Sunday, March 11, 2007


Cheese is a solid food prepared from the milk of cows, goats, sheep, and other mammals. Cheese is made by curdling milk using a mixture of rennet (or rennet substitutes) and acidification. Bacteria acidify the milk and play a role in essential the texture and flavor of most cheeses. Some cheeses also feature molds, either on the outer rind or all through.
There are hundreds of types of cheese produced all over the world. Different styles and flavors of cheese are the result of using milk from various mammals or with different butterfat contents, employing particular species of bacteria and molds, and varying the length of aging and other dealing out treatments. Other factors contain animal diet and the addition of flavoring agents such as herbs, spices, or wood smoke. Whether the milk is pasteurized may also affect the flavor. The yellow to red coloring of many cheeses is a result of adding annatto. Cheeses are eaten both on their own and cooked as part of a variety of dishes; most cheeses melt when heated.
For a few cheeses, the milk is curdled by adding together acids such as vinegar or lemon juice. Most cheeses, however, are acidified to a lesser degree by bacteria, which turn milk sugars into lactic acid, followed by the addition of rennet to complete the curdling. Rennet is an enzyme mixture conventionally obtained from the stomach lining of young cattle, but now also laboratory created. Vegetarian alternatives to rennet are available; most are formed by fermentation of the fungus Mucor miehei, but others have been extracted from a variety of species of the Cynara thistle family.


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