Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Emmental (cheese)

Emmental, Emmentaler, Emmenthal, or Emmenthaler is a cheese from Switzerland. It is sometimes known as Swiss cheese in North America, Australia and New Zealand, although Swiss cheese does not always imply Emmental.

The cheese originally comes from the Emme valley in the canton of Bern. Unlike some other cheese varieties, the denomination "Emmental" was not protected ("Emmentaler Switzerland" is, though). Hence, Emmental of other origin, especially from France and Bavaria, is widely available. Even Finland is an exporter of Emmental cheese.

Emmental is a yellow, medium-hard cheese, with characteristic large holes. It has a piquant, but not really sharp taste. Three types of bacteria are used in the production of Emmental: Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus, and Propionibacter shermani. In the late stage of cheese production, P. shermani consumes the lactic acid excreted by the other bacteria, and releases carbon dioxide gas, which slowly forms the bubbles that make holes.
* Emmentaler Switzerland AOC is registered since 2006 as an AOC (Appellation d'origine contrôlée). This “original Emmentaler” has to be aged for a minimum of 4 months. It is produced in a round shape with a natural rind and aged in traditional cellars. The original Emmentaler exists with different age profiles, classic 4 month, reserve 8 month, Premier Cru 14 month. It is produced with raw cow milk adding only natural ingredients (water, salt, natural starters and rennet). Preservatives or ingredients from GMO modified organism are not allowed. Emmental AOC is still produced in small rural dairies.

* Emmentaler Switzerland Premier Cru is a special Emmental aged for 14 months in humid caves. It was the first cheese from Switzerland to win the title World Champion at the Wisconsin (USA) Cheese World Championships in 2006. It was nominated best cheese among over 1,700 competitors. For this achievement it has received a place in the Historic Museum in Bern Switzerland.

It is noteworthy that "Swiss Cheese" not made in Switzerland typically tastes considerably different, primarily because the raw milk to make the cheese should not be transported over long distances, as the vibrations homogenize the milk, and thereby change the outcome.

It features prominently in the cuisine of the United States where it is a standard cheese for use in the preparation of sandwiches.

In cooking, it is often put on top of gratins, dishes which are then put in the oven to let the cheese melt and become golden-brown and crusty. It is also used for fondue in which case it is blended with Gruyere cheese.


Mozzarella is a generic term for several kinds of originally Italian cheeses that are made using spinning and then cutting (hence the name; the Italian verb mozzare means "to cut"):

* Mozzarella di Bufala (buffalo mozzarella), made from domesticated water buffalo milk
* mozzarella fior di latte, made from fresh pasteurized or unpasteurized cow's milk
* low-moisture mozzarella, which is made from whole or part skim milk, and widely used in the foodservice industry
* smoked mozzarella

Fresh mozzarella is generally white, but may vary seasonally to slightly yellow depending on the animal's diet.[2] It is a semi-soft cheese. Due to its high moisture content, it is traditionally served the day it is made[3], but can be kept in brine for up to a week[4], or longer when sold in vacuum-sealed packages. Low-moisture mozzarella can keep refrigerated for up to a month[5], though some pre-shredded low-moisture mozzerella is sold with a shelf life of up to 6 months.[6] Mozzarella of several kinds are also used for most types of pizza, lasagna, or served with sliced tomatoes and basil in Insalata caprese.

The mozzarella from bufala campana (DOP 1996) is a particular type of mozzarella; some consider it the best for flavour or quality and it is protected by European DOP. It is a raw material in Italian style neapolitan Pizza - rather than mozzarella made with pasteurized cow's milk.

Mozzarella is available fresh; it is usually rolled in the shape of a ball of 80 to 100 grams (6 cm diameter), sometimes up to 1 kilogram (about 12 cm diameter), and soaked in salt water or whey, sometimes with added citric acid, until sold.

Fior di latte (written also as fiordilatte) is used to distinguish the mozzarella made from cow's milk from that made from buffalo's milk.

