It’s my favorite holiday!

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It is National Cheese Lovers Day and you know what that means. I, your trusty Country Culture editor-in-chief, will be eating the fanciest of cheeses with wild abandon.

If you’re like me, you can’t exactly put into words why you love cheese so much. Yes, taste is good. Yes, texture is nice. Some have good aromas and some have smells so weird you can’t stop sniffing them. (For example: brie smells a bit like wet, dirty socks to me, but it tastes so good!) Even if language fails you today, you can undeniably say “I love cheese.”

Hello, beautiful.

At its essence, cheese is simply the coagulated form of the milk protein casein. During production, the milk is usually acidified and the enzymes of either rennet (which is produced in the stomachs of ruminants) or bacterial enzymes with similar activity are added to cause the casein to coagulate. The solid curds are then separated from the liquid whey and pressed into finished cheese.

Love cheese? Great! Over a thousand types of cheeses exist. The flavors and textures depend on the milk used (most often coming from cows, sheep, goats or buffalo), the animals’ diets, the butterfat content, the bacteria and molds used in processing and how long they’ve been aged. If you’ve ever tried long-aged cave cheese, you know the magic of the “bubbles” popping in your mouth!

Cheese is valued for its portability, long shelf life and high content of fat, protein, calcium and phosphorus – it’s almost like a superfood! Hard cheeses, such as Parmesan, last longer than soft cheeses, such as brie or goat’s milk cheese. If you live anywhere near a dairy, you probably live near someone who makes their own cheese, and what better way to support your neighbors and celebrate Jan. 20 than with local cheese?

In the Central New York, we are blessed with the CNY Cheese Trail, which features eight cheese makers across Madison, Oneida, Otsego and Herkimer counties.

Feeling a little more DIY? You can also try your hand at making your own cheese at home.

Whatever you do today, just enjoy National Cheese Lovers Day. You know I will be.

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One Response

  1. I missed Cheese Lover’s Day? Darn it! Oh well, I’ll still make grilled cheese sandwiches tonight in celebration!

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