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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Mozzarella Cheese
© 2009 Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.
General Questions
What is the nutritional value of Henning's cheese?
Click here for a complete list of nutrition facts and ingredients for Henning's Cheeses.

What are the ingredients of Henning's cheese?
Click here for a complete list of nutrition facts and ingredients for Henning's Cheeses.

Does Henning's Cheese make donations?
Yes, donation requests will be considered for events in Eastern Wisconsin. To be considered, please fill out and return the donation request form at least 30 days prior to your event.

What could I serve with Henning's Cheese?
Download our Cheese Pairings Brochure for some ideas of food, beer and wine that pair well with our most popular cheeses.

What Enzymes does Henning's Cheese use?
CHY-MAX is fermentation produced chymosin. It is identical to calf chymosin.

What Color does Henning's Cheese Use?
Annatto - a natural vegetable color.

Is Henning's Cheese Kosher?
Most ingredients Henning's adds to their milk are Kosher. Please read the label to see which items contain Kosher ingredients. Stores that cut our kosher ingredient cheeses may not be Kosher approved. Ask a store representative before purchasing. Click here for more details and a complete list of our Kosher cheeses: Kosher Cheese List

Is Henning's Cheese rBGH or hormone free?
Yes, Henning's Cheese uses milk that is from cows not treated with rBGH. No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBGH-treated and no-rBGH treated cows. For more read about rBST below.

Is Henning's Cheese gluten free?
Yes. Gluten is a protein composite that appears in foods processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye. None of the cheeses manufactured by Henning's are processed in this way.

Is Henning's Cheese antibiotic free?
Yes, Henning's Cheese tests each load of milk that enters their facility, if antibiotics are found the load of milk is rejected and is disposed of.

Which cheeses are hard and which are soft?
Hard - Asiago, Bellavitano, Parmesan
Semi Hard - Baby Swiss, Cheddar, Edam, Gouda, Romano, Swiss, Montamore
Semi Soft - Brick, Colby, Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Habanero Jack, Farmers, Fontina, Havarti, Limburger, Muenster
Soft & Fresh - Feta, Juusto
Pasta Filata - Mozzarella, Provolone, String
Processes/Cold Pack - Cheese Spreads, Smoked Cheddar, Smoked Swiss, Dairy Fudge, Processed Bacon, Processed Salami, Sliced American
Blue - Blue

Cheese Handling Questions
How should cheese be stored?
Cheese should be refrigerated at temperatures of 35 to 40 degrees F in the original wrapping until ready to use. It is best stored in the refrigerator as close to the bottom of the appliance as possible - the vegetable compartment is ideal. Once the cheese is exposed to air, mold and dehydration may occur. To protect the cheese from mold, always work with it in a clean area. Strong-smelling cheeses like Limburger should be well-wrapped and kept in a separate container to prevent odors from transferring to other foods.

How long is it safe to keep cheese?
Soft cheeses should be eaten soon after purchasing. As a general rule, the harder the cheese, the longer it will remain fresh. But remember, natural cheese will continue to ripen, no matter how carefully it is stored. Hard cheeses will generally keep for several months, whereas softer cheese will keep from one to three weeks after opening, if stored in an airtight container. In addition, large pieces of cheese tend to keep longer that shredded cheeses.

Processed cheese slices are best if used within six months when stored in the original package at a constant 32 degrees F. Opened packages rewrapped tightly and stored between 30 degrees F and 40 degrees F are best if used within three to four weeks. Cheese suffers enormously from being frozen so avoid freezing cheese if at all possible. Frozen packages opened and rewrapped tightly, and stored a 0 degrees F or below, are best if used within six to eight weeks.

What does Best Used By Date mean on the packages?
The best if used by date is intended to tell you how long the product will retain best flavor and quality. The term is not a safety date. Best used by dates are intended as useful guidelines. Some foods may deteriorate more quickly while other foods may last longer than the times suggested. A number of factors can shorten the useful life of a food product, such as improper handling and inadequate storage. Food products may be consumed after the best used by date if the product has been properly stored and handled especially harder style of cheeses.

What is the best way to wrap and store Henning's prepackaged cheese?
Henning's Cheese uses a cryovac sealed bag for their package which gives their cheese a long shelf life. Once you open Henning's package, do not peel the bag farther back than what you will need. This will help with the life of the cheese and reduce the possibility of molding on the side of the package. The package is designed to remain tight to the cheese. Once the packaged is opened try to remove one slice each week to retain freshness of product. Wrap the open end of the block tightly with wax paper or aluminum foil.

