrarian reform. The herds of water buffalo, the “black mine” that produced “white gold,” dwindled. Cow’s milk began to replace bufala milk in the recipe. Then, in 1940 the Nazis destroyed the remaining herds. After the war, water buffalo imported from India were reintroduced to Italy, but the cheese introduced to North America by Italian immigrants in New York at the turn of the 20th century and in Canada around 1949 was made with cow’s milk.
Aside from the milk, mozzarella’s other distinguishing feature is its stringy texture. After the whey is discarded, the curds are “strung” or “spun” to achieve the characteristic pasta filata. The cheese is then cut (in Italian, mozzare means to cut), immersed in water to firm it up, then covered in a light brine, in which it is kept until it is eaten.
Etymology of the name
The name was mentioned in a cookbook witten by Bartolomeo Scappi in the 1570: “milk cream, fresh butter, ricotta cheese, fresh mozzarella and milk” (…).
The name comes from the Neapolitan dialect (from Naples, the capital of Campania) and it is the diminutive of “mozza” which, as we saw, means “cut” or, if you want from the verb “mozzare” (to cut) and it rappresents the technique of working the pasta coming from milk.
A very similar cheese is “Scamorza” which probably derives from scamozzata which leterally means “without a shirt”, reffered to the appearance of these cheeses “without” hard surface covering typical of many other dry cheeses.
“Mozzarella di bufala campana” as mentioned before is a specific quality made from the buffalo’s milk: these are raised in specific areas of the territory of the regions of Lazio and Campania (Italy).
Unlike other types, that can derive from non-Italian milk and often semi-coagulated milk, the buffalo mozzarella holds the status of “Denominazione di Origine Protetta” (protected designation of origin – PDO 1996) under the European Union, While in 1996 mozzarella was recognized as a Specialità Tradizionale Garantita (STG) which translated means “Traditional Speciality Guaranteed”.
Fior di latte or simply Fiordilatte is a mozzarella made only from cow’s milk (not from buffalo). The quality of this product is inferior compared to the one from buffalo and as consequence also the price of this type of mozzarella is lower. It is for this reason that is always important the certification of the label because, especially abroad it is not unusual to find “mozzarella” not clearly labeled as deriving from buffalo made instead from cow’s milk.
You can find two type of Mozzarella: fresh or partly dried.
- The fresh one is usually shaped into balls that weigh 80-100 grams, for a diameter that usually is not more than 5- 6 centimetres. Specific brands can nevertheless make balls that can reach 1 kilogram for or about 10-12 centimetres in diameter. This fresh version is usually soaked in salt water (brine) or whey, rarely with the addition of citric acid;
- The partly dried mozzarella is more compact and dense, usually used to prepare dishes cooked in the oven, such as “pasta al forno”, pizza, etc.
It is possible to twist the “pasta filante” with the result that the final shape is a plait: this type of mozzarella is called “Treccia”. and it can have many length according to the final destination: Sunday 13 of June 2006 after 6 hours of work, Avellino won the Guinness World Record with the longest Mozzarella Treccia in the world – 106,16 meters. But usually the dimension is from few centimeters to few decimeters.
An other interesting and very typical type is the so called “Mozzarella affumicata” which is a is smoked varietes, very tasty and with a light brown collor due to the smoke that is on the surfice of the cheese.
“Nodini” is an other type of mozzarella: the term means little knots and in fact he shapes is made by weaving once the “pasta filante” and the dimension is typically around 3-4 cm. Similar to bocconcini, but a unique knot shape, this cheese gives a nicer texture and ability to expose more surface with about the same volume.
“Mozzarella Sfoglia” , literally “mozzarella sheet” is a cheese inspired by traditional puff pastry; especially in Puglia, it is the traditional base for the preparation of sweet and savoury recipes, stuffed to create original hot and cold dishes.
Several variants of mozzarella are specifically formulated for pizza: “Cooking Mozzarella” is a low-moisture Mozzarella cheese: as you can understand it contains less water than real one”.
Mozzarella can be shaped in very particular ways and artistic shapes such as elephant, pig, dummy, which are widely produced in Southern Italy: the aim of this idea is to distract where possible kids from eating junk food/candies and so for snacks and focusing on high calcium and healthy cheese instead but keeping the fun and interest high.
