Tough cheese! Ponderings on cheese & rheology

cheese rheology

My mother used to tell me that if I ate cheese late at night I’d dream.  I always wondered what was wrong with dreaming…..  Cheese is one of the essential food groups along with chocolate – indeed my local Hubbertucky goat cheese producer, Westfield Farm, makes a wonderful chocolate goat cheese combining both essentials….  Cheese is a mandatory comfort food probably because of the potentially high fat content and the extraordinary amount of choice with respect to type and flavor: think of the famous Borat sketch in the supermarket.

In my view there’s a hierarchy of cheese in a manner akin to beer leading to whisky via wine and marijuana leading to heroin via cocaine. At the lowest level, and not really a cheese, I’d put cottage cheese.  This is some form of non-macho apology for wall paper paste, in my humble opinion and only a small step down from standard mousetrap cheddar.  To get to the hard drug level of cheese we’re talking of Stilton, cheeses with habanero peppers incorporated, gorgonzola, and the supposed world’s smelliest cheese, Epoisses.  Epoisses has been banned from public transportation vehicles all over France. It is made from raw cow’s milk and its rind is washed with pomace brandy.  Makes you want to run out and get some immediately.

Each cheese has its own unique physical properties as well as titillating the human senses from an organoleptic perspective.  Consider the humble mozzarella; in 2012 approximately 3.6 BILLION pounds of mozzarella was produced in the US alone most of it probably destined for pizza where its rheological properties are key.

It won’t surprise you to know that pizza is the most common food served in US schools – no wonder there was a recent project looking at reducing the fat content without destroying the flavor and stretchy properties….. The stretchy properties are pretty unique to mozzarella and, although it’s often mixed with other components altering somewhat the rheological properties, the flexibility means it produces the most even browning effect from the surface area of the formed vapor bubble on heating.  There’s a much more to cheese rheology than you may think – small oscillations can probe the fat/casein structure and this is different for very cheese and its mix.

So cheese and rheology, a fascinating topic.  As is the viscosity of mayonnaise, another essential food group usually associated with turkey.  An ideal combination for a webinar, you say! Well look no further than 4/29 when I’ll be dealing with this combo – click here for more details and to sign up.  Be there or be triangular as the pizza slice would say…

Related Content:

Blog Post: Waxing lyrical about rheology

Recorded Webinar: Applications of rheology in the waxes, creams and emulsions arena

Poster: Using Rheology as a Benchmarking Tool for Emulsion Products

Recorded Webinar: Particle size and rheology in the chocolate industry

Application Note: Characterization of Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) using multi-detector size-exclusion chromatography