We love cheese in our house, but I will be honest and tell you that, I am not a cheese connoisseur and really don’t know much about cheese beyond picking up our family favorites at the grocery store. One of my favorite late night snacks has to be cheese and crackers and my boys would have cheese at every meal if I let them.
Recently we had the opportunity to have a cheese tasting party and distinguish the differences in processed sliced cheese versus natural sliced cheese and how to taste cheese. Let’s face it, eating is something us humans have to do every day and sometimes even that becomes very routine. We grab quick meals and foods we are used to eating and pay little attention to their taste.
1. Look at the cheeses. Natural cheeses, like cheddar, come in many different colors, but in general an understated and non-glossy appearance. Processed cheese is shiny in appearance even after the plastic is removed.
2. Touch the cheese to feel its texture. Bend the cheese. Natural cheese texture can vary by the type and variety of the cheese but will break in authentic fashion. Process cheese Processed cheese is characterized by a smooth, rubbery and artificially pliable texture, and can often bend and fold without breaking.
3. Smell the cheeses like you’d smell a glass of wine. Natural cheeses’ aroma will vary by cheese type, and the range of smells span and can best be described as earthy, nutty, and fruity. Processed cheese is usually lacking in a strong aroma, but can have cooked milk notes due to its heating process. what aromas do you pick up when you smell the cheeses?
4. Taste the cheese. Natural cheeses have an incredible array of flavors – from savory to fruity to spicy and sharp. the dominant characteristic in processed cheese is often described as salty. take note of the characteristics of the cheese, the intensity of the flavor, the saltiness, sharpness or fruitiness of the cheese. how does it finish? does the taste linger?
After setting the stage for our cheese tasting party, I let my husband, kids, and neighborhood friends go to work on our cheese and fruit spread. At first, they grabbed whatever was in front of them, but I quickly noticed that they only went back for the Sargento Natural Sharp Cheddar Cheese slices vs the unnamed processed slices. When I closed my eyes and tasted the different cheeses, I noticed that the flavor was richer in the Sargento cheese and the texture was much more appealing. The processed cheese seemed to feel slimy when it hit my tongue, and lacked a definite distinguishable flavor, it just tasted like salt and had no real cheese smell. There is a clear difference in taste of natural cheese versus processed cheese and also a difference in ingredients. I cannot believe I never payed this close attention after so many years of taking out a processed cheese slice and plopping it on my sandwiches! Clearly, I have been missing out.
(You can see the difference in cheeses here)
Processed pre-packaged cheese slices go back to my fond childhood memories of grilled cheese sandwiches, but during this cheese tasting, I learned a little something about my processed cheese that I always loved. Most often times, processed cheese can sit on store shelves without refrigeration and are often times pumped into their packaging and rolled out to form it into a square and is cooked into a liquid before it is formed into a slice. After reading this, all I could say was eww! No more shiny cheese for me!
Hands down, the natural cheese beat the processed floppy stuff and everyone could honestly tell the difference immediately just by looking at the different cheeses as well as, the difference in taste. After really sitting down and tasting the difference, I don’t think the processed stuff will be my go to choice for our favorite grilled cheese because good cheese should make your taste buds do a little dance when you first take a bite, and although I like shiny things, but my food doesn’t have to have bling to taste good.
**The Motherhood and Sargento provided the cheese tasting supplies to help facilitate or cheese tasting party and my post, the opinions expressed are strictly that of my own.**