When slightly desiccated (partially dried), the structure becomes more compact; then it is better used to prepare dishes cooked in the oven, for example lasagne.

When twisted to form a plait it is called treccia.

It is also available in smoked (called affumicata) and reduced-moisture packaged varieties.

The production of mozzarella involves the mixture of curd with heated whey, followed by stretching and kneading to produce a delicate consistency -- this process is generally known as pasta filata. According to the Mozzarella di Bufala trade association, "The cheesemaker kneads it with his hands, like a baker making bread, until he obtains a smooth, shiny paste, a strand of which he pulls out and lops off, forming the individual mozzarella." [7] It is then typically formed into ball shapes or in plait. In Italy, a "rubbery" consistency is generally considered not satisfactory; the cheese is expected to be softer.

It has been said that the name "mozzarella", which is clearly derived from southern Italian dialects, was the diminutive form of mozza (cut), or mozzare (to cut off) derived from the method of working. Other theories describe its origins as a minor preparation of "scamozza" (Scamorza cheese), which in its turn probably derives from "scamozzata" ("without a shirt"), with allusion to the fact that these cheeses have no hard surface covering typical of a dry cured cheese.

The term mozzarella is first found definitively mentioned in 1570, cited in a cookbook by Bartolomeo Scappi, reading "…milk cream, fresh butter, ricotta cheese, fresh mozzarella and milk…"

Cheese curds

Cheese curds are the fresh curds of cheese, often cheddar. They are generally available in retail stores operated at cheese factories throughout the countries of Canada and the United States (especially in USA's Upstate New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Canada's provinces of Ontario, and Quebec, where they can be found in many grocery stores. ) Cheese curds are little-known in locations without cheese factories, because they should ideally be eaten within hours of manufacture.

Their flavor is mild with about the same firmness as cheese, but has a springy or rubbery texture. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, which some would say is their defining characteristic. Cheese curds are sometimes referred to as "Squeaky cheese." They are sometimes somewhat salty. The American variety are usually yellow or orange in color, like most American cheddar cheese. Other varieties, such as the Québécois and New York variety, can be roughly the same color as white cheddar cheese.
After twelve hours, even under refrigeration, they have lost much of their "fresh" characteristics, particularly the "squeak". This "squeak" has been described by the New York Times as sounding like "balloons trying to neck".[1] After twenty-four hours, they will lose their freshness entirely. If they are purchased locally and need to be kept for a couple of days, room temperature, rather than refrigeration, may preserve the flavor and "squeak".
n Wisconsin, Minnesota, Upper Michigan, South Dakota, Northern Illinois, and Iowa, deep-fried cheese curds are often found at carnivals and fairs, and often local non-chain fast food restaurants and bars. Deep-fried cheese curds are covered with a batter, like that used for onion rings, or are breaded and placed in a deep fryer. In the United States, A&W Restaurants and Culver's have added fried cheese curds to their menus and they are available nationwide.
Cheese curds are a main ingredient in poutine, a dish in which cheese curds are served layered on top of french fries, and melting under steaming hot gravy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

How to Relieve Bloating With Food

Try fresh pineapple. Fresh pineapple contains bromelain and this is a digestion-promoting enzyme.
Try fresh papaya. This also contains bromelain and it is great for breaking down food and digesting proteins.
Munch on celery. Celery helps to relieve fluid retention because it is a diuretic. Try a handful each day until your bloating is under better control.
Choose asparagus. Asparagus encourages the growth of friendly gut bacteria. Friendly bacteria work to reduce the build-up of stomach gas.
Add yogurt to your daily diet. Yogurt brings helpful bacteria to your gut.
Season your food with freshly ground black pepper. Black pepper aids digestion and massaging the essential oil of black pepper on your stomach region can also help.
Drink peppermint tea. Peppermint tea aids digesting by helping food pass through the stomach quickly. It also calms flatulence. Either pre-packaged peppermint tea in bags or fresh mint leaves will work.

