Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Fromage fictions: the 14 biggest cheese myths – debunked!


liuzhou
 Share

Recommended Posts

Quote

Myth: You can cook with cheap cheese

 

You can't cook with cheap cheese- in America.  I can't speak for Europe, but, cheap British cheese is basically the equivalent of mid range American cheese, and it will make phenomenal mac and cheese.  I would add that, as you start spending more on English cheese, the potential for funk and intensity grows exponentially.  Obviously, there's personal preference here, but, while I might enjoy an old farmhouse cheddar on crackers, it's too much for cooking, imo.

 

Quote

Myth: The older, the better

 

Amen to this.  You couldn't pay me to work with Stravecchio. I don't really talk about this much, because I don't want to see the price of Grana go up, but, side by side, Grana beats the pants off of Reggiano. For me, 9 months is much more of a sweet spot than 24. 

 

Quote

Myth: Wrap in clingfilm or keep in an airtight container


This is entirely cheese dependent- and how long you plan on storing the cheese for.  For instance, once I open a package of cheddar, it's not around for more than a week.  Cheddar is perfectly fine in an airtight plastic bag for a week.  Now, I store pecorino for months- if not years- in a glass jar with a rubber seal. I don't completely understand the chemistry of pecorino, but it has never grown mold.  Grana and reggiano have occasionally grown a little mold over extended periods, but, since I've started being aware of hygiene when handling cheese (by using gloves), my track record has been excellent.  Try storing reggiano in wax paper for a  couple month- it'll be as hard as a rock.

 

Quote

Myth: If it goes mouldy, it’s bad


For harder cheese, sure, but, if you see any mold on a soft cheese, it's done.  Mozzarella is toast, as is Swiss.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On airtight - in a proper environment let the living thing breathe if it is worthy of breathing. Age - well my ex thinking more expensive is better always... ordered very expensive older cheddars for me to assemble in gift bags along with crackers, baguettes and wine for client gifts. I tasted. Not everyone's first choice with the intensity and salt crystals.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, scott123 said:

 

Quote

Myth: If it goes mouldy, it’s bad


For harder cheese, sure, but, if you see any mold on a soft cheese, it's done.  Mozzarella is toast, as is Swiss


I know quite some „soft“ cheeses that have mold. Mozzarella will likely go sour before any mold will appear, and I have no idea what characterizes Swiss …

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Duvel said:


I know quite some „soft“ cheeses that have mold. Mozzarella will likely go sour before any mold will appear, and I have no idea what characterizes Swiss …

I'm not talking about the kinds of intentional outer molds on cheeses like Brie and Camembert. I'm referring to either non-moldy cheeses- or the exposed insides of moldy cheeses.  If, for instance, you cut into a wheel of Brie, put it back in the fridge, and, a few days later, see mold in the form of discoloration, you can't cut it away like you would a hard cheese.

Swiss is Gruyère and Emmental (and other similar cheeses).  Gruyère and Emmental are the cutoff for hardness and mold. Anything harder, you might be able to cut away discoloration, but, that level of moisture or more, mold/discoloration is the kiss of death.

And, yes, fresh mozzarella can go sour/degrade without discoloration, but the mozzarella I was referring to is aged mozzarella.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a live product, cheese has a continuum of characteristics.    Appreciation is an extremely personal judgment re milk source, age, wine pairing, etc..

IMHO other than pedantic imperative, the only rule is to eat cheese you like how you like it.   Our MO is to remove cheese hours before you plan to serve it.    For a dinner party, i will set up the cheese platter immediately after breakfast.   Cold cheese is a diva without her makeup.

 

  • Like 3

eGullet member #80.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, scott123 said:

Swiss is Gruyère and Emmental (and other similar cheeses).  Gruyère and Emmental are the cutoff for hardness and mold. Anything harder, you might be able to cut away discoloration, but, that level of moisture or more, mold/discoloration is the kiss of death.


Well noted the definition of Swiss cheese, though personally I feel that beside the geographical origin from my point of view Gruyere and Emmental have few similarities, neither in preparation not in characteristics. I do not subscribe to the statement that a mouldy piece of either has to be discarded. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, scott123 said:

I'm not talking about the kinds of intentional outer molds on cheeses like Brie and Camembert. I'm referring to either non-moldy cheeses- or the exposed insides of moldy cheeses.  If, for instance, you cut into a wheel of Brie, put it back in the fridge, and, a few days later, see mold in the form of discoloration, you can't cut it away like you would a hard cheese.


