Time to count our choices again…I’ve been telling people that we have between 50 and 60 cheese choices. Surprise! We are now at 79! That only scratches the surface of what is available in the world. I think I have access to about a 1000 through my current wholesalers alone.
Someone asked me this week how there can be so many different cheeses. In some respects making cheese is fairly simple. You take milk, cream or both and add a starter. Once this has curdled then you slowly heat the batch until the whey and curds have totally separated. Then you drain the whey from the curds. The curds become the cheese. If I have some milk or cream that has started to turn funny, that’s what I do. The results are a very plain sort of ricotta. I use it to cook with…watch for another post soon showing what I did with this batch. Obviously, there is much more to cheese making than that because the cheese you buy usually doesn’t look much like this. That’s because there are so many variables in making cheese. Here’s a just a basic list of options:
- What type of animal the milk comes from
- What that animal was eating
- Whether the milk is skimmed, used warm, cooled first or if extra cream is added…or maybe even another type of milk
- What type of starter is used
- Hard cheeses require rennet…so what type of rennet is used.
- The temperature the milk is processed at
- Whether the curds are washed or cheddared
- How much moisture is pressed out of the cheese
- Is anything extra added…like blue mold, herbs, beer, whiskey, nuts, mushrooms, fruit, spices…the choices are endless
- What process is used as the cheese ripens…this is a whole category of other options including ripening temperature, the development of a bloomy rind, washed rind options, etc
- How long is the cheese ripened
Perhaps that gives you an idea of the amazing variations and combinations that are possible. It is also why it is very difficult to copy a particular cheese. It is virtually impossible to get all the factors the same.
Back to our new cheeses. We will be introducing these cheeses during our Saturday cheese tastings over the next few weeks. Here is a list of what is coming up:
- Award winning 5 Brothers firm cheese from Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheeses
- Santa Lucia Provolone
- Tartufo – Sheep’s milk Pecorino with Truffle Pate imported from Italy
- Medium Cheddar – Pine River Cheese & Butter Coop (est. in 1885)
- 9 year old cheddar – Pine River Cheese & Butter Coop (est. in 1885)
- Swiss Emmenthal
- Bellavitano Merlot Reserve Cheddar
But even with these new cheeses I know that someone is going to say, “More Cheese Please!” In fact, there are several other cheeses that we are waiting for already! And this morning someone said, “Can you find….?”