“Burrata” meaning “buttered”: it is a dreamy fresh cheese that consists of a Mozzarella pouch, rather than a ball, filled with a delicate milky-mousse. When you bite into it, the fillinggently oozes out. Delicious!
There’s nothing like a 4-year-old cheddar to remind us of how very great cheese can be. It’s creamy; it’s sharp; and it’s downright addictive. But as great as aged cheddars are, their polar opposite — which go by the mildly unappetizing name of cheese curd — are equally delicious yet a thousand times harder to find.
If you have the good fortune of being from Wisconsin, have indulged in Canada’s famous poutine, or have just sought these curds out on your own then we don’t have to educate you on the wonders of this food. BUT, if hearing the words “cheese curd” causes you to wrinkle your nose instead of making you hungry, you need to read on. Because, folks, you are seriously missing out.
Cheese curds are what your mouth has been missing all this time. And you might want to head to the nearest cheese maker to remedy that, like, stat. But first, here’s what you need to know.
1. Cheese curds are a younger, spryer cheddar.
2. Wisconsin is famous for their curds.
3. Cheese curds squeak when you eat them.
4. Cheese curds go hand in hand with dairy-farming.
5. Cheese curds have a mild and salty flavor.
6. In Wisconsin, cheese curds are breaded and fried.
7. Without cheese curds, we wouldn’t have poutine.
Summer sausage is a seasoned sausage that is thoroughly cured and does not require refrigeration to remain fresh. There are many varieties of this sausage, including cervelat-style sausages such as blockwurst, thuringer and mortadella. People in many countries, especially those across Eastern Europe, have their own varieties of these summer sausages, dating to periods when meat needed to be well-preserved because refrigeration was not an option through salts and other natural preservatives. This food product is often available at butchers and in boutique shops that import special regional foods.
Despite its name, summer sausage is not necessarily made in the summer, although it can be. It is made with meat scraps, like all sausage, so it tends to be made when animals are butchered, which is often in the fall or spring. The sausage might also be made with a combination of meats for efficiency and flavor variety. Cuts are often kept lean to ensure that the sausage does not become rancid during the curing process.
Types of Ingredients
A common combination in summer sausage is beef and pork, although venison and other game meat might be used as well. Some of these sausages also traditionally contain organ meat, although this culinary tradition has waned. Salt is always used in the seasoning of summer sausage because it promotes a sound cure. Pepper, mustard seeds and sugar might be used as well in some regions. People from different areas have their own seasoning traditions, resulting in a wide range of flavors within this diverse family of cured meats.
After the ingredients are thoroughly combined and forced into sausage casings, summer sausage must be cured. Cures for this sausage vary, with it generally being smoked or dried. Traditionally, air drying is accomplished in the open on large racks that take advantage of seasonal winds. Smoking is slowly done at a very low temperature to create an even, strong cure. Complete curing might take weeks or more than a month, and careful monitoring is needed to ensure that the sausages have not gone bad.
Preparation and Serving
After curing, summer sausage generally can be eaten straight, and it is often served cold. The end texture is semi-dry to moist, depending on the type of cure used. It can be heated or cooked, or it might be tossed with other foods. Some modern versions might be less extensively cured, requiring refrigeration and cooking before it can be used. The flavor of this type of sausage is more mild and less salty than true summer sausage.
There are two types of sheep’s milk cheese known as Pecorino in Italy. The word pecorino without a modifier applies to a delicate, slightly nutty cheese that’s mild when young, and becomes firmer and sharper with age, while gaining a flaky texture. It’s not suited for grating, and though it can be used as an ingredient, it’s best on its own, in a platter of cheeses or at the end of a meal, perhaps with a succulent pear.
Much of this kind of pecorino is made either on the island of Sardegna, or in Tuscany, by Sardinian shepherds who came to the mainland in the ’50s and ’60s, and as a result is generally labeled pecorino sardo or pecorino toscano.
Then there’s Pecorino Romano, which is saltier and firmer; it’s an excellent grating cheese, and also works well as an ingredient because it doesn’t melt into strings when it’s cooked.
