Cheese is a favourite dairy product relished and loved by all of us which renders a unique flavour and taste to the dishes. Cheese that has a distinct mild, fruity, acidic, aromatic, pleasant and creamy taste is a key ingredient used extensively in all cuisines, globally. In the last decade, Indians too got introduced to a wide range of cheese varieties Parmesan, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Feta and has become a staple of sorts right from toasts, sandwiches, pav bhaji, pizza, burgers and pasta or crackers for that extra taste and flavour.
Cheese is manufactured from the milk of cow, goat and buffalo by coagulation of the milk protein casein. It is categorized into different forms based on the texture, flavour and aging process. The enzyme rennet is added to acidify the milk which helps in the coagulation process. The solids are separated and pressed into the final product. Also Read: Nutritional Importance Of Milk For Kids
At least a thousand varieties of cheese are produced, their flavour and texture depending upon the origin of milk, fat content, where they were grown, bacteria, mould, processing and ageing. Different kind of herbs and spices like pepper, garlic are used as a flavouring agent while making cheese.
For a certain kind of cheeses, milk is curdled by adding vinegar or lemon juice. Most of the cheeses are acidified to a minimal extent by bacteria, which converts sugars into lactic acid and finally rennet – a complex set of enzymes present in the animal stomach is added to complete the coagulation process.
However, in India many cheese varieties are vegetarian. The fungus Mucor miehei and different species of the Cynara thistle are used as a vegetarian source for rennet. There are several types of cheese available each of which has a distinct flavour, taste and used in varied ways. For all cheese lovers let’s explore the common type of cheese used widely in India.
Different Types Of Cheese
Cottage cheese is nothing but paneer. This soft, creamy and fresh cheese does not undergo ripening or ageing process to obtain the flavour. It is usually made at homes by adding lemon juice or vinegar to full cream milk which curdles the milk and drained wholly and shaped to get the final product. It is a great source of protein and low on calories. The wealth of other essential nutrients includes B vitamins, calcium, selenium, phosphorus, zinc and copper. Cottage cheese is used to make varieties of dishes like paneer butter masala, paneer tikka, salads and paneer bhurji.
Cottage cheese helps to lose weight, build muscle mass, good for diabetics and improves bone health.
Mozzarella is a soft, white and chewy texture cheese with high moisture content originated in Italy and made mainly from buffalo’s milk or cow’s milk. Mozzarella contains strains of bacteria that work as probiotics such as lactobacillus fermentum and lactobacillus cuneiform. Pizza or pasta mozzarella is quite popular across the globe and used in making a spectrum of baked food. It is low on calories and sodium and has a good amount of protein, calcium and phosphorus.
The goodness of probiotics in mozzarella cheese improves gut health and bolsters immunity.
Feta cheese is a soft, salty and white cheese originated from Greece made from sheep’s or goats’ milk which has a tangy taste and creamy texture and melds well with all ingredients. It is packed in brine to retain freshness which increases the sodium content. Feta cheese is loaded with CLA conjugated linoleic acid and also contains calcium and protein. Feta cheese can be crumbled and added to the salads, eggs, or vegetable dips.
Heaped with CLA, feta cheese is helpful to maintain weight and improve body composition. Also Read: Feta, The Cheesy Way To Good Health
Cheddar cheese is a quite popular and semi-hard cheese variety originated in England. The richness of protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin K makes it a highly nutritious cheese. It is made from cow’s milk that is matured for several months which gives it a smooth texture and renders a mild to sharp taste. It is used in preparing grilled starters like cheese toast, cheese grilled chicken and cheese pasta.
The goodness of vitamin K and calcium helps to strengthen the bones promote blood flow and lower the risk of heart disease.
Parmesan cheese is a hard variety which is generally aged for 12-36 months that gives a hard and granular texture which is originated from Northern Italy. It is processed from raw unpasteurized milk which is aged for 12 months to kill the harmful bacteria and offer a strong complex flavour. Parmesan is heaped with a wealth of nutrients which includes protein, vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and sodium. It is added to pizzas, pasta, eggs and sliced with fruits or grilled vegetables and nuts.
Parmesan cheese with an immense amount of calcium and phosphorus promotes growth and development of bone.
How To Make Cheese At Home
The process of cheese making can be a tough task, especially if you are trying to make it at home. Hard types like cheddar, gouda etc., can be really a troublesome task, but the soft ones like mozzarella, cream cheese, ricotta and cottage cheese can be made at home and it is quite simple. All you need is the right type of milk, acidic agent or lemon juice, salt, a cooking thermometer, muslin cloth and a strainer. Home-made cheese is not only yummy but it’s also healthy. Try making these soft varieties of cheese at home and relish it.
1 litre of yoghurt
Salt as required
1 tsp dry mint powder
In a bowl take yoghurt and smoothen it well.
Add salt, mint and whisk well.
Take a muslin cloth and hang this mixture and let it stay for 24 hours.
Open the cloth the next day, it will look like clay, roll out into small balls and store in the refrigerator by rubbing it with coconut or olive oil.
Home-Made Ricotta Cheese
2 litres of full cream milk
2 tbsp vinegar or lime juice
¼ tsp salt
Boil milk to a temperature nearing to 80 to 93C.
As the milk is being boiled, add ¼ teaspoon of salt.
As the milk reaches the correct temperature, switch off the flame and add vinegar or lime juice.
Milk will begin to curdle, remove the clumpy part and put in a muslin cloth and allow it strain well for an hour.
Relish it with salads, breads or as a stuffing in ravioli.
Cheese is a widely enjoyed dairy product with whopping amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals which promotes overall health. The wealth of nutrients in cheese improves gut health, strengthen the bone, support weight loss and reduce the risk of heart diseases. However certain varieties of cheese are high on calories and sodium content and should be taken in limited amounts. Largely, cheese forms a wholesome addition to a well-balanced diet