Cheese is a fascinating food. It’s a complex product, it’s versatile and delicious, and it’s timeless. Cheese also ties in very strongly to Chanukah.
In fact, in the time of the Greeks, Yehudit played a key role in the victory of Chanukah because she was able to neutralize the fearsome Greek general of the opposing forces in quick order. How did Yehudit accomplish this? She fed cheese to the general to make him thirsty, then gave him a flask of wine to drink, which made him incapacitated, ultimately leading to his downfall. Yehudit therefore was able to score a strategic victory and helped put a quick end to the awful war against the Jews.
Because of Yehudit’s heroic actions, it’s a special custom to eat cheese or cheese-containing food items on Chanukah. If you’re adventurous, try ricotta latkes or cheesecake donuts. Other options are Greek salad, grilled cheese, or pizza.
The process for making cheese is simple: Milk is pumped into the vats where it is slowly heated and stirred for many hours (for artisan cheese, it’s often from sunrise to sunset), and at some point rennet or starter is added, after which the milk slowly develops. Eventually, the milk separates into curds and whey (aka cottage cheese), the whey is drained off, the curds are salted or flavored, then the curds are packed into metal crates and set overnight into blocks or wheels before being moved on to further developing stages.
Some interesting facts:
1.) The world champion at 2017’s World Cheese Awards was England’s “Cornish Kern,” a 16-month-old, dense cow’s milk cheese encased in a waxen black rind. (Kern means “round.”)
2.) Someone who loves cheese (like, a lot) is called a turophile.
3.) In the U.S., there are laws against cheesemakers selling raw milk cheeses that are less than two months old.
4.) Cheese boasts a rich nutritional profile, with a significant amount of protein, calcium, zinc, phosphorous, and Vitamins A and B12.
5.) The rarest type of cheese in the world is called Caciocavallo Podolico. (Don’t ask me to pronounce that.)
6.) The country with the largest quantity of cheese is Germany — it exports nearly $4 billion worth of cheese annually!
7.) The largest wheel of cheese in the world was a reported 20,462 pounds (according to vinepair.com), housed in a refrigerated kiosk near Berlin, Ohio. This only lasted until sometime in the 1990s when an unknown person accidentally unplugged the unit, causing the cheese to perish.
If you want to know what really authentic kosher cheese tastes like, try Le Fromagerie Exquisite. (Of course we like to think our brand is the best!) Our cheese is the longest-aged artisanal kosher cheese available commercially in the U.S. It is aged for over four years, made with raw cow’s milk, and comes in a variety of flavors. Go check out Shalom’s Kosher Market at the Kemp Mill Shopping Center in Silver Sping or visit www.artisankosherfoods.com for some amazing, well-aged kosher cheese this Chanukah!
By Chana Yagod
Chana Yagod is the Marketing and Sales Manager, and Customer Service Rep for Le Fromagerie Exquisite (LFE). Chana is fresh to the business loves the work, and is excited by the opportunity to get this unique cheese to the market and accessible to as many regions as possible.