There are numerous myths and misconceptions about cheese that need to be dispelled before you go forth and preach the gospel of cheeses to your friends, family and the philistines who still think Edam is British and the rind on Camembert is edible paper. 

Many of these misconceptions are based in history when knowledge of the cheese making process was limited and refrigeration was not invented.  One classic example is the habit of pouring Port into Stilton.  It came about when there was no refrigeration and Stilton normally served in grand houses and banquets was presented whole in magnificent, deep porcelain jars.  At the bottom it was warm, dark, airless and a veritable haven for those creatures that thrived in this environment.   Holes were made in the Stilton and port was poured down to drown the maggots and help prolong the life of the Stilton.


The Guardian - Eating Cheese does not raise risk of heart attack or stroke, study finds...

Consuming cheese, milk and yoghurt – even full-fat versions – does not increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke, according to research that challenges the widely held belief that dairy products can damage health. The findings, from an international team of experts, contradict the view that dairy products can be harmful because of their high saturated fat content. The experts dismiss that fear as “a misconception [and] mistaken belief”.

Read full article here


MILK COMPOSITION BY SPECIES TABLE

If you are interested to learn about that buffalo milk is twice the fat content of sheep's milk and other interesting facts click here


FAQs

Where is the best place to store cheese?

As a simple rule “if it gets really sticky and sweaty unwrap it and let it breathe. If it starts to dry out and crack then wrap it in plastic wrap”. Otherwise it is best in wax paper, greaseproof paper or the paper they came in. NOT tin foil.

Most cheese is happiest in a cool, damp cellar or larder something few of us have today.  So instead place it is a sealed container in the fridge.  This will stop it from drying out but after a few days most will start to loose flavour.  Alternatively if you buy a lot of cheese regularly you can create your own “larder” using a number of creative alternatives from wooden “larders” available at many retailers to Chinese steam baskets and hang them in a cool place like the garage, a shed or out the window! Just remember preferably keep the blues separate from the rest unless you want blue cheddar!!!

Temperature?

Most cheese keeps best at its maturing temperature (usually between 50° - 60°F, 10° - 16°C). If you are keeping it too warm the cheese will sweat, ooze oil, feel pappy and smell too strong. If too cold it may look alright but the interior may dry out and so never ripen and eventually it is likely to crack and taste bland and plastic.

If you need to slow down the ripening in order to keep the cheese longer, store it in a cooler place (about 38° - 42°F, 5° - 8°C), wrapped in wax paper.

If you have an allergy to cheese can you eat goat or ewes milk cheese?

Many people have found that although they are allergic to cows’ milk products that they have no reaction to goat's or ewe's milk products.  It is definitely worth discussing with your doctor.

What is the difference between mozzarella in liquid and the firmer, more supple one, wrapped in plastic?

Traditional authentic mozzarella is a fresh cheese with soft, very moist texture and has a very short shelf life.  It is wonderful for salads as it absorbs the oils, and juices of the other ingredients and is soft and light in texture.  Commercially produced Mozzarella or Pizza Cheese is yellow, rubbery and a semi-soft cheese that keeps well, slices easily and has the wonderful stretchy texture essential for Pizzas. But it isn’t Mozzarella.

How do you chose a ripe Camembert?

The closer to the Best by Date, the softer and more flavoursome the cheese will become.

Why do you get the chalky centre in Camembert and Brie sometimes?

When a Camembert or Brie is young, the curd in the centre has not yet been broken down by the fermentation process into its characteristic soft, mushroomy flavoured texture.  

What is the rind on Camembert and Brie?  Can you eat it?

The high moisture and protein attracts a beautiful white 'bloom' of penicillium mould that grows like soft velvet.  Yes, its delicious, eat it.

What makes the rind of some cheese orange and sticky?

When cheeses are rubbed or washed in salt it encourages the growth of an orange coloured mould which tends to be pungent, farmyard and sticky.  It can also be gritty from the salt so try a small bit first.

Why do some cheeses vary in taste sometimes from one week to the next?

This is one of the wonderful things about cheese - that each batch is like a vintage of wine and has its own unique character affected by what the animals eat, the weather, the seasons and the individual skills of the Cheesemaker.

Why do cheddars not have rinds any more?

Modern cheddar is made in factories and aged in thick, breathable plastic to prevent any mould growing.  Only traditional cloth-wrapped Cheddar allowed to mature in cellars will develop a thin, nutty, earth rind.

What is the blue in blue cheese?

The wonderful blue/green colour does not come from copper wire as many people believe but from a harmless penicillin mould that goes blue when exposed to air.  When the young cheese is pierced with stainless steel rods, oxygen is let in causing the mould to turn blue.

What is low fat cheese?  How does this effect the flavour?

Cheese is generally made from full or whole milk.  However, when made from skimmed or semi-skimmed, the final fat content will be lower than normal.  It is, however, the fat in cheese that is responsible for its rich full flavour and texture and therefore there is inevitably a loss of some flavour and a difference in texture - this is more noticeable in some cheeses than in others.

Do you have a question about cheese you would like answered?  
Email it to me at cheese@thecheeseweb.com