If you have purchased cheese that is overwrapped by a store you can re wrap it in aluminum foil or waxed paper (waxed paper being the best of the two), when you get home, this will allow the cheese to breathe and to further develop without drying out.

Once you've unwrapped a cheese stored in the refrigerator, the wrapping should be discarded and the cheese should be put in a new wrapping. Reused materials won't reseal properly

Is wrapping cheese in plastic safe?
If you wrap your cheese in plastic wrap realize that it is a petroleum product and after a period of time the cheese will absorb some of the chemical aroma and flavour from the plastic. If the plastic wrap is in contact with the rind or interior of the cheese for too long, the cheese begins to suffer; it suffocates, becomes slimy-rinded, discolored. Plastic is not good for the cheese because it seals it in an air-tight environment, thus not allowing for any gasses or moisture to escape. Cheese is a living thing, and it's very important for living things to breathe. The rule of thumb is that harder cheese will last longer than softer ones, with semisoft (or semifirm) cheeses falling somewhere in between. Trim a slice from the cut surface that's been next to the plastic before cutting to remove the off flavour the plastic may cause.

How do I sanitize my counters and cheese cutting equipment naturally?
Most household cleaners contain dangerous chemicals that emit toxins and pose a threat to everyone's health. Vinegar is well known nontoxic biodegradable sanitizer as well as a cleaning agent. As a sanitizer it is effective against a broad range of bacteria, yeasts and molds, destroying or reducing these organisms to acceptable levels. Vinegar has been found to be effective as a rinse agent in reducing levels of Ecoli on various countertop surfaces. Vinegar's chemical properties make it a cleaner and sanitizer with several advantages:

• Biodegradable
• Easy to dispense and control
• Safe for stainless steel
• Less likely to leave harmful residues
• Pleasant clean odor
• Nontoxic and safe

Vinegar will also remove odors from your refrigerator that can absorb into other foods. Use vinegar alone, or, combine 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water. Place in a spray bottle or bowl for easy access.

Where Does Vinegar Come From?
Vinegar may be derived from several sources - most common are fruits and grains, such as apples and rice, but it is even made from wood and roots. You are probably familiar with vinegars made from fruit juice. The juice contains sugar that ferments into alcohol, changing the juice into wine.

What a surprise to the cook who stores a bottle of wine under the kitchen counter then opens it to find the sweet wine has turned to vinegar! That's the natural process it takes - given the right conditions, the alcohol in the wine changes to vinegar - hence, the name, "wine vinegar".

Can Henning's Cheese be kept out of refrigeration for displays?
Certain cheeses can be left out of refrigeration but please read Storage Temperatures Necessary to Maintain Cheese Safety.

My cheese arrived warm, what should I do with it?
Refrigerate the cheese upon arrival. Although the cheese may be warm, it can still be consumed.

Cheese got moldy, should I throw it away?
Mold may develop on the surface of cheese. Although most molds are harmless, to be safe, trim until the mold is removed. If the mold goes deeper - continue to trim around the mold spot until you've removed all the areas of mold. Use the remaining cheese as quickly as possible. To avoid cheese from getting moldy, try to use it within a couple of weeks after you have opened the product. You may even choose to shred the cheese once the mold is removed and put it into a zip lock bag and store in the freezer until needed for another recipe.

What are the strings that I may occasionally find on the cheese?
The strings come from cheese bandages that are on the wheels of cheese. This bandage helps bind the cheese together and helps the wax coating adhere to the wheels better. The bandage is also important for aging and gives our cheese part of its unique flavor. These strings are mostly removed when the store cuts our wheels of cheese but an occasional strands may be overlooked. Please remove these string when you find them and be assured there is no problem with the cheese - it is a natural part of a bandaged style wheel of cheese from Henning's.

What is the best way to melt cheese?
Cheese cut into small pieces or shredded promotes more even melting in a shorter amount of time. When you add cheese to any recipe, cook on low heat, stirring constantly. High heat will toughen cheese and make it stringy. When you are making a sauce with cheese in it, add cheese as the last ingredient and heat until just melted. Processed cheese melts more smoothly than natural cheese because of the amount of water added to the processed cheese.

What is the best way to microwave cheese?
Remove the cheese wrapper and place on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave at 30 percent of the desired time until the cheese reaches desired softness and/or temperature. Check every 10 seconds to prevent overheating. Cooking times will vary among microwave ovens. Use this method to prepare cheese nachos without making the cheese tough.