In its milder renditions it’s also a nice addition to a cheese platter or with fruit, especially pears, while a chunk with a piece of crusty bread and a glass of red wine is a fine snack.
Though one might expect Pecorino Romano to be made around Rome, and perhaps in the Alban Hills, its production area is considerably wider, extending into southern Tuscany and also Sardegna, which is where the Consorzio per la Tutela del Formaggio Pecorino Romano, the organization that oversees the production of Pecorino Romano, has its offices.
Why would the organization overseeing the production of a Roman cheese have its offices in Sardegna?
To begin with, Romano doesn’t refer to Rome, the city, but to the Romans, who were already making this cheese 2000 years ago; Lucio Moderato Columella, who wrote De Re Rustica, one of the most important Roman agricultural treatises, says, “the milk is usually curdled with lamb or kid rennet, though one can use wild thistle blossoms, càrtame, or fig sap.
The milk bucket, when it is filled, must be kept warm, though it mustn’t be set by the fire, as some would, nor must it be set too far from it, and as soon as the curds form they must be transferred to baskets or molds: Indeed, it’s essential that the whey be drained off and separated from the solid matter immediately.
It is for this reason that the farmers don’t wait for the whey to drain away a drop at a time, but put a weight on the cheese as soon as it has firmed up, thus driving out the rest of the whey. When the cheese is removed from the baskets or molds, it must be placed in a cool dark place lest it spoil, on perfectly clean boards, covered with salt to draw out its acidic fluids.”
Though modern cheese makers use heaters rather than the fireplace, and use calibrated molds rather than baskets, the basic process is unchanged; the curds are heated to 45-48 C (113-118 F), the curds are turned out into molds and pressed, and the cheeses are then salted for 80-100 days: For the first few days they are turned and rubbed with coarse salt daily, then every 3-4 days, and finally weekly. The cheeses are then aged on pine boards for 5 months prior to release. The technique is very distinctive and imparts a characteristic salty sharpness to the cheese. Of course cheese comes from milk, and it’s important too; Pecorino Romano isn’t simply made from sheep’s milk, but from the milk of sheep that have grazed pastures with specific combinations of grasses that impart specific flavors to their milk.
And this brings us back to why Pecorino Romano is made in the Tuscan Maremma and Sardegna as well as around Rome. As I said, its flavor is quite distinctive, and it’s an important ingredient in many south Italian dishes. Those who left the south to seek better fortune abroad during the last decades of the 1800s and the early 1900s were forced to leave almost everything behind, but not their tastes: As soon as they settled they began to cook, and one of the ingredients they needed most was Pecorino Romano. There was no way to make it locally (different climate and forage means a different cheese, even if the production technique is the same), but what was made in Lazio kept very well — Columella remarked on this too, and because of its keeping qualities legionnaires on the march were issued an ounce of Pecorino a day to add to their porridge — so the immigrants ordered it: By 1911 7,500 tons were being sent annually to North America alone.
The cheese makers couldn’t meet this demand with the flocks in Lazio — not all pastures give the proper milk — so they searched elsewhere for pastures that would work, finding them in southern Tuscany and Sardegna.
Currently about 20,000 tons of Pecorino Romano are exported every year, 90% of which to North America.
Pecorino Romano is an excellent source of calcium, and indeed Roman wet nurses were traditionally given Pecorino to enhance their milk. It’s also a good source of phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium, and a good source of protein — a chunk of Romano is about 25% protein. It’s also 31% fat, and though this is significant, people on diets often use it to flavor their foods because a little goes a long way.
Forms of Pecorino Romano are barrel-shaped and weigh between 40 and 95 pounds (18-40 kg); before release the cheese is marked with a sheep’s head inside a diamond and the rind is stamped with dotted letters spelling out “PECORINO ROMANO.” Given their size, you won’t want to buy a whole cheese, but rather a wedge; if you can, select one from the middle of the form, which will not have the bottom rind. The body of the cheese should be white with faint straw yellow overtones, and break with what the Consorzio describes as a “granitic aspect;” it shouldn’t look too dry.
When you get it home, store it in the cheese box in your refrigerator, wrapped in either plastic or aluminum foil to keep it from drying out.
