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While there are hundred of cheese books available, most are large, weighty tomes with cheeses arranged by country, which means readers have to know where the cheese is from or search through a confusing index to find it. THE CHEESE LOVER'S COMPANION is the most comprehensive, indispensable, user–friendly A–to–Z guide that includes everything about cheese. Included are entries from Asiago to Zamorano; cheese terminology; information on how cheese is made along with tips for pairing cheese with wine and beer. The ...
While there are hundred of cheese books available, most are large, weighty tomes with cheeses arranged by country, which means readers have to know where the cheese is from or search through a confusing index to find it. THE CHEESE LOVER'S COMPANION is the most comprehensive, indispensable, user–friendly A–to–Z guide that includes everything about cheese. Included are entries from Asiago to Zamorano; cheese terminology; information on how cheese is made along with tips for pairing cheese with wine and beer. The small, handy format makes it easy to take the book along when choosing and buying cheese.
How Cheese is Made
Cheesemaking is a blend of art and science that's intriguingly simple yet remarkably intricate. This process differs with each cheese, and there are myriad variations at every juncture, including temperature, cutting of the curd, draining, molding, and ripening. Of course each step requires perfect timing, which is just as pivotal to making good cheese as it is to all of life.
The soul of every cheese is the milk used to make it, and cheesemakers know that success relies not only on the animal (and its breed) from which the milk comes, but on the terroir and the time of year that produced the plant life on which the animal grazed, not to mention the time of day it was milked. The complex formula for success continues with numerous other factors, including whether the milk is pasteurized or raw, starter cultures and molds, the production techniques, and the aging process. All are aspects masterfully manipulated by the cheesemaker.
Following are the basic steps for making most cheeses. For broader descriptions of individual cheesemaking-related terms (such as bandaging and milling) or techniques for special cheese styles (such as blue-veined cheeses and pasta filata cheeses), see the cross-reference list at the end of this section.
Coagulation: This initial step transforms the milk into curd (solids) and whey(liquid). The milk may be allowed to sour and curdle naturally, a process that, for most cheesemakers, requires too much time. To speed the naturalprocess, cheesemakers typically begin by adding a starter to slightly warm milk to ripen it. This starter (also known as a bacterial culture) converts the milk sugar (lactose) into lactic acid and balances the acidity (pH level) so the milk protein (casein) will continue to coagulate with the addition of rennet. Finally, the rennet is added and the milk completes its coagulation, forming one huge curd. It should be noted that the rennet and starter are symbiotic and the starter remains alive and active during the ripening process, contributing characteristics such as flavor, texture, and complexity.
Cutting the Curd: The curd is cut when it reaches the appropriate texture for the cheese being made. Cutting,which may be done manually or by machine, separates the curd into uniform pieces and helps expel the whey. The cut curd is stirred and the whey drained off. The smaller the curds, the more liquid is released, the result of which will be a denser, drier cheese. For example, cheddar is typically made from rice-size bits. On the other hand, softer cheeses are made from larger curds, which contain more whey. For many cheeses—such as camembert and some chèvres—the curd isn't cut at all but simply scooped directly into perforated molds from which the whey drains.
Cooking (or Heating) and Stirring the Curds: Depending on the type of cheese being made, the curds may or may not undergo cooking or heating, the latter a less heat-intensive process. Heating the curds tightens the protein network, firms the texture, and expels more whey. As a rule, cooking the curds at higher temperatures and for longer times produces firm cheeses; lower heat for shorter periods creates softer cheeses. Curds for some cheeses, blue-veined cheeses, for example, must remain uncooked for the texture to be porous enough to allow in air to feed the bacteria that creates the bluing. During cooking, the curds are stirred (either by hand or mechanically), which keeps them from forming a skin. Generally speaking, the curds for soft cheeses are agitated gently, while those for firmer cheeses are stirred more vigorously. Once the curds reach the desired consistency, the resulting whey is drained or pumped off.
Draining: The process of draining the whey from the curds is continuous in the previous two steps. In fact, drainage continues, little by little, throughout much of the cheesemaking process. Besides during the steps of cutting and cooking the curds, drainage takes place during processes like cheddaring (stacking large blocks of curd to expel the whey), molding (where the liquid drains naturally through perforated molds), and pressing.
Salting: The Salting procedure may either be done now, with salt added directly to the curds, or after the cheese is molded, in which case the cheese may be dry-salted or soaked in brine. Salting seasons and preserves the cheese, reduces its moisture content, and helps impede bacterial growth, which slows the aging process so the cheese can acquire the desired flavor and texture for its type.
Molding and Pressing: This is the step where the curds may be turned into a mold, which will give them their final shape. That mold may be a simple muslin bag, a perforated mold, or simply a hoop (with open top and bottom) to support the sides. During molding the whey continues to drain off. Depending on the cheese being made, this process may occur naturally through gravity, or the cheese may undergo pressing, either mechanically, by hand, or by stacking the molds so the weight presses the cheese. The more a cheese is pressed, the harder the final texture.
Ripening: This is the final and, most would say, most important stage of cheesemaking. Of course, not all cheeses are ripened (or aged), specifically fresh cheeses such as cottage cheese, cream cheese, and ricotta. But for most cheese, ripening is a critical component contributing to its final and distinctive flavor, texture, aroma, and character. It's also during this aging period that the rind of the cheese is developed, either naturally or with assistance, as with washed-rind cheeses. Cheese-makers carefully monitor the ripening environment (be it a natural cave or specially designed room) to keep the temperature (around 50°F) and humidity constant. How long a cheese is allowed to ripen is also an art. Soft cheeses ripen quickly and therefore require relatively low temperatures and high humidity (around 95 percent). On the other hand, hard cheeses typically require less humidity, usually no more than 80 percent. Bottom line: moisture accelerates ripening. Many cheeses . . .The Cheese Lover's Companion
Posted January 5, 2011
It would seem logical that an ebook that was to be used as a reference would have hot links all over the place. This ebook ia listed as having many cross-references, it does, but no links. This makes this whole work almost useless. In the time it takes to scroll and scroll through the nonexistent links I can find the info on a computerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 5, 2011
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