One of America’s Favorites – American Cheese

October 7, 2013 at 9:25 AM | Posted in cheese, One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Wrapped slices of American processed cheese

Wrapped slices of American processed cheese

 

American cheese is a processed cheese. It is orange, yellow, or white in color and mild in flavor, with a medium-firm consistency, and melts easily. American cheese was originally only white, but is often now modified to yellow. In the past, it was made from a blend of cheeses, most often Colby and Cheddar. Today’s American cheese is generally no longer made from blended cheeses, but instead is manufactured from a set of ingredients such as milk, whey, milkfat, milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate, and salt. In the United States, it may not be legally sold as “cheese”, and must be labeled as “processed cheese”, “cheese product”, or similar—e.g., “cheese food”. At times even the word “cheese” is missing in the name on the label, e.g. “American slices” or “American singles“. In Canada, exactly the same product, often by the same manufacturer with the same label design, used to be sold as “Canadian cheese” or “Canadian slices”. Today, most such product in Canada is vaguely labelled just “slices” or “singles”. In the United Kingdom, packs are labelled as “singles”, although it is commonly called cheese slices.
The marketing label “American Cheese” for processed cheese combined with the prevalence of processed cheese in the U.S compared to the rest of the world has led to the term American cheese being used in the U.S. synonymously in place of processed cheese in America. The term “American cheese” has a legal definition as a type of pasteurized processed cheese under the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.
American cheese is used in American cuisine, for example on cheeseburgers, in grilled cheese sandwiches, and in macaroni and cheese.

 

 

British colonists made cheddar soon upon their arrival in America. By 1790, American cheddars were being exported back to England. The British referred to American cheddar as “American cheese”, or “Yankee cheese”, and post-Revolution Americans promoted this usage to distinguish their product from European cheese. For example, an 1878 newspaper article in The New York Times lists the total export of American cheese at 355 million pounds per year, with an expected growth to 1,420 million pounds.
After the invention of processed cheese in 1911, and its popularization by James L. Kraft in the late 1910s and 1920s, the term “American cheese” rapidly began to refer to this variety rather than to American cheddar. The latter had already begun to be produced on an industrial scale in the 1890s, leading to the term “factory cheese”. And in the 1920s another slang term arose for the still-popular cheese: “rattrap cheese”, or “rat cheese”.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines American cheese as a “cheese of cheddar type, made in the U.S.” and lists 1804 as the first known usage of “American cheese”, occurring in the Frankfort, Kentucky newspaper Guardian of Freedom. The next usage given is in 1860 by Charles Dickens in his series The Noncommercial Traversal.

 

 

Even though the term “American cheese” has a legal definition in the United States as a type of pasteurized processed cheese, products called “American cheese” are by no means identical. Depending on the additives and the amounts of milk fat and water added to the cheese during emulsification, the taste and texture of American cheese varies, with some varieties (e.g. “American cheese” and “American processed cheese”) being very similar to non-processed cheese and other varieties (e.g. “American cheese food” and “American cheese product”) being more like Velveeta or Cheez Whiz.
The taste and texture of different varieties of American cheese vary considerably, and mostly depend on the percentage of cheese versus additives used during emulsification. Varieties with lower percentages of additives tend to taste more like unprocessed cheese. Depending on the food manufacturer, the color of the cheese (orange, yellow, or white) may indicate different ingredients or processes. Some manufacturers reserve the white and yellow colors for their less processed (i.e. fewer additives) American cheese varieties. In other cases, the ingredients for white and orange colors are the same, except for the coloring.
The processed variety of American cheese is sold in three basic packaging varieties: individually wrapped cheese slices (which technically are not slices, sliced off a block of cheese, but rather slabs of processed cheese which are formed from a viscous processed cheese which only solidifies between the wrapping medium), small pre-sliced blocks of 8 to 36 slices, and large blocks meant for deli counters. The individually wrapped cheese slices are typically the least like unprocessed cheese. Small (e.g., 8- to 36-slice) blocks of pre-sliced, but not individually wrapped American cheese are also marketed, often with the branding “deluxe” or “old-fashioned”. This variety of American cheese is similar in ingredients and texture to that of modern block American cheese. Before the advent of the individually wrapped variety, this was the typical variety that Americans purchased. Hence, some people refer to this as “classic” or “traditional” American cheese.