It’s a dilemma many families face. The grownups want a cheese with character, flavor, and “bar-none” quality… while the kids’ idea of excellence comes in plastic-wrapped slices of questionable origin. We have a solution: Next time family grilled cheese night rolls around, reach for a cheese that everyone will love for all the right reasons. It’s mild, mellow, melts like a champ, and is actually cheese. The kids will even love its name: Muenster.
Muenster Cheese History: Where Did It Come From?
For starters, Muenster is almost nothing like Munster (or Munster-géromé) cheese from France. It also has nothing to do with the Irish province of Munster or the German city of Münster, although Muenster would seem to be an Anglicized version of the German name. Here, then is a little Muenster cheese history:
The French Munster cheese comes from Alsace, that very German region of France that has changed hands between the two countries for centuries. (The German city of Münster is just across the Rhine in Westphalia, so maybe there’s more of a connection than is believed.) It is a washed-rind cheese on the order of Limburger, first made by Benedictine monks as a way to preserve milk. While Munster doesn’t have the overpowering smell of Limburger, it is a strong-tasting semi-soft cheese with a red-orange rind caused by the bacteria that give it its distinctive flavor.
French immigrants in the 19th century first figured out how to make Muenster cheese in Wisconsin. It’s likely that they were trying to imitate the French Munster, as the American version has the same semi-soft texture; however, its distinctive red-orange rind (if present) gets its color from annatto, the same natural vegetable dye that gives many Cheddars the familiar orange hue. And the Wisconsin version tastes nothing like the Alsatian original; because it does not go through the rind-washing and aging process, its flavor is very mellow with a pleasing tang, somewhat like a Monterey Jack. Because it truly has its own identity, Muenster may be considered one of the truly great original American cheeses.
Muenster Cheese Pronunciation
Muenster is pronounced either like “munster” (with a short u like bun) or “moonster” (with a short oo like book). Young children may think it’s cool to call it “monster”…and with its orange rind it’s a nice addition to a Halloween platter.
Muenster Cheese Uses
The smooth, mellow taste of Muenster is extremely versatile and adaptable to many dishes, so naturally, there’s no shortage of Muenster cheese recipes. Slice it for hot or cold sandwiches—it goes with any cold cuts—or cut it in cubes for a cheese tray.
Because it melts so wonderfully, with the perfect elasticity, Muenster is one of the finest additions to grilled cheese recipes. And those same characteristics—along with its food-friendly flavor that complements a wide variety of toppings—make it one of the best cheeses for cheeseburgers.
Muenster Cheese Pairings
Muenster pairs well with a variety of reds (pinot noir, Beaujolais, merlot, zinfandel) and dry to sweet whites (chardonnay, pinot gris/pinot grigio, riesling, grüner veltliner).
Belgian ales, brown and pale ales, lagers (including pilsners), and dark porters and stouts all go well with Muenster.
Apples, dried fruits, grapes, pears
As many know, there truly is no “Swiss Cheese” in Switzerland. In Switzerland, they make a variety of “Alpine” cheeses, with some having large holes. The most notable of these cheese is Emmentaler. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many of the Swiss cheese makers began to move to Wisconsin and settled in the “Dairy Belt” of Green and Dodge Counties. Originally, they made large wheels of cheese (3 feet wide, 125 pounds) patterned after the Emmentaler of Switzerland. Naturally, these became known as ‘Swiss Cheese.’
As the trend changed to larger cheese factories, a broader market and wider distribution, the call for a smaller cheese with milder flavor began to arise. This was soon addressed with the development of this much smaller cheese made with full fat milk that was aged only a few months. Although this new cheese was not that small at 5 lbs, compared to the much larger Emmentaler cheese, it is truly a baby.
A bit of history:
The driving forces in Baby Swiss evolving into a true “made in America” style cheese, were two Wisconsin cheese makers.
They were Eldore Hanni and Alfred Guggisberg, who were both of Swiss background (as can be seen by their names here).
Eldore was second generation Swiss, living in the heart of dairy country in Wisconsin, where much of the cheese making was of Swiss and German influence. Alfred moved to Pennsylvania from his home country- Switzerland.
