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Cheese is a milk-based product consisting of protein and fat obtained from milk. All over the world, cheese is produced with different flavors and textures. Usually, the milk of cow, buffalo, goat and sheep is used to make cheese. The basic procedure of producing cheese involves curdling or coagulation of milk. It is also used as an ingredient in making various cheese dishes. The texture and color of the cheese depends upon the quality of milk used in its production. Some cheese is white in color while some are yellowish or cream in color. Cheese dishes are usually considered very rich and consumed as either appetizer or main dishes. Cheese pizza, cheese puffs, baked cheese potato and cheese toast are some of the popular cheese dishes well-liked in international cuisine.

Origin of Cheese and Cheese Dishes

There is no proven fact about the exact origin of cheese but according to archeologists, the earliest evidence of cheese making has been found in Egypt during 2000 BCE. It is believed that first cheese has been found by the nomadic tribes in Central Asia. The different types of cheese that were made in ancient times were slightly salty and sour in taste. The practice of making cheese had spread in Europe before the arrival of Romans.

Culinary Use of Cheese

Cheese is a staple in almost all cuisines. It has been used in making enormous dishes ranging from appetizers to desserts. Various cheese recipes use melted cheese as a basic ingredient. Cheese dishes can be baked, grilled, deep fried or toasted. It can also be eaten right away from the packet. Lasagna, cheese fondue, vegetable au gratin, salads, cheese macaroni and tiramisu are the most popular cheese recipes commonly eaten world-wide. The high protein content of cheese recipes make them suitable for people of all age groups.

Cuisines Commonly Making Cheese Dishes

Cheese is one of the main ingredients used in making Italian dishes. Pizza, pasta, risotto, tiramisu and many more dishes include cheese as the main ingredient. American cuisine, Spanish cuisine and even Indian cuisine also make wide use of cheese in various recipes. The Indian name for processed cottage cheese is ‘Paneer’ and it is a well-liked vegetarian food item. Greek cuisine is also famous for the highest consumption of cheese dishes all over the world.

Preferable Methods of Cooking Cheese Recipes

Cheese is a versatile ingredient that gives a rich and creamy texture to any dish. Cheese recipes include several methods of cooking as follows:

• Melting – cheese can be melted before adding to any dish. Melted cheese gives a nice flavor and adds richness. Cheese fondue is the best example of melted cheese.

• Baking – The most common method of cooking cheese dishes is baking. Cheese casserole, vegetable au gratin, lasagna, cheese pizza, cheese cake and baked chicken are some of the common baked cheese dishes.

• Grilling – This method makes use of dry heat method and gives a smoky flavor to the cheese dish. Grilled cheesy chicken, grilled cheese sandwich and grilled cod with cheese are few popular grilled cheese recipes.

• Broiling – Cheese is sometimes placed atop some dishes before baking and the excess heat burns the cheese. This browning gives a distinct flavor to the cheese dish and it’s a quiet popular practice in cooking.

• Deep-frying – Cheese puffs, deep-fried cheese chicken and Malakoff (Swiss deep fried cheese sticks) are some of the popular cheese dishes that make delectable appetizers and side dishes.

Nutritive Value of Cheese and Cheese Dishes

The nutritive value of cheese and cheese dishes is very high due to the presence of protein, calcium, phosphorous and fat. Cheese is concentrated milk; as a result it provides more nutrition with less consumption as compared to milk. 30 gm of cheese provides equal nutrition as provided by 200 gm of milk. Cheese has high saturated fats and this is the reason that it is sometimes considered unhealthy for people suffering from heart diseases. It is also claimed in some studies that cheese helps in preventing tooth decay and this is due to the presence of calcium and phosphorous.

Buying and Storing Cheese

Cheese is a readily available ingredient in all grocery shops. Whether it is purchased from any big grocery shop or from any local shop, a few tips should be kept in mind while buying and storing cheese and cheese products:

• Check for the bad or good mold on the cheese. If the rind of the cheese has yellow or pink mold then it’s a warning sign of the spoilage of cheese. The ammonia-like smell from cheese is another sign of its spoilage.

• Packaging of cheese is always important as its shelf life is not very long. If the packing is not proper then there are chances of getting cheese hard and dry. It is advised to buy fresh cut pieces of cheese from cheese mongers.

• It is recommended to taste the cheese before buying. Do not hesitate while asking for the cheese sample. In this way, retailer may also be able to understand your need and will offer you better options.

• Cheese is not a thing that should be purchased in bulk. Home refrigerator is not a suitable place to store cheese for a long period of time.

• Home refrigerators are considered too cold and dry for storing cheese and cheese products. If cheese has to be stored in refrigerator then a special cheese cave should be there with temperature ranging between 45-60 degrees with 80% humidity.

• It is good to wrap cheese in wax paper or in plastic sheet before storing in refrigerator. This practice allows cheese to remain moist.

Types of Cheese

Cheese can be classified according to its texture or its place of origin. Some of the popular cheese varieties are listed below:

• Asiago cheese – Asiago cheese is named after its place of origin in Italy. It has a nut-like flavor and use to make many Italian as well as European cheese dishes.

• Blue cheese – This type of cheese is generally made up of cow/goat milk. It has blue or blue-green mold and due to its color it is famous as blue cheese.

• Cheddar cheese – This is one of the most popular varieties of cheese in the world. It originated in an English village named ‘Cheddar’. It varies from mild taste to sharper taste and its color also varies from off-white to pale yellow.

• Feta cheese – It is one of the oldest cheeses of the world and known as a product of Greece. It has soft texture and made up of either sheep milk or with the mixture of sheep and goat milk.

• Mascarpone cheese – It is an Italian cheese with high fat content. It is considered to be the most rich and buttery cheese and is especially used to make dessert and savory cheese dishes.

• Parmesan cheese – It is an Italian cheese made up of cow’s milk. Parmesan cheese has hard texture with yellowish color. In most of the European cheese dishes, parmesan is used. Some other varieties of cheese are cream cheese, Swiss cheese, fontina cheese, goat cheese and many more. SEO of secondary words?

Cheese Trivia

• Greece is the number one country in consumption of cheese. The per capita cheese consumption here is around 54 pounds.

• More than 30% of world cheese is produced in USA.

• In USA, per year more than one-third milk produced is used to make cheese.