 

 

This is a list of cheeses typical of the United States. The list excludes specific brand names, unless a brand name is also a distinct variety of cheese. Many additional European-type cheeses are also made in the United States, such as Brie, Cheddar, Gouda, mozzarella and provolone. Also, many local dairies throughout the country produce artisan cheeses and other more localized flavors. (Note that the term “American cheese” is also used to refer to the technology of processed cheese). Many American cheese varieties are related to European cheeses, with slightly different recipes, and with European-sounding names, such as Swiss cheese, which is not normally found or produced in Switzerland. Almost half of the cheese produced in the United States comes from Wisconsin and California.

 

 

List of American cheeses

Bergenost cheese

Bergenost cheese

* Bergenost
* Brick cheese
* Caprizella, goat cheese, made in Washington State
* Cheese curds, also common in Canada
* Colby cheese
* Colby-Jack cheese
* Cougar Gold cheese
* Cream cheese
* Creole cream cheese
* Cup Cheese
* Farmer cheese
* Hoop cheese, drier version of farmer cheese
* Humboldt Fog, made in California
* Kunik cheese
* Liederkranz cheese
* Maytag Blue cheese, brand name which is also a distinct variety of cheese
* Monterey Jack
* Pepper jack cheese, variety of Monterey Jack
* Muenster cheese
* Pinconning cheese, an aged variety of Colby
* Red Hawk cheese, a triple-crème cow’s milk cheese with a brine washed rind, made in California
* String cheese, the particular American variety of Mozzarella with a stringy texture
* Swiss cheese
* Teleme cheese

A package of brick cheese

A package of brick cheese

Processed cheeses

* American cheese, a processed cheese food, not technically a cheese
* Government cheese, variety of processed cheese food
* Provel cheese
* Velveeta, brand name for a softer style of processed cheese than American cheese

 

 

Fall Harvest: Cranberries

September 30, 2013 at 9:10 AM | Posted in fruits | 2 Comments
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Cranberries, native to North America, and are harvested in New England and the Upper Midwest in the fall.

 

 

Cranberry bush with fruit partially submerged

Cranberry bush with fruit partially submerged

Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines in the subgenus Oxycoccus of the genus Vaccinium. In some methods of classification, Oxycoccus is regarded as a genus in its own right. They can be found in acidic bogs throughout the cooler regions of the northern hemisphere.
Cranberries are low, creeping shrubs or vines up to 2 metres (7 ft) long and 5 to 20 centimetres (2 to 8 in) in height; they have slender, wiry stems that are not thickly woody and have small evergreen leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with very distinct reflexed petals, leaving the style and stamens fully exposed and pointing forward. They are pollinated by bees. The fruit is a berry that is larger than the leaves of the plant; it is initially white, but turns a deep red when fully ripe. It is edible, with an acidic taste that can overwhelm its sweetness.
Cranberries are a major commercial crop in certain American states and Canadian provinces (see cultivation and uses below). Most cranberries are processed into products such as juice, sauce, jam, and sweetened dried cranberries, with the remainder sold fresh to consumers. Cranberry sauce is regarded as an indispensable part of traditional American and Canadian Thanksgiving menus and some European winter festivals.
Since the early 21st century within the global functional food industry, raw cranberries have been marketed as a “superfruit” due to their nutrient content and antioxidant qualities.

 

 

There are three to four species of cranberry, classified in two sections:
Subgenus Oxycoccus, sect. Oxycoccus
8 Vaccinium oxycoccos or Oxycoccus palustris (Common Cranberry or Northern Cranberry) is widespread throughout the cool temperate northern hemisphere, including northern Europe, northern Asia and northern North America. It has small 5–10 mm leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with a purple central spike, produced on finely hairy stems. The fruit is a small pale pink berry, with a refreshing sharp acidic flavour.
* Vaccinium microcarpum or Oxycoccus microcarpus (Small Cranberry) occurs in northern North America,[6] northern Europe and northern Asia, and differs from V. oxycoccos in the leaves being more triangular, and the flower stems hairless. Some botanists include it within V. oxycoccos.
* Vaccinium macrocarpon or Oxycoccus macrocarpus (Large cranberry, American Cranberry, Bearberry) native to northern North America across Canada, and eastern United States, south to North Carolina at high altitudes). It differs from V. oxycoccos in the leaves being larger, 10–20 mm long, and in its slightly apple-like taste.
Subgenus Oxycoccus, sect. Oxycoccoides
* Vaccinium erythrocarpum or Oxycoccus erythrocarpus (Southern Mountain Cranberry) native to southeastern North America at high altitudes in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and also in eastern Asia.

