A cheesy affair
When it comes to making cheese, the only limit is your imagination.
Take it from cheese expert Mark Todd, a consultant of the California Milk Advisory Board who has been holding lectures on cheese for 25 years now in 34 countries, including the Philippines.
“Do you know how many kinds of cheese are there? If you shake your head and answer no, you are probably correct. Nobody knows just how many kinds of cheese there are,” he said in a recent forum on the different kinds of California cheeses held in Quezon City.
“There are as many kinds of cheese as your imagination,” said Todd, who is also known as “The Cheese Dude.”
Fresh cheeses are those that have not been aged or ripened, and retain much of the flavor of fresh milk. These include cottage cheese, cream cheese, mascarpone, mozzarella, and ricotta. Soft and soft-ripened cheeses, on the other hand, include brie and camembert, while semi-hard or table cheeses are those that have been aged for only a few weeks to about a month or two, such as cheddar, edam, feta, and gouda. Dry jack (aged with a nutty flavor) and romano (with a sharp and piquant flavor) belong to the type of very hard cheeses that can be grated or crumbled.
At present, the United States accounts for 25 percent of all the cheese produced worldwide. California, in particular, produces 20 million tons of milk – more than the total volume produced by New Zealand.
“Why California cheese? Because you are assured of quality, consistency, value for money, and high safety standards,” Todd said.
Better yet, The Cheese Dude is urging Filipinos to try and create homemade cheeses using Real California Milk.
“The availability of California cheeses in most supermarkets gives you the convenience of adding more texture and flavor to your dish when you need it,” said Todd.
“However, in case you’re looking for a specific taste for your dish, you can experiment creating your own cheese using Real California Milk at home,” he added.
CMAB country representative Reji Retugal-Onal said dairy products made with Real California Milk are packed with flavor because they are produced by well-fed cows from family farms in California.
“They are also filled with nutrients like protein, calcium, Vitamin D, and potassium that are needed by both children and adults, according to MyPlate, the US Department of Agriculture’s food guide,” she added.
At least 99 percent of the dairies in California, which is the number one producer of fluid milk in the US, are family-owned.
Indeed, Todd’s lecture calls to mind a quote of another American, the critic and anthropologist Clifton Fadiman: “Cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality.” We clink our milk glasses and raise our cheese forks to that.
Homemade Queso Blanco
1 gallon whole milk
1/3 + 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons kosher salt
Step 1: In a large pot, slowly heat whole milk to 190 F degree. This should take about 20 - 25 minutes, go low and slow, stirring often.
Step 2: Incorporate 1/3 cup vinegar evenly. Turn off the gas, and let sit for 10 minutes. At this point curds are separating from the whey, which is becoming greenish and mostly clear. If whey remains very cloudy – add additional 1/8 cup vinegar and allow to set another 10 minutes.
Step 3: With a strainer ladle, gently remove the curds to a dampened cheese cloth-lined strainer placed over a bowl, salting as you add curd.
Step 4: Place the loose curd ball into cheesecloth. Press into cheese mold and drain for one hour.
Step 5: Flip cheese in mold. Press with sterile one lb weight (i.e. bottle full of water) for one hour. This may be served immediately, or you can continue pressing for up to 4 hours. Refrigerate and tightly cover. This will last for up to 3 to 4 days.
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