Thursday, November 8, 2012

How American Cheddar Cheese is Made

From "Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 2"
 
Since American Cheddar cheese is the kind that is commonly used in this country, the way in which it is made will be well to know. The milk used for this kind of cheese is first inspected as to cleanliness and the extent of fermentation it has undergone, and when these points are ascertained, it is ripened; that is, allowed to sour to a certain degree of acidity.

At this stage, coloring matter is added, after which the milk is prepared for setting by bringing it to a certain temperature. With the temperature at the right point, rennet is added to coagulate the milk, or form the curd. The milk is then allowed to remain undisturbed until the action of the rennet is at a certain point, when the curd is cut into little cube-shaped pieces by drawing two sets of knives through it and thus is separated from the whey.

As soon as the curd is cut, the temperature of the mass is raised to help make the curd firm and to cause the little cubes to retain their firmness, and during the entire heating process the whole mass is stirred constantly to assist in the separation from the whey. When the curd is sufficiently firm, the whey is removed and the particles of curd are allowed to adhere and form into a solid mass. If necessary, the curd is cut again into small pieces to get rid of the excess whey; but if the curd is too dry, the pieces must be piled up until they are four or five deep.

During this process, which is known as the cheddaring of the cheese, the curd is treated until it is of the proper texture to be milled, that is, put into a mill and ground into small pieces. The object of milling the curd is to cut it into pieces small enough to permit of uniform salting and the further escape of whey. When the curd has been brought to this point, it is salted and then pressed into molds.

Finally, it is wrapped and cured, or ripened.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pineapple Cheese

Pineapple cheese is named after its shape rather than its flavor, although there are rumors that some pineapple flavor is noticeable near the oiled rind. This flavor does not penetrate through to the Cheddar center. Many makers of processed cheese have tampered with the original, so today you can't be sure of anything except getting a smaller size every year or two, at a higher price. Originally six pounds, the Pineapple has shrunk to nearly six ounces. The proper bright-orange, oiled and shellacked surface is more apt to be a sickly lemon.

Always an ornamental cheese, it once stood in state on the side-board under a silver bell also made to represent a pineapple. You cut a top slice off the cheese, just as you would off the fruit, and there was a rose-colored, fine-tasting, mellow-hard cheese to spoon out with a special silver cheese spoon or scoop. Between meals the silver top was put on the silver holder and the oiled and shellacked rind kept the cheese moist. Even when the Pineapple was eaten down to the rind the shell served as a dunking bowl to fill with some salubrious cold Fondue or salad.

Made in the same manner as Cheddar with the curd cooked harder, Pineapple's distinction lies in being hung in a net that makes diamond-shaped corrugations on the surface, simulating the sections of the fruit. It is a pioneer American product with almost a century and a half of service since Lewis M. Norton conceived it in 1808 in Litchfield County, Connecticut. There in 1845 he built a factory and made a deserved fortune out of his decorative ingenuity with what before had been plain, unromantic yellow or store cheese.

Perhaps his inspiration came from cone-shaped Cheshire in old England, also called Pineapple cheese, combined with the hanging up of Provolones in Italy that leaves the looser pattern of the four sustaining strings.