Many traditional aged cheeses have probiotic strains and numerous health benefits
When it comes to dairy products, there is an abundance of foods with the required probiotics. In this article, we’ll take a look at what cheeses are rich in probiotics. Aged cheese is particularity high in these essential probiotics.
Not all aged cheeses contain probiotics; this includes mozzarella and ricotta which are not generally made by the fermentation process. This also includes cheese spreads and other cheese products as they are heated in the production process, killing off any bacteria that may be alive in the cheese. It is cheeses that are made using the lacto-fermentation process and raw milk that will have the lactic acid producing bacteria that make up probiotics.
One aged cheese that is well known to be rich in probiotics is the cheese, Gouda. Gouda was originally created in Holland but has now become a generic name for many hard cheeses. You can buy these cheeses anywhere around the world. Gouda is made by heating cultured milk until you have curd separating from the whey. The curd is washed by removing some of the whey and then adding water to remove some of the lactic acid produced. The curd is placed in a circular mould, giving the cheese its traditional shape, and then soaked in brine. It is then dried for several days and covered to prevent it for drying out as it is left to aged. Gouda can be allowed to age for weeks or even years. The longer it ages, the more probiotics are produced. The result is a cheese with a rich flavour, subtle sweetness and firm texture.
Being rich in probiotics, Gouda helps aid the digestive system function better. Studies carried out on pensioners in Finland have shown that Gouda helps boost the natural immune system. This is essential for the elderly as your immune function decreases with age. So eating cheeses is a cheap and efficient way of boosting your health, especially as an elderly person.
Another hard cheese that is rich in probiotics is Cheddar. This is another common cheese across the world. It is an age old cheese that is originally from England, particularly from the village of Cheddar in Somerset. Nowadays, it is produced in various countries around the world, with the The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company being the only Cheddar production company based in Cheddar itself.
In making Cheddar, the cultured milk is first heated, the curd is then kneaded with salt, cubed to drain the whey and then loaded as a pile. Aged Cheddar is aged for a maximum of 15 months known as strong, extra mature Cheddar. Cheddars have been known to contain Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus brevis, which are both lactic acid producing bacteria (probiotics). Interestingly, Cheddar is kept in caves as this provides the ideal environment for aging. The result is a sharp and full taste, and a firm texture.
Emmental is a cheese originally from Switzerland that is also rich in probiotics. It is one of the cheeses known as Swiss cheese in the USA, New Zealand and Australia. The Emmental cheese is known for the characteristic large holes in the yellow cheese block.
To make Emmental, a starter is used containing Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus, and Propionibacterium freudenreichii bacteria. In the final stage of production, the lactic acid produced by the first two bacteria is consumed by the Propionibacterium freudenreichii bacteria to produce carbon dioxide gas. The bubbling gas it the reason for the holes in the cheese. The cheese is aged between 4 and 14 months, and mostly in humid caves, as with Cheddar. Emmental is commonly used in Fondue, where it is mixed in with Gruyère cheese.
Blue Cheeses are cheeses made from cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk that is laced with Penicillium cultures. This gives the cheese the blue-green mold veins or spots and a distinct smell. Other cultures/spores are sometimes injected into the curds when they form. The production method is similar to that for Cheddar, being aged in a cave as well once the cheese is made.There is a large variety of blue cheeses around the world. In Europe, the most popular forms of blue cheese are Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Stilton with Gorgonzola being the oldest know blue cheese. They all tend to be sharp and salty in taste, and are best enjoyed with tannic red wine, crackers or fruit.Finally, with the surge in interest in probiotics, many commercial cheese manufacturers are seeking to deliberately produce probiotic cheeses.
One example is the launch of Kraft LiveActive in Canada, which is Cheddar cheese combined with probiotics, and Applegate Farms Yogurt Cheese with probiotics in the US. The benefit of the Applegate yoghurt cheese is that it’s gluten and dairy-free so the cheese can be enjoyed by even those sensitive to these products or have trouble digesting cheese. There is also Lavarone Bros. Specially Selected – Amish Yogurt Cheese which is regular cheese prepared with probiotics live cultures, but with no additives or preservatives.
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