‘The Cheese Dude’ shares surprising insights about cheese

Cite it to the Americans’ trend-conscious trait. The cheese industry in the US has become really big that the country is now making greater volume of cheese and more different types of it than the once world leaders in cheese-making—France and Italy.

Cheese expert and ‘The Cheese Dude’ Mark Todd explained that when things get popular in his country, they tend to do those really big. Todd gave a few examples to illustrate: there were just around 300 wineries in California when the US started getting into wine in the 1970s; now, that number has jumped to 3,800.

According to Todd, the same collective attitude made cheese manufacturing a huge industry in the US. “We got into cheese in around 1985,” he recalled. “We went from making a handful of them to thousands of them. Everything America can get into, we do it big. Cheese has exploded in the US. With about 3,500 different types of cheese we have, how do you make sense of that?”

Tech and Lifestyle Journal was privileged to be enlightened and awed by The Cheese Dude who recently headed a forum sponsored by the California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), an industry-based agency under the California Department of Food and Agriculture. We find the many insights and trivial information we learned from him worth sharing so here are some interesting and surprising facts from the cheese expert himself.

The number of cheese varieties grow exponentially every year.
“I go to a convention called the American Cheese Society every year,” said Todd. “There are lots of cheese being developed annually. The first year I went there in 1992, there were about 135 new types of cheeses from different people who developed their own cheese.”

Todd revealed that when he attended the same gathering in Denver, Colorado in July, there were 2,024 new types of cheese that were introduced. “That’s a lot of cheese! There were almost 300 cheeses on the blue cheese table alone,” he said.

 

Many cheese varieties were developed by mistake.
“Many cheeses in the world were products of accidents,” said Todd. “They were aiming for something and it didn’t go quite right. They develop a new cheese in the process. When they realize their mistake is good, they decide to do whatever they did wrong again.”

Colby, a version of mild cheddar, was created by accident. According to Todd, a Wisconsin-based cheese maker once made a slight mistake when making cheddar cheese. That resulted to a change in pH (acidity) level. “He thought he ruined the entire batch. So he raised pH, put more water, and rinsed all curd as he tried to make cheddar. It looked like cheddar but it was different,” Todd narrated.

Colby is now one of the most popular and widely used types of cheddar cheese in the market. Its big difference from regular cheddar is that it does not age no matter what. Todd explained that when cheddar reached the age of 20, its flavor gets more intense, but if Colby gets into the same age, nothing happens to it.

The older the cheddar is, the better it melts.
Todd warned against trying to make cheese sauce using Colby as doing so would only turn cheese into a rubber-like compound. To make a good cheese sauce, he recommends using aged cheddar that is at least 6 months to 8 months old, preferably a year.

Mild cheddar is the best and most appropriate for shredding. Aged mild cheddar is the most ideal to use for making a great burger, according to Todd.

 

Pasteurized processed cheese may not be cheese anymore.
A high quality pasteurized processed cheese may have up to 95% cheese and 5% vegetable oil and emulsifying sauce. Todd explained that the percentage of cheese tends to decrease as manufacturers make something out of pasteurized processed cheese. “In spreads, you may get just about 30% or less percentage of natural cheese.”

Todd also warned that cheese in aerosol cans are not real cheese as such pasteurized processed cheese types can be made of zero natural cheese.

He even revealed that the popular cheese burger sold by a giant local fastfood chain does not contain natural cheese at all. But Todd hinted that he is trying to convince that company to shift to natural cheese by considering several options available in the market.

To learn more about Real California Milk and about other dairy products, contact Reji Retugal-Onal at (+632) 534 8534/ (+632) 534 8223. California dairy products are now available in major supermarkets like S&R, Rustan’s, SM, and Robinsons Supermarket.

Share this story now!