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What Do I Make?: Traditional American Cheeses

Below are some examples of traditional American cheeses. After you have made your short-list of possible products, take a look at the details of how long it will take to process, skill level needed, and resources.

~Cottage Cheese
Type:  Lactic
Milk Type:  Fresh, so must pasteurize if for resale; Skim with salted cream dressing.
Breed Associated:  None specifically
Regional Preference:  National production. Highest consumption figures in west and north central regions (1962). Check for regional preference to large or small curd product.
Time to Process:  Short Set process Process on same day, 8.5 – 10 hours after pasteurization, then packaging and cleaning.  Long-Set Process 2-days, total process time after pasteurization, 8.5-10 hours, then packaging and cleaning.
Skill Level:  Medium to high (curd is fragile and can disappear during stir if not careful)
Description:  Pleasant lactic flavor. Often sold to consumers in one-trip plastic deli style containers.  Convenient to eat. Popular due to its high protein, mineral, and vitamin content. May be large curd or small curd and easy to add sweet or savory flavors. 
Best Resource:  Cottage Cheese and Other Milk Products, by Douglas B. Emmons, PhD and Stewart L. Tuckey, PhD, published by Chas. Pfizer & Co., NY, NY 1967.


~Buttermilk Cheese

Type:  Lactic
Milk Type:  Fresh, so must pasteurize if for resale; Skim with salted cream dressing.
Breed Associated:  None specifically
Regional Preference:  National production. More common in smaller regional markets or on farm.
Time to Process:  Same as cottage cheese
Skill Level:  Medium to high (curd is fragile and can disappear during stir if not careful)
Description: Closely resembles cottage cheese, only made with buttermilk.  Generally made with sweet butter cream (made before churned and then soured) rather than cultured cream for butter.  “Casein of sour cream has already been coagulated with acid and broken during churning into very minute rather hard particles.  These fine particles are difficult to recover. Cheese made entirely from buttermilk may be sandy in texture and not very palatable. Mix with skim milk to improve flavor and texture.
Best ResourceThe Book of Cheese by Charles Thom and Walter Warner Fisk, reprinted by Applewood Press, Bedford, MA originally published in 1918.


~American (or Domestic) Neufchatel

Type:  Lactic
Milk Type:  Fresh, so must pasteurize if for resale
Breed Associated:  None specifically
Regional Preference:  National production.  Most common in NY, NJ, PA area.
Time to Process:  3-days, total time about 8-12 minutes of labor per 10-gal of milk, plus packaging and cleaning.
Skill Level:  low to medium.
Description:  Similar to cream cheese, only less fat and more moisture (like cows’ milk chevre).  Has more sharp flavor (lactic) even though pH the same as cream cheese. Can be packaged in retail deli tubs or molded and flavored like chevre.
Best ResourcesCottage Cheese and Other Milk Products,  by Douglas B. Emmons, PhD and Stewart L. Tuckey, PhD, published by Chas. Pfizer & Co., NY, NY 1967.The Book of Cheese by Charles Thom and Walter Warner Fisk, reprinted by Applewood Press, Bedford, MA originally published in 1918.


~Cream Cheese

Type:  Lactic
Milk Type:  Fresh double cream (half and half), so must pasteurize if for resale;
Breed Associated:  None specifically
Regional Preference:  National production. 
Time to Process:  3-days, total time about 8-12 minutes of labor per 10-gal of milk, plus packaging and cleaning.
Skill Level:  low to medium
Description:  Mild lactic flavor. Often sold in deli tubs or in blocks in foil.   
Best Resources:  Cottage Cheese and Other Milk Products,  by Douglas B. Emmons, PhD and Stewart L. Tuckey, PhD, published by Chas. Pfizer & Co., NY, NY 1967.The Book of Cheese by Charles Thom and Walter Warner Fisk, reprinted by Applewood Press, Bedford, MA originally published in 1918.