I wish I could show you a picture from my favourite cheese monger in nearby Strasbourg … even not intentional, all soft cheeses will get moldy over time. Whether you find that palatable - as @Margaret Pilgrim has pointed out - is your personal preference, but you won’t succumb to a horrible death by eating it. Especially if made from raw milk …

 

And no, you don’t cut it away as you would on a hard cheese. You scrape it off.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

32 minutes ago, Duvel said:

Well noted the definition of Swiss cheese, though personally I feel that beside the geographical origin from my point of view Gruyere and Emmental have few similarities, neither in preparation not in characteristics.


Is my North American definition of Swiss cheese wrong, or merely different?  ;)

 

Quote

Whether you find that palatable - as @Margaret Pilgrim has pointed out - is your personal preference, but you won’t succumb to a horrible death by eating it. Especially if made from raw milk …


I haven't died from moldy cheese, but I have gotten ill.  Listeria is a thing.  You'd probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than contracting listeria, but, consuming soft raw milk cheese that's unintentionally moldy will increase the risk.

FWIW, though, I think we all agree that the article is painting with some very broad strokes, and, as Mark Twain aptly put it, "All generalizations are false, even this one."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, scott123 said:

Is my North American definition of Swiss cheese wrong, or merely different?

Here. .  

  • Thanks 1

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, scott123 said:

I haven't died from moldy cheese, but I have gotten ill.  Listeria is a thing.  You'd probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than contracting listeria, but, consuming soft raw milk cheese that's unintentionally moldy will increase the risk.


These are two animals: listeriosis is caused by a bacterium, while mold is a fungal product. If one comes to the conclusion that the mold is caused by improper („unhygienic“) storage, a superinfection by harmful bacteria could be present, yet is not a causal result of the developed mold.

 

And contrary to popular opinion (and to that of the EU), properly produced raw milk cheeses actually carry a smaller risk of harmful bacteria than industrial cheese. The process (and inherently production conditions and equipment) will encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria that will compete and outgrow the harmful ones, even in a „finished“ product like a soft cheese.

Edited by Duvel (log)
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

As a live product, cheese has a continuum of characteristics.    Appreciation is an extremely personal judgment re milk source, age, wine pairing, etc..

IMHO other than pedantic imperative, the only rule is to eat cheese you like how you like it.   Our MO is to remove cheese hours before you plan to serve it.    For a dinner party, i will set up the cheese platter immediately after breakfast.   Cold cheese is a diva without her makeup.

 

Agreed, but with a caveat for the inexperienced host: Take into account your climate, the temperature of the room, whether or not the cheese will be in the sun's path while you are ignoring it and the ripeness of the cheese the day you want to eat it. Some hard salty cheeses get oily and unpleasant if too warm. Some soft cheeses can turn into puddles of unspreadability. You, @Margaret Pilgrim, of course, without even thinking, probably make these adjustments, but some may not.. I have a SIL who reliably serves brie straight from the fridge! What a waste!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Myth: You can cook with cheap cheese"

 

American here.  I appreciate good cheese and go out of my way to get the good stuff.  But I use cheap cheese (deli American and even the dreaded Velveeta) in small amounts to stabilize a cheese sauce for things like mac and cheese and broccoli cheese soup.  The flavor of a good Cheddar is wonderful in these kinds of things, but when I try to use my 3 years Cheddar in them, the sauce breaks.  

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

30 minutes ago, Anna N said:

Here. .  


Thanks, that helps a lot - it is an Emmentaler derivative rather than a geographical description. I got a bit puzzled by aligning Emmentaler and Gruyere in my head; in the classic (Swiss) cheese fondue, both are used in different proportions to tailor the resulting fondue in terms of taste, viscosity, … because there are distinctively different (as is Appenzeller, the last of the „big three“). So I am happy to learn the „US Swiss“ only refers to one of them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

51 minutes ago, Duvel said:


These are two animals: listeriosis is caused by a bacterium, while mold is a fungal product. If one comes to the conclusion that the mold is caused by improper („unhygienic“) storage, a superinfection by harmful bacteria could be present, yet is not a causal result of the developed mold.

