How to Buy Cheese

It is easier to know how to buy cheese if you separate the reasons for your purchase. Knowing that cheese is one of the most versatile of all foods will help guide you to wonderful and delicious ways of serving it. It can be used in simple salads, on a slice of bread, in creamy dips, fancy entrees or luscious desserts. There are types of cheese to go with everything you want to prepare.


Like I said before, how to buy cheese depends on how you plan to use it; maybe eaten plain in cubes, a slice on a sandwich, grated over a salad or cooked in favorite recipes. Almost all cheese is great to serve with crackers or small toast. There are so many cheeses to make selections from so taste as many as possible. Pay close attention to the flavors and make mental notes about what you like or dislike about them. For me, I prefer the creamy milder flavors over the stronger ones. You may be like some who prefer those strong tastes.

PESTO CHEESECAKE RECIPE

When learning how to buy cheese. Many can be used in delicious appetizer recipes.

Pesto Sauce

  • 2 Large cloves minced garlic
  • 1 ½ Cups packed chopped spinach leaves
  • ¼ Cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ Cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2/3 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 Cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ Cup olive oil

Process all ingredients except oil to make a paste; add oil and continue processing for 2 minutes.


Cheesecake

  • 1 Package (8 ounces) softened cream cheese
  • 1 Package (3 ounces) softened cream cheese
  • ¾ Cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 Cups crumbled goat cheese
  • 3 Eggs
  • ½ Cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Combine cheeses in a mixing bowl and blend well; add eggs beating after each.

Blend in sour cream and pour into a well buttered 8 ½ inch spring form pan.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until top is puffed, golden brown and firm.

Cool cheesecake completely and then remove sides of pan.

Spread pesto sauce over the top, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chips for serving with pesto cheesecake

  • ½ Cup softened butter
  • ¼ Cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Package (12 ounces) pita bread

Combine butter, Parmesan cheese and garlic.

Split pita rounds, then cut each into quarters; thinly spread butter mixture on each wedge and place on broiler pan.

Broil until golden brown.


HOW TO BUY CHEESE

Curdled milk drained of its liquid whey is the basis of all cheese. Served fresh, these curds become cottage cheese or farmers cheese. The curds can be heated to expel more of the liquid whey, packed into molds and ripened in various ways to make any of 800 different cheeses. There are different ways to put these cheeses into simple categories. They can be classified into two main types of cheese; natural and pasteurized. Natural is made directly from milk and is ripened to different degrees to develop unique character. Pasteurized processed cheese is made by grinding and blending two or more natural cheeses of different strengths. Then it is heated or pasteurized to stop the ripening and produce cheese with uniform flavor and texture. Pasteurized cheese food is softer and easier to spread; ideal for sandwiches.


When learning how to buy cheese, you can also break them down into soft cheeses and hard cheeses, but each category having a range of textures. Soft cheese can be as creamy as brie or crumbly like feta. Hard or firm cheeses can also vary a lot in texture.


It is important to know when learning how to buy cheese that they develop at different rates but all are continuously ripening and changing in character. All cheeses are also perishable and should be kept under refrigeration because cold retards development. For purchasing rare imported types of cheese which do not sell as quickly in the grocery store, it might be best to buy them from a cheese specialty shop. The staff is often more knowledgeable about the selections and caring for the cheese.


Special cheese shops usually stock their cheese in large wheels or cylinders and cut off only what is needed. This technique helps to preserve the cheese and allows you to purchase the exact amount that you need. Precut cheese has a tendency to dry out more quickly than when left whole. Ask to sample the cheese before spending the money on something which you have not tried before.


Learning how to buy cheese requires knowing how to check it for good qualities. When you ask for a sample of cheese, smell it first. Any hint of an ammonia smell means the cheese has been over aged and will be unpleasant to taste. Ask to look at the rind on the cheese. On a cheese with a soft rind like Pont l’Eveque, it should have an even color and be somewhat moist. On firm rind cheese like Emmentaler, it should be free of cracks or bulges, which indicates improper ripening.


On wax coated cheese like Gouda, you cannot see the rind. Take a sample and press on the cheese. Good Gouda and most firm cheese except ones that have been aged for a long time like Parmesan, should feel elastic. Do not buy hard (or firm) cheese which you can feel any soft spots in it... When purchasing soft cheese like brie, they should feel supple and slightly soft but not at all liquid.


When a cheese is sliced you will be able to observe the interior of the cheese. White spots within a yellow cheese are a sign of inferior quality. With the exception of blue cheeses, it should be even in color. A gray line under the line of Brie means it is old and a white line means it has not fully ripened.


SPANAKOPITA RECIPE

Learn how to buy cheese for this delicious spinach pie recipe.

  • 1 ½ to 2 Pounds fresh spinach
  • ½ Pound crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ Pound cottage cheese
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 Bunch green onions
  • 5-6 eggs
  • ¾ to 1 Pound melted butter
  • ½ Pound filo dough (Or more)

Melt a little butter in a skillet; sauté onions about 5 minutes and set aside.

Wash, chop and drain spinach thoroughly; place in a large mixing bowl.

Add to the spinach the onion, feta cheese, cottage cheese, salt and pepper.

Slowly fold the beaten eggs into the spinach mixture.

Butter a 13X9 inch baking pan; layer 7 sheets of filo dough in pan (BRUSH EACH WITH BUTTER).

Spread spinach mixture evenly over the top; top with 7 more sheets of filo dough (BRUSH EACH SHEET WITH BUTTER).

NOTE: Thoroughly brush top sheet of pita with the melted butter.

Cover pita with plastic and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 350F degrees; remove cover from pita.

With the tip of a sharp knife score the top into squares; DO NOT CUT all the way down.

Bake about 1 hour or until golden brown; cool on rack until warm (Do not cover while cooling).

Cut on scored lines in squares to serve.

NOTE: 3 packages (10 ounces each) frozen spinach can be substituted (Completely thawed and well drained).

› How to Buy Cheese

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