It’s all too often that people are scared of their cheese, whether it be from funky-colored or strangely-covered rinds, suspicious-looking mold, or an unexpected texture. I’m here to quell those fears! After a few talks with my friend Carrie in the Livingston store, she came up with this blog idea to discuss these various potential mysteries keeping you away from that deliciously cheesy snack. And so the mini-blog series is born: What’s on my cheese?
Have you ever tried a cheese and noticed a little crunch in it? Ever seen some potentially suspect white spots on your freshly cut block of cheddar? Fear not! Those spots are not mold, and that crunch is definitely supposed to be there. It’s a sign of some form of crystallization in the cheese, it is normal, and some people even come into the store seeking it out! There are two types of crystallization that typically occurs in artisan cheeses: tyrosine and calcium lactate. Let’s start with the first type.
Tyrosine formation usually occurs through the aging process of a cheese. When the proteins are breaking down, one particular amino acid that breaks free to create tasty little bits of crunch throughout the body of the cheese; this is tyrosine. It’s commonly found in many hard Italian cheeses, such as Parmigiano Reggiano or Aged Asiago, as well as in many Aged Goudas.
Ever pick up a piece of Cheddar cheese and see some patches of white along the side? This is an example of the other type of crunchies you might find: calcium lactate. It’s formed from the milk’s sugar, lactose, and is often found covering the outside of a cheese instead of dotting it within. It’s not hard to mistake this extra tasty kick for a white mold, so be sure to double-check before you scorn your cheese!
If you’re ever unsure about what you’re seeing on your cheese, don’t hesitate to stop in and consult your local Vineyard Market employee. We are cheese people after all!