On National Cheese Lover’s Day, I would like to tell you about my cheesy life. I was born in the Far East many years ago. Cheese was not in my diet back then and was very difficult to get. As a young child, I was bought up on soya milk and there was definitely no cheese in my diet until I moved to England. My parents avoided cheese because of the smell, so it was never in our house. Nowadays, my house is never without cheese, whether it's a solid chunk, grated parmesan, or a soft, gooey and spreadable kind.
How cheese gets its flavor and smell
The smell of the cheese that my parents disliked was the smelly “foot odor,” as they described it. Sometimes the smell and taste can be overwhelming, but one should remember that cheeses are made by adding bacteria into the milk to form the cheese and give it flavor. Depending on what the rind is washed with and how, the smell and the flavor change as it matures. As the bacteria and fungi grow and the cheese ripens, they secrete enzymes that break down the amino acids in the milk protein to produce acids, alcohols, aldehydes, amines and various sulfur compounds, while fatty acids break down into esters, methyl ketones, and secondary alcohols. The well-known ”stinky-foot” smell is from butanoic acid. Most organic acids give off distinct smells. This means that cheese development must get the balance right — more cheese than the smell of feet.
My favorite type of cheese is the molten gooey kind, but there are different types of cheese. It is the process in the recipe that determines the types of cheese. Those processes include how much to acidify the milk, how much rennet to use to set the curd, how much moisture to drive out, what additional molds/bacteria to add, and much more.
My husband prefers a soft cheese like Brie, while our friend John says “the stinkier, the better!” A famous animated character (think Wallace of “Wallace and Gromit” fame) has an addiction to Wensleydale. Are you a turophile (lover of cheese)? What is your favorite? (Comment below!)
The scientific analysis of cheese
In the ever-changing area of cheese production, there are many ways for testing, from ion chromatography to using discrete analyzers, providing a flexible and expandable solution to the challenge of in-process monitoring and quality control for cheese making.
While most lovers of cheese can eat it without a problem — some, unfortunately, cannot. People who are lactose intolerant cannot fully digest lactose. They lack enough of the enzyme lactase, which is produced in the small intestine. As a result, they typically suffer from diarrhea, gas and bloating after eating or drinking dairy products. This condition is usually harmless, but its symptoms can be very uncomfortable. There are food substitutes labeled as “lactose-free” to relieve those cravings. It is, therefore, crucial to determine the amount of lactose consumed in dairy products.