Cheese is not a very popular food here in Kenya, and its partly because it is a relatively foreign concept. Over the years, local cheese production has increased, and the item is available in supermarkets alongside imports from Europe and elsewhere around the world.
By definition, cheese is a food derived from milk. It is produced in a wide range of flavours, textures, and forms by coagulation of the milk protein and fat from milk, usually of cows, goats, buffalo and sheep. During production, the milk is usually acidified, and adding the enzyme, rennet, causing the coagulation. The solids are then separated and pressed into final form.
Cheese is valued for its portability, long life, and high content of fat, protein, calcium and phosphorus. Cheese is more compact and has a longer shelf life than milk, although how long a cheese will keep may depend on the type.
Labels on packets of cheese often claim that a cheese should be consumed within three to five days of opening. Generally speaking, hard cheeses last longer than soft cheeses, such as brie or goat’s milk cheese.
CHEESE TYPES COMMON IN KENYA
Fresh Chees: These are rarely or barely aged, have no rind, and are typically moist and mild, the exception being feta and fresh goat cheese, which are tart and tangy. Examples include marscapone, ricotta, mozzarella, creme fraîche.
Soft-Ripened: A cheese that is soft-ripened has mould added to the milk or sprayed over the wheel of cheese. This mold creates the rind and also helps the cheese ripen from the outside in. Examples include, camembert and brie.
Natural Rind Cheese: During the ripening process, natural rind cheeses are mostly left alone to create their own rind. This happens simply by letting air slowly harden the outer layer of the cheese. Examples include, gouda, cheddar and Edam.
Blue Cheese: It’s easy to identify, due to the bluish-green veins running through it. The unique look of blue cheese and bold flavour comes from a specific type of mold added during the cheese-making process.
Processed Cheese: The whole point of processed cheese is to mass produce the product with a predictable (some might say bland) flavour using inexpensive ingredients. Most types of cheese sold in supermarkets are processed.
Some types of cheese are made in large quantities in factories, but the cheese makers are using high-quality ingredients. They rely mostly on milk, starter cultures and rennet, just like artisanal small-batch cheese makers do. The real indicator of processed cheese is what it’s made out of. Check the ingredient label for hydrogenated oils, additives, preservatives and artificial flavors.
When it comes to consumption, it is widely advised that cheeses be allowed to warm up to room temperature before eating for improvement in flavour and texture. At refrigerator temperatures, the fat in a piece of cheese is as hard as unsoftened butter and its protein structure is stiff as well. Flavour and odour compounds are less easily liberated when cold.
Feta, Cucumber, Avocado and Tomato Salad Recipe:
This salad is a nice change from lettuce salad as the fresh flavours are perfect on a hot afternoon. You can also drizzle a little olive oil on the salad if you like, but with the addition of Feta, you don’t really need it.
Experiment with other cheeses besides Feta. Goat cheese and blue cheese might also work well.
This recipe serves two but should you need more, simply add more of the vegetables to feed more.
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 tomato, cut into 8 wedges
- 1 cucumber, cut into chunky rounds
- 1/2 packet Feta Cheese, crumbled
Toss sliced vegetables in a bowl. Add cheese. Salt and Pepper to taste. Serve chilled.