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VIEWS: “American Cheese”

If you’re serving a cheese course on Thanksgiving, we hope it’s American cheese. Some of the greatest cheese artisans in the world work right here in the U.S.A.—and they’ve been earning top awards at world cheese competitions (see details in the Cheese Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine). It would be un-American to bring a Roquefort or a British Cheddar to the table on our day of national thanksgiving. Instead, bring one of the incredible blues from Rogue River Creamery or Point Reyes Farmstead, a great goat cheese from Cypress Grove Chèvre, a Fiscalini Cheddar from California—or any one of a thousand fine American cheeses (there were more than 1,200 at this year’s American Cheese Society competition). If you’d like to send someone a gift basket of American cheeses, MurraysCheese.com has several selections—but call or click over today in time for overnight delivery tomorrow.   Murray’s Cheese
The “Pioneer Picks” gift basket from MurraysCheese.com. All-American cheeses and goodies to go with them (honey, nuts and
crackers).
As far as that product known as “American Cheese,” we’d like to have the name changed because it defames everything thing that is great about American cheeses; but it has a patent as well as a standard under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Want to know what “American cheese” is? “Pasteurized processed American cheese” (it can be called processed or process cheese) is made of scraps of Cheddar or Colby that otherwise would be unsalable (it can also be made of cheese curd and granular cheese). Processing forms them into new presentable shapes, adding emulsifiers so they will melt smoothly. That’s why American cheese is so popular on hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese omelets—it does not separate or not run off (nor does it provide much flavor). There are other types of processed cheese, including prominent brands like Laughing Cow, which originated in Europe. Processed cheese often contains as little as 51% cheese; Velveeta, which cannot be called cheese but “cheese food,” contains even less. Processed cheese was invented in 1911 by Walter Gerber in Switzerland, but James L. Kraft of Chicago first applied for an American patent for his improved method in 1916. Kraft Foods introduced the first sliced process cheese to stores in 1950. The rest is history. Hmm.





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