Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Traditional Use Of Dairy Produce: Part 2 - Cheese

By Owen Jones

The Basic Preparation Food: Dairy Products.


Cheeses are manufactured from milk which has been naturally or artificially turned sour. 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 agent, usually rennet.

Colouring and salt are usually added too. The whey is then drained off and the curds are pressed into moulds where they are 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 and its pasture, the breed of cow, sheep or other animal and the type of bacteria all govern the final product.

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 constituent parts of cheese are roughly: 33% fat, 33% protein and 33% water with salt, colouring, sugar etc making up the other 1%. These proportions do vary from area to area as some manufacturers use full cream milk, others skimmed milk and yet others add extra cream. Yet others add extra sugar, although most do not. All cheeses have a high calcium content and can be considered 'concentrated milk' and stored in the same way.

Many people say that cheese must not be kept in a fridge and although storing in water, as for milk, is not a viable option, a cool larder is certainly ideal. Try the traditional method of suspending it from a hook in muslin in a cool, breezy place. If it is hot, moisten the cheesecloth with water to which a little vinegar has been added.

Cheese is typically served in Europe with a salad or/and bread and is often served after or instead of the sweet course. 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 little known fact is that many people find cooked cheese indigestible and the reason lies in its structure. Here 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. 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 content, but when melted, the fat frequently covers the protein and stops the digestive juices reaching it in the stomach. This results in, its digestion is delayed until the fat has been absorbed by the intestines. Cheese can be made more digestible in the following way:

a] Cooking it with some starchy foodstuff, since the starch will absorb the fat, thus preventing it covering the protein.

2] Using seasoning: Cayenne Pepper or mustard will irritate the intestinal lining, causing the release of extra digestive juices.

3] Cooking quickly at high temperature. This prevents the protein from becoming tough and stringy and therefore, harder to digest. Add cheese late to sauces.

4] Adding alkali: so, generous pinch of Bicarbonate of Soda per 75g (3 ozs) will help neutralize the fatty acids and make the proteins easier to digest.

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