Ask the Experts

Traditional blue recipe

Ask the Experts

Naomi Crisante is a food educator, television presenter and food writer with over 15 years experience in Australia’s cheese industry. She is an accredited cheese judge, judges at various specialist cheese shows and represented Australia as a judge at the 2006 World Cheese Championship Contest in Wisconsin, USA. Naomi also managed the Australian Grand Dairy Awards for nine years, since their inception in 1999.

Naomi Crisante Food Communications

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I'm pregnant. Can I still eat cheese?

Pregnant women have special dietary needs, for their own health and that of their growing baby.Cheeses are high in calcium and protein – important nutrients for expectant mothers .

Listeria are bacteria that can cause serious illness called Listeriosis in some people . Pregnant women can be at a higher risk of Listeriosis if they consume certain foods – such as soft and semi soft cheeses (e.g. Brie, Camembert, Ricotta, Fetta, Blue Cheeses).

Hard Cheeses such as cheddar and tasty cheeses are considered to be safe for pregnant women. Please remember to store correctly in the fridge.

For specific dietary information on cheese during pregnancy – see your doctor or an Accredited Practising Dietician.

Can people watching their cholesterol still eat cheese?

We get cholesterol from our diet and our body also produces it.  Cholesterol is an essential part of many body processes, but it is important to keep an eye on the level in our body.

Being an animal product, cheese does contain cholesterol and fat.    If you are watching your cholesterol level, and cheese is a particular pleasure for you, perhaps enjoy in moderation.&nbsp ; Try eating smaller portions of high quality cheese, instead of lots of cheese “hidden” in other foods (such as in toppings, on pizzas, or as thick slices in sandwiches).  Ideally select reduced fat and lower fat cheeses.  For more information on cholesterol and heart health, speak to your doctor or see an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Are cheeses suitable for children?

There are as many different ‘children’s’ cheeses as there are children ! Cheese contains many nutrients essential for daily health, such as calcium and protein. Eating cheese is one way you can help your children get the nutritional requirements they need every day. Cheese makes a great snack in the lunchbox, or when kids come home from school to help keep the hunger at bay before dinner.

Let your child explore as many cheeses as possible! It is a great way to help develop their palate and widen their range of likes and dislikes.  Some kids may prefer a mild cheese such as Edam or Gouda, but don’t be scared to let them try a stronger cheese! Others may love the sharp taste of vintage Cheddar, or the creaminess of a Brie or Camembert. The Australian Gold range has a wide variety of different cheeses sure to tempt even the fussiest little eater!

How much cheese is safe for a person to eat daily ? What are the risks to cholestorol and heart problems?

Thank you for your enquiry.  Cheese can be included in moderation as part of a balanced diet – as a snack or as part of a meal.

The Dietary Guidelines for Australians recommends enjoying a variety of nutritious foods, including dairy foods such as cheese.

Health professionals recommend having around 3 serves of dairy a day to help meet your calcium needs – and this includes cheese.  

A sample serve size of cheese is 40g, approximately 2 slices of cheese.

There are a variety of cheeses available that have different amounts of fat, salt and calcium.

In terms of what is safe, and risks to cholesterol and heart problems, we recommend that you consult your General Practitioner, or an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Do you send email newsletters with new recipes and what's new?

If you would like to join our mailing list, please submit your details for our regular Newsletter, including recipes by following this internet link:

http://www.cheesematters.com.au/sign-up-newsletter/

I would like to learn to make cheese, can you suggest how?

For home cheesemaking guidance, contact Carole Willman at Cheeselinks - http://www .cheeselinks.com.au

Carole and Neil Willman have an excellent book on home cheesemaking and Carole runs workshops around the country.

If you want to get serious about it, then Neil runs courses for professional cheesemakers as well .

What is cheese made from?

At its simplest, cheese is made with milk, a little salt, a dash of culture (like that used to make yoghurt) and rennet. Some cheeses may have herbs or spices added to them for flavour and colour. Cheesemakers use their skill and various cheesemaking methods to produce a wonderful variety of cheeses, in different shapes, textures, flavours and ages.

What is the white fluffy coating on Brie and Camembert? Is it really mould?

The soft white rind of these cheeses is a type of mould (Penicillium Candidum). The white mould coating blooms like soft velvet on the surfaces of the cheese. This protects the surface of the cheese and helps it soften and mature in flavour. The white rind has a mushroom-like aroma and flavour, and most people enjoy eating the rind with the cheese to experience the full flavour. If you find the smell of a very ripe soft cheese too overpowering, feel free to avoid eating the rind and concentrate on the delicate cheese inside.

How does the ‘blue’ get inside Blue cheese?

The rich blue veins that are beautifully marbled through blue cheeses are indeed mould . The 'blue' culture is a special type of mould (Penicillium Roqueforti) which is added to the milk at the beginning of the cheesemaking process. It is perfectly safe to eat and adds a distinctive flavour and aroma to the cheese, much enjoyed by cheese lovers.

The characteristic blue-green veins in blue cheeses feather out from distinctive straight lines inside the cheese. Because of this, many people think that the blue mould is 'injected' into the cheese. Not true! The blue cultures are added to the milk at the very beginning of cheesemaking. When the cheese is a few weeks old, there are no blue veins yet visible, as the mould needs air to grow. At this point , the cheese is pierced with stainless steel rods to allow air in. When exposed to air, the mould gradually grows and spreads, first moving through the spike lines created by the rods, then spreading throughout the cheese. The mould turns a beautiful blue/green colour and helps mature the cheese from the inside . Older cheeses will have many more blue veins and the base cheese will mature into a crumbly and rich texture.

How much milk do you need to make 1kg of cheese?

It takes approximately 10 litres of milk to make 1 kilogram of cheese.