Cheese is made from the curd of milk, and contains the most nutritive parts of the milk in highly concentrated form. In the process of manufacture, the milk is first curdled by rennet, and the whey strained out. The curds after preliminary treatment, varying according to the style of cheese to be made, are finally pressed together very slowly in a cheese press, which is screwed down more tightly as the cheese becomes dryer. The cheeses are then covered with cheesecloth and "ripened" slowly, the ripening process giving characteristic consistency and flavor. This ripening is due to the action of bacteria and molds. (See page 97.) Foreign varieties of cheese, made originally in some one locality, have marked colors, quality, and flavors, as Brie,
Camembert, Roquefort, and the Swiss cheeses.. Parmesan is an Italian cheese, excellent with macaroni and spaghetti. American cheeses vary in color, in strength of flavor, in creaminess, and in degree of hardness. Much the greater part is, however, of the general type known as "American cheddar" or "standard factory" cheese.
Club cheese is an American cheese of good quality, put up in small jars. It is a soft cheese, excellent to serve with crackers, but is too expensive for common use.
Cottage cheese is a home product made from sour milk, and used at once.
Cheese is high in protein, and usually in fat. (See Fig. 40.) Note the small amount of water, which makes cheese a very concentrated food. The protein content makes it a meat substitute, for those with whom cheese does not disagree. Being a dense as well as concentrated form of food, it should be eaten in small quantities, and in combination with other food materials in such a way that it will become finely divided, or it will not be easily digested. The ash content is high, the most valuable of the ash constituents of the milk being retained in the cheese.
The foreign cheeses are expensive, but American cheeses may be classed among the moderate priced foods and they compare favorably with other protein foods.
Cheese costs more than beans, and less than most cuts of meat. A good American cheese costs about twenty-five cents per pound. Taking account of composition as well as cost per pound, we find that a given amount of money buys about twice as much food value when spent for cheese as it would if spent for beef. See Fig. 45.
Cheese should be kept dry and covered, that its odor may not be noticeable. Soft cheese should be kept in the ice box. The receptacle for cheese should be thoroughly sterilized before each new purchase is put away.
I. Uncooked cheese. - Serve a cream cheese with a salad of lettuce, and the imported cheeses with crackers and fruit for dessert. American cheese may be thinly sliced and used in sandwiches. A small piece of cheese with apple pie or pudding is an old-fashioned combination that is always agreeable, but sometimes difficult of digestion.