All things cheese in France


Monday, 14 March 2016

A Look at Pairing in the USA

The Wall Street Journal published a great article on cheese in America worth taking a look at called The A to Z Guide to Cheese Plus Pungent Pairings . It features an interesting combination of world cheeses with amusing descriptions to go with them, like " a nutty, savory, beef-broth-y stunner with plenty of “crunchies” (amino acid clusters) that add a pleasant Pop Rocks-for-adults texture to many aged cheeses" or Époisses being "Stinky, funky, smooth as a velvet Elvis".

Then it proposes, with photos, some cheeseplate combinations of the selections they feature.  Quite interesting combinations, not your usual ones either, which is the point of the article.  There are some American cheese I would really like to try but can not get here in France, but there are some beautiful Italian and Spanish ones that if you look hard you can find here and in the UK.

This aticle proves that cheese has definately 'arrived' in the US and just like wine Americans are jumping into it with both feet!  And as a side note, Culture Magazine reported that before banning them, the US Food & Drug Administration has decided to  "reconsider the safety criteria" for raw milk cheeses !  Great news for all.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

The internet is an amazing thing.  You can find all kinds of useful and useless information, anytime, anywhere.  Following a link from a podcast about the International Cheese Competition, I read a very interesting article, albeit a bit old the other day regarding terroir and cheese.  It was in the Feb 2002 issue of Wine Business Monthly and is called The Terroir of Cheese by Maria Lorraine Binchet.

It is one of the best and most focused discussion of the subject of terroir and cheese I have read.  It describes the main differences between terroir in wine and in cheese and then goes indepth on the subject relative to cheese from the land, to the animals, to the process and the producers, all who add their special piece to the terroir of a fromage. Well worth the read!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Cheese & Sex


Cheese eaters have a more active sex life?  Who knew! Apparently according to an article on the website MinuteBuzz, cheese-addict have more sex than otherpeople.  Yep! You read it right. The results of a survey made by the American dating site Skout, after questioning 4600 members about their sexual habits, the cheese-lovers have it...or at least have it more often!

According to researchers, it is the tryptophan in cheese that make the difference. This amino acid helps boosts serotonin or "the pleasure hormone", so people who eat lots of cheese have higher levels of the stuff coursing through their libido! The best part is that the stronger the cheese strong, the stronger the link.  Yeehah!  Now all you gotta do if eat more cheese especially the smelly, strong ones!




Saturday, 31 October 2015

Cheese - the new wine! Why cheese is now the new healthy food.


My friend Anne, a confirmed cheese fan, sent me this article The Health Benefits of Cheese in Berkeley Wellness | .  In it researchers say that cheese, not wine, may be what is largely responsible for the so-called French Paradox! Really?  Whoa! How cool is that? 

In short, some studies are now clearly showing that cheese is indeed good for you!  Despite the saturated fats that exist in cheese all the probiotic properties coupled with the vitamins and minerals are just the tip of the iceberg.

Evidently some studies point to the conjugated linoleic acid in dairy fat and calcium in combination with other dairy components which help reduce body fat. Eating cheese also helps reduce cavities, keeps blood sugars in check for those with diabetes and may even help reduce colon cancer.

Apparently the good news is that recent studies now point towards the health benefits of cheese that us cheeseheads already knew, but now the rest of the world is starting to wake up to! 

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Milk Facts - Cow, Goat, Sheep

Source:WorkSmartLiveSmart.com
Not all milk is the same, we all know that, but besides the obvious like the animal and which breed, what is the real difference?  

All milk is made up of water, fat, protein, lactose and minerals but it is the composition of these constituents that makes the difference between them.  The fat and protein vary greatly.  The higher the solids content, the stronger the affect on the acidification and coagulation properties for cheese but also how the human body deals with it in milk form.  The fat and protein content in cow's and goat's milk are fairly similar compared to sheep' milk; however the structure of the fat and protein is what's important.


Fat Content

98% of the fat in milk consists of triglycerides and are made up of fatty acid chains that vary in length. This issue is the size of the fat globules and the type of protein chain.  Sheep and goat’s milk have short to medium chains producing smaller globules, cow’s milk has longer structures. The longer the chain length, the more easily it separates from the water but the more difficult for the human body to breakdown.

