Celebrating Fresh Cheese!
What is Fresh Cheese?
Cheese in this family is young and usually soft and velvety in texture. They are the simplest, most delicate and milky in flavour, have little to no rind and are higher in moisture.
Most of them are best eaten within a few days of production, but of course, there are always exceptions. The flavours are all very different from one another but they tend to be soft, light, milky and mellow.
They are all very simple cheeses and can be made from all types of milk. With this style, the quality of the milk is paramount to the final flavour. The milk needs to be absolutely fresh because the cheese are primarily dependent on the quality of the milk to create its character.
There are 2 categories within the fresh cheese family. The first are rindless and normally packaged in vaccum sealed tubs or bags. This keeps them from being exposed to air. The second category develops a gentle natural rind. The rind will slowly cultivate due to the wild candidum moulds and yeasts, and can sometimes have blue and black moulds. As these cheese mature, they will lose moisture and the flavours will become more concentrated.
Keeping them in your fridge is perfect. With many fresh cheese, especially goats, the rinds are very delicate. Cheese with an active rind is living and just like you and I, needs to breath. By wrapping them in plastic wrap, the cheese rind can’t breath properly and will quickly become rancid. On the opposite end, if left unwrapped, the cheese will lose moisture and dry out. The best way to store these styles is by wrapping them in baking paper or a waxy paper. Fresh cheese that has no rind can be stored in an airtight container. Cheese sold in whey, water or brine can be kept submerged in their tubs.
This family includes: Cottage cheese, cream cheese, feta, mascarpone, quark, ricotta, chevre and labne
Differences and tips to buying
Cottage cheese has the addition of cream, uses starter cultures and rennet
Look for: clean smell, pure white, no discolouration and longest shelf – life
Cream cheese has a high fat and moisture content and is generally made with starter cultures to reach a particular curd consistency, then heated to kill the cultures so that the product becomes stabilised to achieve a long shelf life, no rennet is used
Tip: try it stuffed in zucchini flowers
Feta – uses starter cultures, rennet, stirring to extract moisture, gentle pressing and then brining the cheese for flavour and storage.
Look for: clear brine, light pale colour for the cheese, can have long shelf life when stored in brine or a marinade
Tip: when buying feta from the deli counter and it’s not in brine, make your own at home by using cool boiled water from the kettle with a big pinch of salt. Make sure the cheese is fully submerged and store in an airtight container in the fridge (this is also helpful for halloumi)
Mascarpone – is rich cream that has had starter culture added to cause it to ferment. It sets overnight and is ready to use the next day
Look for: products made without the use of stabilisers, pale yellow colouring, smooth texture, short shelf life
Quark – made but using starter cultures to ferment the milk overnight. Sometimes small amounts of rennet are also added to achieve a good “set”. The curds are then drained the following day in muslin cloth until the desired texture is achieved
Look for: small producers as they tend to produce quark that exudes regional characters and flavours
Ricotta – does not use any starter cultures and instead of rennet, uses vinegar to cause the milk to coagulate once the milk is heated to a high temperature. The curd is then scooped out and drained.
Chevre – made with the use of starter cultures and rennet, this cheese takes time and patience to achieve the right texture as it drains in the hoops for an extended period of time.
Look for: clean, fresh flavours, no bucky, smelly goat aromas
Labne – essentially is strained yoghurt which removes excess whey to create a thicker consistency
Tip: Easy to make at home, use the freshest of plain yoghurt available ie with the longest shelf life
We hope you have enjoyed learning more about Fresh Cheese with us – for more information and to follow our story – check out our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest.
Until next month,