Cheese Cloth is a soft white cotton cloth which is used for various purposes, while cooking in the kitchen, the most primary use being to hang cheese curd and separate the whey from it. It is a piece of very soft muslin cloth which comes in a variety of weaves ranging from coarse to fine and very fine. It is unbleached and undyed as it comes in direct contact with the food to be consumed. It is loosely woven and is also known as mesh cloth or strain cloth. Prior to the invention of sturdy metallic and plastic strainers, all straining tasks were done using the cheesecloth.
The first cheese cloth is made of muslin produced in Bangladesh. On his trip to India, Marco Polo came across this cloth and took it back to the European countries from where it travelled to the United States with the European immigrants. It became popular for making cheese and its use spread to other areas also.
Uses of Cheese Cloth
Cheese Making – The primary use is to hang the cheese after it is curdled to separate the whey completely. The more the amount of whey separated, the harder the cheese, and the lesser the amount of whey separated the softer the cheese.
Strainer – Before the sturdy wired strainer or strainers made of wood, steel or plastic was invented the cheesecloth was used for all straining jobs. It was used to strain broths, juices, soups, stews and so on.
Tofu Making – Similar to making cheese, the cheese cloth is used to make tofu. The tofu is separated from its whey by tying the curdled mixture in the cheese cloth and hanging it with a vessel underneath to collect the whey.
Bundling of Herbs – Many dishes require a number of herbs to be used while cooking. One of the ways to use herbs is to bundle them up in a soft cheese cloth and dip in the boiling liquid. The flavours are absorbed in the dish without the need to collect and strain out the herbs later on.
Prevent Doughs from Drying – Cheese cloth is dampened and spread on various doughs to prevent them from drying before they are ready to be rolled and baked. It can also be wrapped in the cheese cloth and kept for refrigerating.
How to Buy a Cheese Cloth
When buying a cheese cloth one must be check whether it is 100 % cotton, unbleached, lint free and microwave safe. It can be of any weave depending on the requirement. The cloth should be selected keeping in mind whether the requirement is for making soft cheese or hard cheese or other household kitchen requirements. The cheese cloth comes in different weaves of muslin. Each square inch has a certain number of thread weaves, which ascertain the thickness or the looseness of the cloth.
Popular Brands Selling Cheese Cloth
• Fox Run
• Regency Naturals