While sheep are notoriously difficult to milk, mostly because they have very small teats, the milk is naturally homogenized. This means the cream does not separate out of it but it also makes the milk easier to digest. Sheep produce less milk than their confrere.  The upside is it has a very high fat content with the finest fat globules of the lot.  Goat’s milk come second to sheep’s milk; with cow’s milk a distant third, having the largest fat globules and the longer fatty acid chains. Goat's milk is the closest to human milk and the least fatty of the three. It is the easiest on the human digestive system. It generally requires more milk to make cheese but because of the milks’ fat structure, the cheeses are less suited to aging.

Cow’s milk is the highest in water content of the three, which of course helps produce more quantity-wise.  The typical breeds used for ‘industrial’ milk produce milk that is less well rounded in terms of character.  For drinking, this is not an issue and the fact that due to its' structure, the cream rises and allows for making different percentages of fat content milk.  For cheese production, the regional breeds in most countries produce milk with more complexity and a higher fat content which makes for better cheeses.


Milk Protein

Milk protein differs between milk types.  There are two major types: caseins and whey proteins.  Casein being the major of the two is what transforms when making cheese.  In sheep’s milk 82% of the proteins are casein while it is 80% cow’s milk and 75% in goat’s milk, the rest being whey based. Casein protein has four different types and the proportions differ between the milk types – goat contains more of the beta caseins while cows’ has more alpha caseins with a particular one being the protein responsible for cows’ milk allergies. 

What is important for cheese is that casein coagulates to form the structural backbone of cheese curd. Sheep’s milk coagulates more rapidly and forms much firmer curd thus sheep’s milk produces twice the amount of cheese per unit compared to cow’s or goat’s milk. The richness and cheese yield of sheep's milk makes up for the lower quantity of milk per animal.  Goat’s milk with its lower amount of alpha casein and its beta casein has a lower yield (10 to 15 percent less) and is less adaptable to different cheese type.

It’s the sugar stupid!

Somebody who cannot digest lactose is said to be lactose intolerant. But it is the major sugar – not protein – found in animal milk that causes the problem here.  The intolerance comes when the body’s ability to synthesizing the lactase is compromised.  Lactase is the enzyme responsible for lactose metabolism and in the cheese making process, it is the energy source for our friendly bacteria.

All three of the milk types contain similar levels of lactose; therefore, one is not better than another for those with lactose intolerance when it comes to drinking or using milk.  The good news is that during the process of making and aging cheese, most lactose is lost when the whey drains off and the little that is left begins to convert to lactase.  The older the cheese, the less lactose!  So long aged cheeses like Comté, Beaufort or the Pyrenees sheep’s milk cheeses all have practically no lactose left in them.

Just a fun note:  Milks vary in colour. Cow’s milk tends to be yellow and varies by season because of the level of beta-carotene found in green forages.  Some breeds process this pigment differently or more efficiently and produce very yellow milk – Jersey cows being a good example.  Sheep and goat milks lack beta-carotene because they convert it into vitamin A which is not pigmented so these milks are whiter than cow’s milk.




Component
Unit
Cow Whole (3.25% fat)
Goat
Sheep


--- Amount per 100 g ---
Overall Composition




Water
g
88.32
87.03
80.7
Energy
kcal
60
69
108
Carbohydrate2
g
4.52
4.45
5.36
Fat
g
3.25
4.14
7
Protein
g
3.22
3.56
5.98
Minerals (Ash)
g
0.69
0.82
0.96
Vitamins




Vitamin A
µg
28
57
44
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
mg
0.183
0.138
0.355
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
mg
0.107
0.277
0.417
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)
mg
0.362
0.31
0.407
Vitamin C
mg
0
1.3
4.2
Vitamin D
IU
40
12
ND3
Minerals (Ash)




Calcium
mg
113
134
193
Magnesium
mg
10
14
18
Potassium
mg
143
204
137
Sodium
mg
40
50
44
Zinc
mg
0.4
0.3
0.54
Carbohydrate Detail




Lactose4
g
5.26
ND
ND
Fat Detail




Cholesterol
mg
10
11
27
Fatty acids, total saturated
g
1.865
2.677
4.603
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated
g
0.812
1.109
1.724
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated
g
0.195
0.149
0.308





Source:




http://www.milkfacts.info/Nutrition%20Facts/Nutrient%20Content.htm#Tab2