~ Bakers Cheese

Type:  Lactic
Milk Type:  Fresh skim milk, so must pasteurize if for resale;
Breed Associated:  None specifically
Regional Preference:  National production. More common in NYC market area.
Time to Process:  3-days, total time about 8-12 minutes of labor per 10-gal of milk, plus packaging and cleaning.
Skill Level:  low to medium
Description:  Pleasant lactic flavor.  Often used by bakers, so sold in larger tubs. 
Best Resource:  Cottage Cheese and Other Milk Products, by Douglas B. Emmons, PhD and Stewart L. Tuckey, PhD, published by Chas. Pfizer & Co., NY, NY 1967.


~ Pennsylvania Pot Cheese

Type:  Soft Ripened
Milk Type:  Principly for local use (home). Most likely raw.  For legal sale pasteurized whole milk.
Breed Associated:  None specifically
Regional Preference:  certain PA counties
Time to Process:  3-10 days.  Specific amount of labor involved not known.
Skill Level:  low to medium
Description:  Has soft buttery flavor and consistency. Resembles Camembert flavor and texture.  The process involves taking a homemade cottage cheese, keeping it at room temperature for a few days, stirring it until semi liquid (3-7 days).  Then heat in water bath until melted and smooth.  Add butter or cream with salt and place in jelly molds or glasses. 
Best Resource:  The Book of Cheese by Charles Thom and Walter Warner Fisk, reprinted by Applewood Press, Bedford, MA originally published in 1918.

 
~Raffine
Type:  Soft-Ripened
Milk Type:  Whole milk
Breed Associated:  May have history with Canadienne.
Regional Preference:  French Settlement on the Isle of Orleans in St. Lawrence River.
Time to Process:  na
Skill Level:  medium
Description:  Intermediate between Camambert and Isigny 
Best Resource:  The Book of Cheese by Charles Thom and Walter Warner Fisk, reprinted by Applewood Press, Bedford, MA originally published in 1918.


~ Liederkranz

Type:  Soft-Ripened
Milk Type:  Whole Milk;
Breed Associated:  None specifically
Regional Preference:  Originally NY, then WI.
Time to Process:  na
Skill Level:  medium
Description:  In same family as Limburger and Brick. As a brand owned.  Not made commercially anymore. Would be highly interesting to revive this cheese. 
Best ResourceThe Book of Cheese by Charles Thom and Walter Warner Fisk, reprinted by Applewood Press, Bedford, MA originally published in 1918.


~ Limburger

Type:  Soft Ripened
Milk Type:  Whole
Breed Associated:  None specifically
Regional Preference:  History of production in NY and WI.
Time to Process: na
Skill Level: medium to high (after care more labor intensive)
Description: Best known for offensive odor.  Most often consumed during deer hunting season in some regions. Always sold in square or rectangular package.  Foil wrapped.
Best Resource:  The Book of Cheese by Charles Thom and Walter Warner Fisk, reprinted by Applewood Press, Bedford, MA originally published in 1918.


~ Brick

Type:  Semi-hard – bacteria ripened
Milk Type:  Whole milk
Breed Associated:  None specifically
Regional Preference:  WI
Time to Process: 
Skill Level: medium
Description:  Has the appearance, texture and flavor of cheddars with only a trace of the taste of Linburger.  A sweet-curd cheese, made from fresh milk. Very little acid development until after in hoop.  Brick shape, hence name. Based on German cheeses, most likely Bäckstein.
Best ResourceThe Book of Cheese by Charles Thom and Walter Warner Fisk, reprinted by Applewood Press, Bedford, MA originally published in 1918.


~ Oka (or Port du Salut)

Type:  Bacteria Ripened – Semi-Hard Cheese
Milk Type:  Whole or milk not over 1/5th skimmed.
Breed Associated:  None specifically, maybe suited to Canadienne
Regional Preference:  Quebec and other Trappist orders in America
Time to Process: 
Skill Level:  medium
Description:  Very similar to Brick in taste and texture.  Small wheels, 3#, 1-1/2” thick.
Best Resource:  Cottage Cheese and Other Milk Products,  by Douglas B. Emmons, PhD and Stewart L. Tuckey, PhD, published by Chas. Pfizer & Co., NY, NY 1967.


