January 18, 2014

Round cheese?

I love cheese. It makes up a very large part of my diet. A couple of years ago I got in the habit of shredding it a pound at a time and keeping the shredded cheese in plastic boxes in my refrigerator, ready to use on whatever I want to eat: quesadillas, cheeseburgers, cheese toast, melted onto crackers,  augmenting pizzas, and sometimes on my breakfast eggs.

I don't actually eat a lot of meat, though I do eat some. The majority of my protein comes from cheese and eggs.

I usually keep two kinds of cheese around: sharp cheddar, and jack cheese. The Fred Meyer jack cheese was really good and that's what I was buying. But I ran out, and these days the Fred Meyer store might as well be on the moon as far as being available to me, considering how immobile I am. I cannot walk a mile there and another mile back. Not possible anymore.

So I get all my groceries delivered by Safeway. I tried a chunk of their jack cheese and it wasn't really to my taste. So this time I decided I'd try mozarella from their house brand "Lucerne". I figured it would be similar to jack, being a soft white cheese that isn't aged.

A pound of it comes in a cylinder.

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I can't figure out why it's such a strange shape. The cheddar cheese is box-shaped, which stacks neatly, but cylinders are more problematic. Is there something about how it's made that makes it better round? I know that some mozarella comes as balls, which is even less convenient. But I've also seen mozarella which are loafs, like my cheddar.

Some aged cheeses come in great big rounds, cylinders a couple of feet across. That's a side effect of the aging process. But mozarella isn't aged.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Daily Life at 05:12 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
Post contains 307 words, total size 2 kb.

1 I believethat on an industrial scale,  it's extruded onto a conveyor, cut and wrapped.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at January 18, 2014 07:41 PM (DnAJl)

2 What, you don't remember it from Gin no Saji? (Assuming they even covered it, I know the manga has cheese making bits. I know you didn't watch it, just as I haven't yet.)

Anyway, take milk, blah, blah, blah.

IIRC, and this may only apply to certain types of cheesemaking, the shape is set in a step that involves taking the material and squeezing some of the liquid out. One way, perhaps an old way, involves wrapping precursor in a cloth, and squeezing the juice out through the cloth until it is solid, or some other criteria is met. A round of cheese makes sense if you put your glob of precursor into the middle of a cylinder of cloth, and squeeze it by taking up the slack from both ends of the tube. A sphere makes sense if you squeeze it by putting the glob onto a sheet of cloth, lift up the edges and squeeze the 'tail'.

The block makes sense if one is working in large volumes, especially if one uses equipment and processes that make cutting it into blocks efficient.

Posted by: PatBuckman at January 18, 2014 07:59 PM (+LcKg)

3 So why don't they extrude a rectangle instead of a circle?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 18, 2014 08:25 PM (+rSRq)

4

Well, I just grated a pound of it. It sure tastes good. But it's really soft. It reminds me of Havarti.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 18, 2014 08:36 PM (+rSRq)

5 Growing up at The Olde Home Pond, Momzerduck and I used to make homemade pizza from component parts.  I remember quite clearly that the mozzarella was pear-shaped with a flat bottom and top.

Indeed, our kitchen legend was that the half-dollar sized top bit was the best part of the lump o' cheese and it would never make it into the bowl of grated cheese.  Instead, it'd be eaten "raw" by one of us... usually her, because I was that sort of son.

Posted by: Wonderduck at January 18, 2014 08:57 PM (eYYyy)

6 One reason I think it tasted good is because this was made from whole milk, not skim milk.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 18, 2014 09:12 PM (+rSRq)

7 I've seen some cheddar in a cylinder. Scamorza, similar to mozzarella, comes in a pear shape because it's hung to dry. Mozzarella is supposed to be kneaded like bread and then cut, so that might be why it's in a cylinder.

Posted by: muon at January 18, 2014 10:35 PM (jFJid)

8 I'm pretty sure that they shape it like that because people associate the rectangles with mass-produced, factory-made cheese, and they want people to see that shape, associate it with presumed high-quality "artisanal" cheese, and pay more for it.

I notice at my local store, irregularly-shaped store-brand bread is priced at double the same weight of a regular loaf, just because the shape reminds people of bread from a small, "Shining Hearts"-style bakery.

Posted by: jcm3 at January 19, 2014 12:37 PM (Gv6Un)

9 "Artisinal" is my new favorite word that indicates pretension. The entire concept represents a rejection of the modern world. Every time I hear or read someone using the term unironically, I know they're full of shit.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 19, 2014 02:11 PM (+rSRq)

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