 

Cranberries

Cranberries

Cranberries are related to bilberries, blueberries, and huckleberries, all in Vaccinium subgenus Vaccinium. These differ in having stouter, woodier stems forming taller shrubs, and in the bell-shaped flowers, the petals not being reflexed.
Some plants of the completely unrelated genus Viburnum are sometimes inaccurately called “highbush cranberries” (Viburnum trilobum).
Cranberries are susceptible to false blossom, a harmful but controllable phytoplasma disease common in the eastern production areas of Massachusetts and New Jersey.

 

 

Cranberries are a major commercial crop in the U.S. states of Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Quebec. 20% of the world’s cranberries are produced in British Columbia’s lower mainland region. In the United States, Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries, with over half of U.S. production. Massachusetts is the second largest U.S. producer. A very small production is found in southern Argentina and Chile, the Netherlands, and Eastern Europe.[citation needed]
Historically, cranberry beds were constructed in wetlands. Today cranberry beds are constructed in upland areas with a shallow water table. The topsoil is scraped off to form dykes around the bed perimeter. Clean sand is hauled into a depth of four to eight inches. The surface is laser leveled flat to provide even drainage. Beds are frequently drained with socked tile in addition to the perimeter ditch. In addition to making it possible to hold water, the dykes allow equipment to service the beds without driving on the vines. Irrigation equipment is installed in the bed to provide irrigation for vine growth and for spring and autumn frost protection.

 

 

Cranberry vines are propagated by moving vines from an established bed. The vines are spread on the surface of the sand of the new bed and pushed into the sand with a blunt disk. The vines are watered frequently during the first few weeks until roots form and new shoots grow. Beds are given frequent light application of nitrogen fertilizer during the first year. The cost of establishment for new cranberry beds is estimated to be about US$70,000 per hectare (approx. $28,300 per acre).
A common misconception about cranberry production is that the beds remain flooded throughout the year. During the growing season cranberry beds are not flooded, but are irrigated regularly to maintain soil moisture. Beds are flooded in the autumn to facilitate harvest and again during the winter to protect against low temperatures. In cold climates like Wisconsin, Maine, and eastern Canada, the winter flood typically freezes into ice, while in warmer climates the water remains liquid. When ice forms on the beds, trucks can be driven onto the ice to spread a thin layer of sand that helps to control pests and rejuvenate the vines. Sanding is done every three to five years.

 

 

Cranberry harvest in New Jersey

Cranberry harvest in New Jersey

Cranberries are harvested in the fall when the fruit takes on its distinctive deep red color. This is usually in September through the first part of November. To harvest cranberries, the beds are flooded with six to eight inches of water above the vines. A harvester is driven through the beds to remove the fruit from the vines. For the past 50 years, water reel type harvesters have been used. Harvested cranberries float in the water and can be corralled into a corner of the bed and conveyed or pumped from the bed. From the farm, cranberries are taken to receiving stations where they are cleaned, sorted, and stored prior to packaging or processing.
Although most cranberries are wet-picked as described above, 5–10% of the US crop is still dry-picked. This entails higher labor costs and lower yield, but dry-picked berries are less bruised and can be sold as fresh fruit instead of having to be immediately frozen or processed. Originally performed with two-handed comb scoops, dry picking is today accomplished by motorized, walk-behind harvesters which must be small enough to traverse beds without damaging the vines.
White cranberry juice is made from regular cranberries that have been harvested after the fruits are mature, but before they have attained their characteristic dark red color. Yields are lower on beds harvested early and the early flooding tends to damage vines, but not severely.
Cranberries for fresh market are stored in shallow bins or boxes with perforated or slatted bottoms, which deter decay by allowing air to circulate. Because harvest occurs in late autumn, cranberries for fresh market are frequently stored in thick walled barns without mechanical refrigeration. Temperatures are regulated by opening and closing vents in the barn as needed. Cranberries destined for processing are usually frozen in bulk containers shortly after arriving at a receiving station.

 

 

About 95% of cranberries are processed into products such as juice drinks, sauce, and sweetened dried cranberries. The remaining are sold fresh to consumers.
Cranberries are normally considered too sharp to be eaten plain and raw, as they are not only sour but bitter as well.
Cranberry juice is a major use of cranberries; it is usually either sweetened to make “cranberry juice cocktail” or blended with other fruit juices to reduce its natural severe tartness. Many cocktails, including the Cosmopolitan, are made with cranberry juice. At one teaspoon of sugar per ounce, cranberry juice cocktail is more highly sweetened than even soda drinks that have been linked to obesity.
Usually cranberries as fruit are cooked into a compote or jelly, known as cranberry sauce. Such preparations are traditionally served with roast turkey, as a staple of English Christmas dinners, and the Canadian and US holiday Thanksgiving. The berry is also used in baking (muffins, scones, cakes and breads). In baking it is often combined with orange or orange zest. Less commonly, innovative cooks use cranberries to add tartness to savory dishes such as soups and stews.
Fresh cranberries can be frozen at home, and will keep up to nine months; they can be used directly in recipes without thawing.
Cranberry wine is made in some of the cranberry-growing regions of the United States and Canada from either whole cranberries, cranberry juice or cranberry juice concentrate.

