Understanding the Dairy Case: Meet Your Cheeses

  • Article
  • October 30, 2014

One of the joys of grocery shopping can be the wide variety of foods and flavors available. This means that we can all choose the foods that work best for our various health needs, budgets – and, of course – tastes.

One food that comes in many varieties is cheese. If you’ve ever wondered what the different terms and words mean on its packaging, allow us to loop you in. Here’s a quick peek at some of the most popular terms:

Natural Cheese: This term describes cheese made from milk that may have had salt, enzymes and flavorings added. This happens by adding a starter culture to milk, which can change its flavor and texture. The cheese may or may not be aged. Often it comes in blocks, slices, cubes or shredded.

Pasteurized Process Cheese: Cheese companies make processed cheese by heating one or more natural cheeses together. One of the most popular types of processed cheese is “American Cheese” singles, which people love for their smooth, mild flavor.

Pasteurized Process Cheese Food: Cheese companies make processed cheese foods by blending one or more natural cheeses along with other dairy foods like cream, milk or whey. At least 51 percent of the cheese food must be cheese.

Processed Cheese Product: Cheese companies use milk, salt, cultures and natural enzymes as ingredients – just like cheese – but they don’t go through the traditional cheese making process.

Pasteurized Process Cheese Spread: Cheese spreads are similar to pasteurized process cheeses, except that an edible stabilizer and moisture are added so it can spread smoothly at room temperature.

In addition, you may also find other items like “sandwich slices” in your dairy case. While these foods may mimic cheese and may contain limited amounts of dairy, they won’t melt or taste like cheeses.