 

And contrary to popular opinion (and to that of the EU), properly produced raw milk cheeses actually carry a smaller risk of harmful bacteria than industrial cheese. The process (and inherently production conditions and equipment) will encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria that will compete and outgrow the harmful ones, even in a „finished“ product like a soft cheese.

Can we cue the Cheese Nun - Mother Noella  She has a good TED talk too

 

Edited by heidih (log)
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Duvel said:


Thanks, that helps a lot - it is an Emmentaler derivative rather than a geographical description. I got a bit puzzled by aligning Emmentaler and Gruyere in my head; in the classic (Swiss) cheese fondue, both are used in different proportions to tailor the resulting fondue in terms of taste, viscosity, … because there are distinctively different (as is Appenzeller, the last of the „big three“). So I am happy to learn the „US Swiss“ only refers to one of them.

I actually learned a lot myself. And I haven’t thought about Appenzeller in ages and I do like it so thank you.
 

 

  • Like 1

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/8/2021 at 2:26 PM, Duvel said:


These are two animals: listeriosis is caused by a bacterium, while mold is a fungal product. If one comes to the conclusion that the mold is caused by improper („unhygienic“) storage, a superinfection by harmful bacteria could be present, yet is not a causal result of the developed mold.

 

And contrary to popular opinion (and to that of the EU), properly produced raw milk cheeses actually carry a smaller risk of harmful bacteria than industrial cheese. The process (and inherently production conditions and equipment) will encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria that will compete and outgrow the harmful ones, even in a „finished“ product like a soft cheese.

 

I used to make French alpine cheeses - Abondance, tommes, reblochons, all from raw milk.  In my opinion listeriosis is a process issue; it comes from poor plant management and once it takes hold in a creamery it's extremely difficult to obliterate.   I have an acquaintance from a long time ago now who specialized in soft cheeses made from raw milk.  Tragically, listeriosis from his cheese killed two people.  As much as I'm a booster for raw milk cheeses, I'm no longer sanguine about its use in soft cheeses, particularly when listeria can survive just about anything, including cold storage.  Only used raw Ayrshire for my hard aged cheeses.

 

I agree with you on your emphasis of proper ecology over sterilization - we spend too much time trying to sterilize, over creating environments propitious for the good flora we're looking for, who can outcompete pathogens as you say.  Many years ago an upstate NY FDA inspector got it in her mind wood shelving is anathema to healthy cheese, and mounted a war to force creameries to move to ss shelving.  I and 1000's of others wrote our reps on the flawed science in such a perspective, our own Center for Dairy Research vigorously defended the science of wooden board safety and thankfully the FDA backed off. Good article here.

 

 

beaufort cheese image.jpg

paul rubbing abondance 2.JPG

PICT0001 (640x480).jpg

tranche_cailler.jpg

PICT0009.JPG

  • Like 2

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 12/8/2021 at 3:30 PM, heidih said:

ops it was not a TED talk it was a Hsrvard cooking series lecture  

 

 

She's awesome.  Got her PhD in microbiology while a cloistered nun.  Her work on rind cascade ecology and other related areas was something I leaned on heavily when putting together my hard alpine cheeses.  Nun after my own heart - scraping caves all over France to map the strains of Geo. candidum and their properties. Great DVD, The Cheese Nun.

  • Like 2

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think a listeria outbreak put one of my favorites cheese producers out of business this year.  I loved Cahill's Irish Porter cheese, but they had a recall for listeria early this year.

 

I searched just now and saw they are in "liquidation".    

Edited by lemniscate (log)
  • Sad 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, lemniscate said:

I think a listeria outbreak put one of my favorites cheese producers out of business this year.  I loved Cahill's Irish Porter cheese, but they had a recall for listeria early this year.

 

I searched just now and saw they are in "liquidation".    

 

See the Estrella Family Creamery story.  These were consistent gold medal winners at the Dublin World Cheese Awards, but they showed positive for Listeria outbreaks on multiple occasions.  Again, process flaws, and in my opinion they didn't learn from their first outbreak.  I do believe in raw milk and I do believe it's tough for artisan producers, such as in my state, to make any headway when there is a heavy concentration of large agribusiness interests who have the ear of the FDA and related agencies.  That said there's no excuse for something like listeria, and the FDA was right to pursue them aggressively.

 

It's an incredible responsibility to feed people.  Listeria is one of those things that should be priority one in daily sanitation protocols.

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...