 

Cheese of the Week – Ackawi

March 9, 2012 at 10:36 PM | Posted in cheese, Food | Leave a comment
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Ackawi

Akkawi cheese ( Akawi, Akawieh, and Ackawi) is a white brine cheese, native to the historical region of Palestine in modern day Israel. It is named after the city of Acre, where it first originated, the Arabic akkawi meaning “from akka”. It is commonly made using cow milk, but can be made with goat or sheep’s milk as well. It is now produced on a large scale in the Middle East, notably in Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus. A soft white cheese, it has a smooth texture and a mild salty taste. Commonly used as a table cheese, it is considered good by itself or paired with fruit.

Country: Middle East
Milk: ewe milk
Texture: hard
Alternate Spellings: akawi, akawieh

Wisconsin Ackawi Cheese Triangles

Ingredients

2 sheets frozen puff pastry,
thawed 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Wisconsin Ackawi cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 egg white, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Makes 32 pieces.

Directions:

*Combine cheese, parsley, onion, egg white and red pepper; set aside.
*On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 sheet pastry into a 12×12 inch square; cut into 16 3×3 inch squares.
*Place 1 tablespoon cheese mixture on each square; fold pastry over each filling, forming a triangle. Seal edges with tines of a fork; place on an ungreased baking sheet.
*Bake at 400° F for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat process with second sheet of puff pastry.
*Serve warm.

Cheese Curds – Great Lakes Region

November 25, 2011 at 2:15 PM | Posted in baking, Food | 1 Comment
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The people of the state of Wisconsin love their cheese so much that they even wear funky Styrofoam cheese hats at Green Bay

Poutine served in Montreal

Packersfootball games. They call themselves “cheese heads” and like to nibble on deep-fried cheese curds. Every restaurant, bar, and bowling alley in Wisconsin seems to serve them. They are usually a monster=sized appetizer, and they compete with French fries as a side order with sandwiches. They are also a favorite at local fairs, festivals, and fishing lodges. It is said that the folks in Wisconsin crave their curds.

Cheese curds, a uniquely Wisconsin delicacy, are formed as a by-product of the cheese-making process. Most cheese curd (at least the ones made in Wisconsin) are a cheddar cheese product. Some can be made from mozzarella, Colby, or Monterey jack cheeses.

Cheese curds are little-known in locations without cheese factories, because they should ideally be eaten absolutely fresh, within hours of manufacture. They have about the same firmness as cheese, but have a springy or rubbery texture. They are usually orange in color. They are little nubs of cheese, roughly the size of peanuts, which, if very fresh, squeak when you bite down on them. The “squeak” is a very high-pitched sound. Unlike aged cheese, curds lose their desirable qualities if refrigerated or if not eaten with a few days. The squeak disappears, and they turn dry and salty. If you find them in supermarkets, they are probably a few weeks old and inedible. Cheese curds have become so popular that many Wisconsin cheese factories make the curds daily to meet the demand of cheese curd lovers.

Wisconsin is the leading producer of cheese in the United States, with much of Wisconsin’s cheese made at small, family-owned and operated cheese factories. Cheese making began in Wisconsin around 1840, when word of Wisconsin’s rich farmland spread throughout Europe and the United States. Settlers from the eastern dairy states of New York and Ohio, as well as immigrants from Switzerland, Germany, and other countries in Europe, brought their traditions of cheese making and secret recipes to Wisconsin. By 1922, there were more than 2,800 cheese factories in the state. Wisconsin produces over 2 billion pounds of cheese per year, and its cheese is considered among the best in the world.

Quebec, Canada, has their own popular way of eating cheese curds called Poutine. Poutine is a French-Canadian recipe in which

deep fried cheese curds

French fries are topped with cheese curds and gravy. Other ways of eating cheese curds is by sprinkling them with different seasonings such as garlic, jalapeno, Cajun, chipotle, pesto, paprika, pepper and then serving and eating them like potato chips. Some people even eat them with ketchup, just like you would French fries.

