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Swiss cheese is a natural cheese made by adding a bacterial starter culture to milk. When the cheese is aged or ripened, this starter culture – responsible for the cheese’s unique sweet, nutty flavor – produces carbon dioxide gas, forming the holes or “eyes” characteristic of Swiss cheese. There is no heating step after ripening, which would kill the starter culture. It is always present in the cheese.
Some carbon dioxide continues to be produced by the starter culture after ripening, sometimes causing the sealed packages to swell or "puff.” In fact, this is an indication that the package has good seal integrity. If the cheese is stored at or below 40°F, very small amounts of gas are produced. Warmer temperatures accelerate the production of this gas.
Puffing of sealed packages of Swiss cheese does not indicate spoilage. The cheese is safe to eat and the quality is not affected. The characteristic Swiss flavor and odor will be enhanced because the cheese has undergone additional ripening.
Cheese should be refrigerated at temperatures of 35-40°F in the original wrapping until ready to use. Store the cheese out of any airflow in the refrigerator as to avoid picking up flavors from other foods.
Once opened, rewrap cheese with plastic wrap or foil. For the freshest, best-tasting cheese, rewrap with new plastic wrap or foil each time it is opened.
The flavor of cheese is best when eaten at room temperature, so remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes in advance of serving time.
Bring out the best flavor in a Swiss cheese by using the following pairings:
• Fruit: Create a deliciously healthy summer snack by serving fresh Swiss cheese with apples, pears, strawberries and red or green grapes.
• Deli Meat: Classic Swiss sandwiches include Swiss and Ham, Swiss and Corned Beef and, of course, the Reuben (Swiss and corned beef with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing). To take a delectably different route, pair the cheese with prosciutto, pastrami, salami or bratwurst.
• Beverages: For a savory, refreshing bite, try cranberry-raspberry juice or tomato juice when serving Swiss.
• Condiments: Top it all off with specialty mustards, horseradish, cashews and black or green olives for a zesty twist!
Courtesy of Alpine Lace® Deli Cheese
Visit www.alpinelace.com for delicious recipes and tips for healthier lifestyles.
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