While I was in India, I was not exposed to cheese, as it was not locally available, and only after leaving India, I got exposed to Cheese, and I love it. However I have zero knowledge about aging, natural or processed cheese. For me everything in supermarket isle is good and tasty and I mainly buy cheese like Parmesan, Mozzarella and Pepper Jack.
As a part of the Food buzz taste maker program I got $25 to sample the Sargento cheese and a processed cheese. Just like wine tasting, Sargento asked us to taste cheese. My advisor Rolf, while I was in Stockholm, Sweden used to go for wine tasting. But if ask me which wine would I like, I will say fruity, sweet white wine compared to red wine. Rolf used to say that really aged dry wine is perfect for evening dinner. Because of him, I came to know about different wine and its taste.
I thank food buzz and Sargento cheese for giving me this opportunity to test various cheeses.
Lesson 1 what is natural and processed cheese?
Natural cheese is the cheese made directly from milk. At first it is the unripe cheese, the curd, separated from the whey that forms soft cheeses like Ricotta, Paneer etc, whereas in matured or ripened cheese, the curd may be further treated by the addition of select strains of bacteria, mold, yeast or a combination of these ripening agents. The bacteria, mold and yeast continue to ripen the cheese over time, giving cheese’s flavor and texture as it ages.
When choosing natural cheese as an ingredient, it’s important to understand how a cheese will perform in a finished product based on its age and storage conditions.
Natural cheeses are often categorized according to their moisture or degree of softness or hardness. Soft cheeses include Brie, Camembert, ricotta and cottage cheese. Semisoft cheeses include blue, brick, feta, Havarti, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Muenster and provolone. Hard cheeses include Cheddar, Colby, Edam, Gouda and Swiss. Very hard cheese varieties include Parmesan and Romano.
They are made by blending one or more natural cheeses into a homogenous mass, then heating the mix and adding emulsifying salts, which modify the appearance, texture and flavor of the cheese. Process cheeses contain more moisture than natural cheeses. Pasteurized process cheeses include American cheese, cheese spreads and cheese foods. Cold-pack cheese is a blend of natural cheeses processed without heat. Flavoring and seasonings are often added.
If you want read more about cheese from here
Lesson 2: Appearance
Natural cheese, like cheddar comes in different colors and is non-glossy in their appearance. Whereas processed cheeses are shiny in their look
Lesson 3: Texture
Natural cheese varies in their texture and tends to break when you try to break them. Processed cheese on the other hand is smooth and rubbery, and often will bend and fold without breaking.
Lesson 4: Smell
Natural cheese has earthy, fruity aromatic smell. Processed cheese lacks particular aroma.
Lesson 5: Taste
Natural cheeses tend to have different array of taste from savory to fruity to spicy and sharp. Processed cheese taste more salty.
For the Cheese testing I bought 2 different types of Sargento cheese and processed cheese. I selected Sargento Pepper jack and Swiss cheese. We love pepper jack which is most commonly consumed at our home with Ritz crackers. Swiss cheese is used make sandwiches.
Day before yesterday when we visited our local grocery, in the bakery they were making fresh bread, I love the smell of warm bread. As I am not baking too much bread nowadays, I decided to buy one. So yesterday night I thought of making sandwich as our dinner. I made a baked vegetable cutlet/burger to go with it. I tried Sargento Swiss cheese in the sandwich, with veggies like cucumber, onion, tomato and red bell pepper. For my hubby I used some Dijon mustard where for little one some tomato ketchup, for me I didn’t use anything except cheese. Trust me they taste great. I will post the recipe of vegetable cutlet later.
For cheese platter I tried Swiss cheese, pepper jack and a processed cheese which is also a pepper jack along with red wine, grapes and apple.
Here is the picture of my sandwich and cheese platter.
Look, taste and smell
Swiss cheese: Creamy non –glossy, sweetish with buttery flavor
Pepper Jack: Creamy with strips of peppers, buttery flavors with strong peppery kick
Processed Cheese: Shiny, salty and less peppery kick
Verdict: Sargento wins the battle.
Opinion expressed here is entirely mine