Deep Fried Cheese Curds

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 pound cheese curds
1 quart oil for frying

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the eggs and milk. Mix until smooth. Add more milk for a thinner batter. Coat the cheese curds with the batter.
2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Fry the coated cheese curds approximately 1 minute each, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Nutrition Amount Per Serving

Information
Servings Per Recipe: 24
Calories: 136
Total Fat: 10.5g
Cholesterol: 38mg
Sodium: 196mg
Total Carbs: 4.5g
Dietary Fiber: 0.1g
Protein: 5.9g

http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/CheeseCurds.htm

National Dish of the Week – United States Great Lakes Region

November 25, 2011 at 2:06 PM | Posted in baking, Food | 2 Comments
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United States Great Lakes Region

The Great Lakes region of the United States includes the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York. The region enjoys four distinct seasons. Although the climate is considered temperate, temperatures in the summer can exceed 100°F and can drop to –10°F in the winter. There is rich farm land, and farmers’ markets offer abundant produce and fruit in the late summer and early fall across the region.

The region is also home to much manufacturing activity. Industrial pollution threatened the health of the Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie (the smallest Great Lake), until the 1960s, when a growing awareness of environmental concerns led to increased government regulation. Acid-rain, believed to be caused by air pollution generated by the coal-fired utility plants in the region, is also a concern. Increased acidity in the lakes creates unhealthy conditions for fish and other living things in the ecosystem of the region.

The Great Lakes region was originally populated by American Indians who taught later European settlers how to hunt the local game, fish, and gather wild rice and maple syrup, as well as how to grow and eat corn and native squashes and beans. The European immigrants, mostly from Germany, Scandinavia, Holland, Poland, and Cornwall, England, each shared their traditional dishes with the rest of America. The Germans contributed frankfurters (hot dogs), hamburgers, sauerkraut, potato salad, noodles, bratwurst,

Various types of Kielbasa

liverwurst, and pretzels to the American diet. Scandinavian foods include lefse (potato flatbread), limpa (rye bread), lutefisk (dried cod soaked in lye), and Swedish meatballs, as well as the smorgasbord (a table laid out with several courses of small foods). The Polish introduced kielbasa (a type of sausage) , pierogies (a type of stuffed pasta), Polish dill pickles, and babka (an egg cake). Pancakes are a Dutch contribution, along with waffles, doughnuts, cookies, and coleslaw. Miners from Cornwall brought their Cornish pasties, and small meat pies that were easily carried for lunch. Later immigrants from Arab countries settled in Detroit, Michigan, and introduced America to foods like hummus (puréed chickpeas), felafel (deep-fried bean cakes), and tabbouleh (bulgur wheat salad).

Dairy is a major industry in the Great Lakes region, particularly Wisconsin, known as “America’s Dairyland.” Dairy farmers in Wisconsin milk about 2 million cows every day, and there is one cow for every two people in the state. Not surprisingly, milk, butter, and cheese are staples in the Great Lakes diet. Pigs are also common on farms in the Great Lakes region because they take up less space and are easier to raise than beef cattle. Pork, therefore, is another common ingredient in Great Lakes cooking, especially in the form of sausage.

The majority of those who live around the Great Lakes are descended from German, Scandinavian, and Dutch farmers who settled there in the 1800s. Farming life shaped the diet and mealtime schedule of the region. Hearty breakfasts and generous lunches gave the farmers the energy to finish their work. German immigrants taught America to serve meals “family-style,” with all the food on the table at once, rather than bringing it out to the table in individual servings.

The Scandinavians brought their tradition of the smorgasbord to America. The smorgasbord is a large feast made up of a variety of small dishes laid out together on one table, beginning with bread and fish and moving through hot dishes, such as Swedish meatballs, all the way to dessert. Each person or family brings a dish to contribute to the smorgasbord. (The word “smorgasbord” has even been adopted into the English language to refer generally to anything offering a wide variety of items.)

 

Miners from Cornwall, England, had long eaten pasties (PAST-eez), small meat pies that were easy to carry for lunch. Immigrants to

A pasty

the Great Lakes area brought their tradition of Cornish pasties with them, and they are still a popular snack in the area.

Germans love beer and started a number of breweries around the Great Lakes. The Pabst and Schlitz breweries were both founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the 1800s by German Americans. (Milwaukee still ranks as the number-one beer-drinking city in America: While Americans on average drink 6 gallons of beer per year, Milwaukee residents average 42 gallons.) The Great Lakes region is also home to many well-known food companies, including Kellogg’s, Kraft, Pillsbury, Green Giant, and Land O’ Lakes.

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