Alfred Guggisberg was only 16 when he began to make cheese in the mountain pastures of Switzerland (the Alps). He furthered those skills at the famous Swiss cheese maker’s institute before coming to the United States in 1947. Here, he settled in the Doughty Valley in Charm, Ohio to work with the Amish farmers as a cheese maker. By the 1960’s, Alfred had developed a new style of cheese, which became the Baby Swiss cheese (1968). This was patterned after the Emmentaler of his homeland, but was much smaller and made with a richer milk. His focus in doing this was to develop a milder flavor for the American palate. Today, the Guggisberg cheese company is still thriving.
Eldore Hanni was a second-generation Swiss immigrant, who began making specialty cheese as a teenager (he managed a cheese factory at the age of 17). His strength was developing new recipes and in the early 1970’s, Eldore began working on a recipe for Baby Swiss. Later in the 70’s, he moved to the Amish area of central Pennsylvania to establish his new dairy and work with the milk of the Amish farmers. This eventually became Penn Cheese which flourishes to this day, although Eldore has retired.
There was a similar and parallel evolution for both men in developing this cheese. It resulted in a cheese with smaller holes and a creamier flavor from the use of full fat milk. It did not need to age as long and hence had a milder flavor.
What is a Baby Swiss:
In Switzerland, there is no ‘Swiss’ cheese, because there is a wide range of Gruyere and Emmentaler style cheese. Essentially, these can be divide into those with or without holes. In America, we call anything with holes Swiss Cheese. Most of these have origins in the dairy counties of Wisconsin, where many German and Swiss immigrants settled with their cheese making skills.
The “true” Swiss cheese is Emmentaler (never called Swiss), a cheese made in Switzerland under an Appellation of Controlled Origin to ensure that the integrity of the cheese is maintained. The technique, however, has been duplicated in numerous nations, leading to generic “Swiss” cheese for sale in many nations.
But this is a Baby Swiss Cheese…
The flavor of ‘Baby Swiss’ cheese is buttery, nutty, and creamy. The cheese melts very well, making it suitable for a wide range of dishes. The small holes also make the cheese easier to work with, since especially large holes can pose problems in salads and other dishes which involve slices of the cheese. Some delis also label baby Swiss cheese as ‘Lacy Swiss,’ since the cheese looks like fine lace, but those are actually made from a lower fat milk.
How is this cheese made:
This is a cow’s milk cheese made with a mixture of bacteria. Besides the normal lactose converting bacteria, it contains another special propionic bacteria that breaks down the lactic acid in the cheese and generates carbon dioxide, which forms bubbles in the cheese as it ages. This is quite similar to bread dough rising but takes much longer.
The longer the cheese is allowed to age, the more complex the flavor gets, and the larger the holes will become.
One of the primary steps in making this style of cheese is a very slow conversion of lactose to lactic acid.
This is accomplished by:
- Controlling the amount of culture and ripening time.
- Removing whey and replacing with warm water early in the process to limit the culture’s food supply (lactose).
This will result in the very elastic curd structure, and functions to hold the gas in the cheese as the holes develop. This is most obvious in the finished cheese, with round glossy looking holes and the elastic ability to bend the cheese slices without it breaking.
To make ‘Baby Swiss’ cheese, several things about the cheese making process are altered from traditional ‘Swiss:’
- The cheese is made with whole milk, for a richer, buttery flavor.
- It is usually a much smaller wheel of cheese, about 5 pounds.
- The use of a Mesophilic rather than a Thermophilic culture is used.
- The milk may also be cut with water, which slows the bacterial activity.
- Most importantly, Baby Swiss cheese is aged for a very short period of time, so that the holes do not have time to grow very large. The shorter curing time also results in a more mild flavor, which some consumers prefer.
Be sure to stop by Shisler’s Cheese House and pick up some Baby Swiss Cheese on your next stop!
Apple butter is essentially a thicker and spicier version of applesauce, traditionally made by slow-cooking sliced or pureed apples in copper kettles for up to 12 hours or more. The apples are constantly stirred with long paddles. The heat causes the fruit’s natural sugars to caramelize, thus giving apple butter its distinctive deep brown color.