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Parmigiano-Reggiano is a hard, fat granular cheese, cooked but not pressed, named after the producing areas of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, in Emilia-Romagna, and Mantova, in Lombardy, Italy.

Parmigiano is simply the Italian adjective for Parma; the French version, Parmesan, is used in the English language. The term Parmesan is also loosely used as a common term for cheeses imitating true Parmesan cheese, especially outside Europe; within Europe, the Parmesan name is classified as a protected designation of origin.
Parmigiano-Reggiano is made from raw cow's milk. The whole milk of the morning milking is mixed with the naturally skimmed milk (it is left in large shallow tanks to allow the cream to separate) of the previous evening's milking, resulting in a part skim mixture. The milk is pumped into copper-lined vats (copper heats and cools quickly). Starter whey is added, and the temperature is raised to 33-35C. Calf rennet is added, and the mixture is left to curdle for 10-12 minutes. The curd is then broken up mechanically (spinitura in Italian) into small pieces (around the size of rice grains). The temperature is then raised to 55 °C with careful control by the cheese-maker. The curd is left to settle for 45-60 minutes. The compacted curd is collected in a piece of muslin before being divided in two and placed in moulds. There are 1100 L of milk per vat, producing two cheeses each. The curd making up each wheel at this point weighs around 45 kg (100 lb). The remaining whey in the vat was traditionally used to feed the pigs from which "Prosciutto di Parma" (cured Parma ham) is produced. The barns for these animals were usually just a few yards away from the cheese production rooms.

The cheese is put into a stainless steel round form that is pulled tight with a spring powered buckle so the cheese retains its wheel shape. After a day or two, the buckle is released and a plastic belt imprinted numerous times with the Parmigiano-Reggiano name, the plant's number, and month and year of production is put around the cheese and the metal form is buckled tight again. The imprints take hold on the rind of the cheese in about a day and the wheel is then put into a brine bath to absorb salt for 20-25 days. After brining, the wheels are then transferred to the aging rooms in the plant for 12 months. Each cheese is placed on wooden shelves that can be 24 cheeses high by 90 cheeses long or about 4,000 total wheels per aisle. Each cheese and the shelf underneath it is then cleaned manually or robotically every 7 days. The cheese is also turned at this time.
A factory of Parmigiano-Reggiano. There are two storerooms, both with 20 of these shelves.

At 12 months, the Consorzio Parmigiano-Reggiano inspects each and every cheese. The cheese is tested by a master grader whose only instruments are a hammer and his ear. By tapping the wheel at various points, he can identify undesirable cracks and voids within the wheel. Those cheeses that pass the test are then heat branded on the rind with the Consorzio's logo; those that don't used to have their rinds remarked with lines or crosses all the way around so consumers know they are not getting top-quality Parmigiano-Reggiano but are now simply stripped of all markings.

Traditionally, cows have to be fed only on grass or hay, producing grass fed milk. Only natural whey culture is allowed as a starter, together with calf rennet.[1]

The only additive allowed is salt, which the cheese absorbs while being submerged for 20 days in brine tanks saturated to near total salinity with Mediterranean sea salt. The product is aged an average of two years. The cheese is produced daily, and it can show a natural variability. True Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese has a sharp, complex fruity/nutty taste and a slightly gritty texture. Inferior versions can impart a bitter taste.

The average Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel is about 18-24 cm (7 to 9 inches) high, 40-45 cm (16 to 18 inches) in diameter, and weighs an average of 38 kg (80 pounds).

Uses of the cheese include being grated with a grater over pasta, stirred into soup and risotto, and eaten in chunks with balsamic vinegar. It is also a key ingredient in alfredo sauce and pesto.

Parmigiano cheese is considerably harder the farther it gets from its center and very hard near the crust; however it's exactly from this harder portions that the best grated cheese is obtained: a fine whiter dust which is more aromatic and tasty than the grating resulting from softer sections.

