Monday, August 24, 2009


We're all trying to watch what we eat. Watch your carbs, eat your veggies, make sure you get enough anti-oxidants, watch your fat intake....and I totally agree that a balanced diet is important. Cheese is an important part of that balanced diet. I know, you've been thinking all along that you love cheese, but it is so fattening. It's just for special occasions, etc. Turns out, there are ways to have your cheese and eat it too! Just keep your eye on the butterfat.

Here's the trick - butterfat is usually listed on the package if you buy your cheese at the market. But just because the Brie is listed at 40% butterfat and the Cheddar is listed at 25%, it doesn't mean you get less fat with the Cheddar. Turns out butterfat is measured by dry weight. Brie is so liquidy and goopy, while Cheddar is dry and crumbly. So, if you theoretically dried out a Brie, say in a food dehydrator, it would really shrink in volume, so ultimately you would have 40% butterfat on just a few ounces, while the Cheddar wouldn't shrink much at all, and even though it is only 25% butterfat, you have a lot more left to eat. 40% of 2 ounces is a lot less overall fat at the end of the day than 25% of 8 ounces, say. (I'm not 100% sure on the volumes, etc., but I hope you get the principal. ) So eat that Brie! Or eat the Cheddar. The most important rule is to eat what you like! Just don't eat the whole wheel of cheese in one sitting. By yourself.

And on the topic of butterfat, there is an argument that double and triple creme cheeses aren't cheeses at all because additional cream is added to the process. I say, it's a darn good cheese! What else would I call it? Anyway, a triple cream has to be at least 75% butterfat, which ends up being 40% overall. A decadent treat, to be sure! Try a delicious St. Andre Triple Creme and you'll be hooked!

All of this got me thinking about how cows make butterfat. I'm still trying to figure it out. This website wasn't all that helpful to the non-dairy farmer, but it did give me a few clues. Mostly, a cow's butterfat is directly related to the tasty freshness of what they eat for lunch. Eat grass in the mountains of France, and your butterfat will be higher than if you eat hay and "silage." I've also heard that the more the cows walk around, the richer the milk - something about the enzymes being released during exercise. More on this topic later when I figure it out. The science of all this just fascinates me, and I hope you are at least a little interested!

Sweet dreams of goopy, healthy cheese!

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