The spicy flavor of this spread comes from the addition of traditional apple pie spices such as nutmeg, cloves and especially cinnamon. Commercially produced apple butter is generally available in grocery stores, but the traditional homemade variety is usually canned in jars for personal consumption or sold at local farmers’ markets, craft shows and festivals.
Apple butter does not contain any dairy products, but derives its name from the buttery texture of the finished apple preserves. In fact, some people use it as a condiment or spread for sandwiches, in the same way others might use mayonnaise or mustard. The preserves are said to be especially good on ham or pork sandwiches, since many traditional Pennsylvania Dutch or German recipes combine apples and pork-based meats. Even if it is not used specifically as a sandwich spread, it is also popular as a topping for pancakes, biscuits and buttered toast.
The tradition of apple butter is thought to have been brought to the United States by Germans who settled in Pennsylvania. The so-called “Pennsylvania Dutch”, a corruption of Deutsch, or German, were very pragmatic by nature, and realized they needed a way to preserve their food during the winter months. Since apples were plentiful during the fall season, they first began preserving the fruit as apple jam or applesauce. The canned applesauce did not have the shelf life they had hoped for, however, so a slow-cooking process was developed. The extra cooking time turned the applesauce into a more stable product, and the added spices also aided in the preservation process.
Duplicating the traditional apple butter making process today has proven to be a challenge, however. Some historical societies and other traditionalists still hold sessions where it is made, using volunteers to stir the pots in shifts and also maintain the fires to provide the heat. Decent apple preserves can also be made in an electric slow cooker at home. Applesauce blended to a very fine consistency can be placed in a slow cooker along with the traditional cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and cloves. This mixture should be allowed to reduce for at least 12 hours, with a slight gap in the lid to allow steam to escape. Specific recipes for converting applesauce into butter are available in a number of cookbooks and cooking websites.
Raclette is very popular in Europe, especially in the Swiss Alps and other ski regions. And that’s where it’s said Raclette came from.
While Switzerland supplies 80% of Raclettes, French Raclettes are slightly softer with a smooth and creamy flavour. Raclette is also the name of a Swiss dish where the cheese is melted in front of a fire or a special machine and the melted parts are scraped onto diner’s plates. It is then served with small potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions and air-dried meat called Viande des Grisons. Raclette comes in round and square shapes and can be served with Vin de Savoie.
Today, few houses have an open fireplace, so to simulate the process we now have Raclette Melter that hold a block or half wheel of cheese under a heating element. Once melted, the cheese is being scraped off onto the prepared potatoes.
Another variety is a Raclette Grill, which allows melting individual portions of cheese and offers a grill top to serve grilled vegetables, meat, chicken, or fish with the cheese. Many of these models come with a reversible grill top that can be used to make crepes or pancakes. And yet another variety can be converted into a mini pizza oven.
A Traditional Raclette Recipe
This simple raclette recipe should be the first you try on your raclette grill or raclette melter. Serves 4
- 8 small/medium potatoes
- 1.5 lb. Raclette Cheese
- Buendnerfleisch (cut in paper-thin slices)
- 1 jar pickled gherkin cucumbers (cornichons)
- 1 jar pickled onions
- freshly ground pepper
Wash potatoes and, with skins on, boil in a pot filled with salted water for about 20 min. Test with a knife if the potatoes are done. Keep warm until ready to use in an insulated potato basket. In the meantime remove the rind of the cheese and cut into 1/16″ thick slices using a adjustable wire slicer. Arrange gherkins, onions, and Buendnerfleisch on a platter and set aside until required. Turn raclette on to begin to heat up (allow for at least 5 minutes before using). For raclette grills: Each guest takes a slice of cheese, places it in their pan and slides it under the raclette grill to melt. It takes approximately 2 minutes to melt to a creamy consistency and 3 minutes for a more crispier top. In the meantime take a potato, place onto your plate and cut it into a few pieces, remove the pan from under the grill once it’s reached its preferred consistency and hold the pan onto its side to scrape the cheese out, using your wooden spatula. For raclette melter, each guest prepares potatoes and side dishes on their plates. When the cheese starts melting on the wheel, scrape the cheese onto the plate. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and paprika. Pair Grand Cru Raclette with Pinot Grigio, Fendant, a Swiss white wine, or a light, fruity red wine, such as Beaujolais.