One traditional use of a whole Parmigiano head is to use it as a serving pot. Once the head is used up and thoroughly hollowed out so that the bare crust remains, steaming pasta is poured in it and served from therein.

[edit] History
Parmesan cheese being taste tested at a festival in Modena with balsamic vinegar drizzled on top.

According to legend, the Parmigiano was created in the course of the Middle Ages in Bibbiano, in the province of Reggio Emilia. Its production soon spread to the Parma and Modena areas. Historical documents show that in the 13th-14th century Parmigiano was already very similar to that produced today; this suggests that its origins can be traced far before.

In the memoirs of Giacomo Casanova, he remarked that the name "Parmesan" was a misnomer in his time (mid-18th century) as the cheese was produced in the town of Lodi, not Parma. This comment originates probably from the fact that a grana cheese very similar to the "Parmigiano", the Grana Padano, is produced in the Lodi area.

It was praised as early as 1348 in the writings of Boccaccio; in the Decameron, he speaks of a mountain made completely of Parmigiano to accompany macaroni and ravioli.

Samuel Pepys is reputed to have buried his Parmigiano during the Great Fire of London of 1666 to preserve it.

[edit] Use of the Name Parmigiano-Reggiano
Parmigiano-Reggiano festival in Modena; each wheel (block of cheese) costs 490 euro.

In the European Union, "Parmesan" is a protected designation of origin; legally, it refers exclusively to the Parmigiano-Reggiano DOP cheese manufactured in a limited area in Northern Italy. Outside Europe, most notably in the United States, similar cheeses may be sold under the name Parmesan, considered generic. When they are sold in Europe, they must use another name, such as Kraft's "pamesello italiano".[2]

The name is trademarked, and in Italy there is a legal exclusive control exercised over its production and sales by the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese Consorzio, which was created by a governmental decree. There are strict criteria each wheel must meet early in the aging process, when the cheese is still soft and creamy, to merit the official seal and be placed in storage for aging. Parmigiano-Reggiano has become an increasingly regulated product; in 1955 it became what is known as a certified name (not a brand name).

Outside Europe, the name "Parmesan" is treated as generic. The European Union campaigns against the use of protected European food labels by producers outside the designated region of origin, which might eventually lead to dropping the word "Parmesan" from cheese products originating outside the designated production region of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Other Cheeses Sold as Parmesan
An American version of pre-grated Parmesan.

The Grana Padano is an Italian cheese very similar to the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Differences are:

* It is produced mainly in Lombardy - the name Padano derives from the Pianura Padana
* Cows can also be fed silage, not grass and hay only
* The milk contains slightly less fat
* Milk of several days can be used
* It is aged for up to 20 months

Commercial Parmesan cheeses common in North America typically differ from Parmigiano-Reggiano in several ways:

* The cheese is aged for a shorter time
* The curds for Parmigiano-Reggiano are cut into fragments the size of wheat grains, which is much finer than the fragments created in the manufacture of the American version of Parmesan. The smaller curds drain more effectively;
* American Parmesan is mechanically pressed in order to expel excess moisture.
* Parmesan wheels in the United States average 11 kg (24 pounds). The size difference can affect their salt saturation during the brining process; Parmigiano-Reggiano on average contains two-thirds less salt than the average Parmesan.
* It is often sold grated.
* There is no outside body regulating or supervising the quality of the raw ingredients or of the production process.

[edit] Parmigiano Aroma and Chemical Components

Parmigiano has many aroma-active compounds, including various aldehydes and butyrates. Butyric acid and isovaleric acid together are sometimes used to imitate the dominant aromas.

Parmigiano is also particularly high in glutamates, containing as much as 1200 mg of glutamate per 100 g of cheese, making it the naturally produced food with the second highest level of glutamate, after Roquefort cheese. The strong presence of glutamates explains the strong umami taste of Parmigiano, and the fact of being present in so many dishes of the Italian cuisine helps explaining why Italian food is so much liked by umami-loving easterners and why so many Italians like Chinese and Japanese dishes heavy in umami flavours