~ Pineapple Cheese

Type:  Cheddar
Milk Type:  Whole milk
Breed Associated:  None specifically
Regional Preference:  Originally made in NY
Time to Process:  2 hours 45 minutes
Skill Level:  medium
Description:  A cheddar-like cheese made in the shape of a pineapple. There was a project to revive it, but sale of the cheese, especially in traditional form, has not been followed through with. It may be interesting with someone milking Shorthorns or Ayrshires.
Best Resource:  Dave Barbano, Cornell University and Bob Hewett at Evans Creamery, Norwich, NY


~ Herkimer Cheese

Type:  Cheddar
Milk Type:  Whole
Breed Associated:  None specifically.  Notes in Ag Publications of the day promoted cross of native scrub cow, Shorthorn, and Devon to make this cheese. Probably best to pick one of those breeds and work with that.
Regional Preference:  Herkimer County, NY and surrounding areas
Time to Process:  4 ½ – 6 hours
Skill Level:  medium
Description:  The first cheese that established a standard type, size and quality of cheddar. Was exported in great quantities to England. Made many communities in Herkimer County.  The name is still trademarked, but the recipe is available and can be adapted to modern use.
Best Resource:  History of Cheese in NY


~ Emmenthal and Guyere

Type:  Swiss
Milk Type:  Whole milk
Breed Associated:  None specifically
Regional Preference:  Mohawk and Cattaraugus Counties, NY, Wayne, Stark, Summit, Columbiana and Tuscarawas, OH and Green and Dodge Counties in WI.  Later two are the most traditionally productive in this type of cheese.
Time to Process: 
Skill Level:  medium to high
Description:  Two very different styles of Swiss alpine cheese, but generally lumped together in terms of history in the US. Emmenthal is the softer, more plastic style generally seen in grocery stores.  Guyere is the drier, more nutty-flavored one seen in quality cheese counters in those same grocery stores. The former generally does not have a rind and tends to more industrial makes, the later is suitable for farmstead cheese production and can have a natural rind.
Best Resource:  


~ Colby

Type:  Washed curd
Milk Type:  Whole milk
Breed Associated:  None specifically, maybe suited to Canadienne
Regional Preference:  National
Time to Process:  4 ½ hours
Skill Level:  medium
Description:  Like a cheddar only moister paste. Creamy, easy to eat. Common farmhouse style cheese. 
Best Resource:  Margaret Morris


~ Vermont Store Cheese

Type:  Washed curd
Milk Type:  Whole milk
Breed Associated:  None specifically
Regional Preference:  Vermont/New England
Time to Process:  4 ½ hours
Skill Level:  medium
Description:  Like a cheddar only moister paste. Creamy, easy to eat. Common farmhouse style cheese. 
Best Resource:  See Colby recipes.  Most like that from what I can tell.


~ Small Holders Cheese

Type:  cheddar
Milk Type:  Whole milk
Breed Associated:  None specifically
Regional Preference:  Mid-Atlantic, Scotch-Irish and English Immigrants
Time to Process:  4 ½ hours
Skill Level:  medium
Description:  Like a cheddar only moister paste.  Creamy, easy to eat. Common farmhouse style cheese. 
Best Resource:  Foxfire, Kathy Biss

 

Other Dairy

~Cajeta
Type:  Goat Milk Caramel Sauce
Milk Type:  Whole goat milk
Breed Associated:  Spanish goats
Regional Preference:  South West, especially linked to Spanish colonies. 
Time to Process:  4 ½ hours
Skill Level:  low to medium
Description:  Wonderful caramel spread. Was traditional way to preserve milk in desert South West.  Spanish goats are only ones noted in historical reference. High solids are helpful in making caramel.
Best Resource:  Internet or local Mexican community.

Next>

What Do I Make?


Deciding What to Make

Traditional American Cheese

Additional Resources

 

Farmstead and Specialty Cheese Types (Dave Potter)

Cultures and Enzymes for Cheesemaking (Dave Potter)