Cheese, I think most people would agree, is one of the finer things in life! On August 1 – 4, I had the good fortune to attend the American Cheese Society’s Annual Conference in Madison, WI. Three days of eating cheese and going to cheese classes–does it get any better than that?
Held at the beautiful Frank Lloyd Wright designed Monona Terrace in Madison, WI, the conference provided the opportunity to learn many new things and eat myself (nearly) into a food coma. Since I can’t share the cheese, I at least wanted to pass along some of the information and pictures to you.
Ten Things You Always Wanted to Know About Cheese (or milk) But Never Thought to Ask
- Good quality milk has little flavor and aroma Any defects in the milk are multiplied 10 times if it is made into cheese and 20 times if used for butter; aging magnifies this even more. Sunlight (and the lights in retail displays) can damage the flavor of milk in as little as 10 minutes, via oxidation.
- Requirements (e.g. leaching) for the stainless steel that is used by dairy producers are higher than those in the pharmaceutical industry.
- Many people feel that cheese pairs even better with beer than wine.
- A cow must give birth to a calf annually to keep producing milk. Cows are typically milked for 305 days/year and the milk changes in fat and protein levels through this period, impacting the yield and flavor of cheese.
- Today the average herd size is 120-130, up from 11 in the 1960’s.
- Approximately 10 lbs of milk goes into 1 lb of cheese.
- Most early cheese production used a piece of calf stomach for coagulation but today liquid rennet is more popular. A notable exception is in the Swiss Alps where the lighter weight, dried calf stomach is still carried up the mountains to produce cheese there.
- When cheese is judged in competition the room is set to 65-68 degrees and cheese is set out early to warm to the proper temperature before tasting.
- Cottage cheese is actually 0% milk fat; the “juice” surrounding the cheese is what gives it its fat content.
- Descriptions for “off” flavors in cheese include “wet dog,” “Elmer’s glue” and “cow’s breath”
- Cheese is awesome! (But you probably already knew that)
- Fruit Filled Blueberry Buckle
- (Organic!) Homemade Campfire Marshmallows