What is the best temperature for serving cheese?
The flavor of cheese is best when eaten at room temperature, so remove from refrigerator one to two hours in advance of serving time. Soft cheeses take a shorter amount of time to come to room temperature than firm and hard cheeses. However, it is best to set out only the amount of cheese you will eat to prevent the cheese from becoming dry and tough from being repeatedly warmed and chilled.

What is the best way to shred cheese?
Cheese will shred easier if well-chilled; it can also be placed in the freezer for 30 minutes before shredding.

Can you make cheese last longer by freezing it?
Fresh curds and Mozza Whips freeze well. If you are planning to keep them for a longer period of time, or if you order larger amounts, place small amounts in a freezer bag when freezing. Simply microwave them on defrost to enjoy warm curds and whips.

Shredded or grated cheese also freezes well.

Cheese blocks can be frozen, but we do not recommend it. A cheese block that has been frozen is best used as an ingredient. Most hard cheeses and processed cheeses can be frozen; however, there will be changes in their texture. Semi-soft cheeses will be more crumbly while softer cheese will separate slightly. The nutritional value will remain stable.

Tips for freezing cheese:
Freeze pieces of half-pound or less; Use moisture-proof and airtight wrapping; Freeze quickly and store at 0 degrees F for two to six months; Thaw in refrigerator so the cheese won't lose moisture, the slower cheese is thawed, the better; Use as soon as possible after thawing.

Cheese Making Questions
How much milk does it take to make a pound of cheese?
It takes about 10 pounds (5 quarts) of milk to make 1 pound of whole milk cheese. For our 75 pound mammoth wheel, it would take 750 pounds, or 87 gallons, and take approximately 15 cows to produce enough milk.

What are starter or "friendly" cultures?
Also called starter cultures, friendly cultures are added to milk at the start of the cheesemaking process. The cultures change the lactose or milk sugar (the only carbohydrate in milk) into lactic acid. This equalizes the pH so the milk protein will form curds when the rennet is added. The cultures used by the cheesemaker are a closely guarded secret as they contribute to the distinct qualities of each cheese. For more information about the cheesemaking process see our video

What is rennet?
Rennet is a coagulating enzyme used to curdle milk, causing clumps (curds) to form and separate from the liquid (whey). Rennet is added after the cultures and is also integral to the final flavor of the cheese. Until recently, rennet was derived from the stomach lining of a calf, goat or lamb. Now, many cheesemakers use vegetable rennet (derived from plants) or microbial rennet. In addition to being less expensive than traditional animal rennet, vegetable and microbial rennet allow cheesemakers to craft cheeses suitable for vegetarians. Henning's uses CHY-MAX™ rennet for their cheese. For more information about the cheesemaking process please view the video on our home page.

The following is part of an article provided by CHR HANSEN Laboratory who is a leading provider to the dairy industry:

Coagulants overview:
The use of coagulants in making cheese goes back thousands of years. It was not until 1874 that Chr. Hansen's laboratories offered standardized commercial product for commercial use in the dairy industry. Calf rennet was widely used by the cheese industry, and because of its high chymosin level, it had very specific activity and quality. However, the supply of animal rennet was limited by the supply of calf stomachs creating wide swings in supply and price. The volatility of the supply and price of calf chymosin encouraged efforts to develop alternatives, such as fermentation produced chymosin and microbial coagulants.

What type of rennet does Henning's Cheese use?
Henning's Cheese uses CHY-MAX™ for their rennet. CHY-MAX™ is produced with modern biotechnology; it is produced by fermentation with a microorganism that has received genetic material to produce bovine chymosin, but CHY-MAX™ as such is not genetically modified. The chymosin in CHY-MAX™ is a natural enzyme, it is just produced by fermentation instead of extraction from animal tissue.

Is the rennet used by Henning's Cheese suitable for Vegetarians?
Henning's Cheese uses a non animal rennet called CHY-MAX™ as part of their cheese making process which ensures that the highest quality ingredients are always a part of the Henning tradition. Chy-Max is a standardized solution of 100% fermentation produced chymosin - a milk clotting enzyme and is suitable for consumption by vegetarians.

Coagulants overview:
The use of coagulants in making cheese goes back thousands of years. It was not until 1874 that Chr. Hansen's laboratories offered standardized commercial product for commercial use in the dairy industry. Calf rennet was widely used by the cheese industry, and because of its high chymosin level, it had very specific activity and quality. However, the supply of animal rennet was limited by the supply of calf stomachs creating wide swings in supply and price. The volatility of the supply and price of calf chymosin encouraged efforts to develop alternatives, such as fermentation produced chymosin and microbial coagulants.

Advantages of CHY-MAX™
  • CHY-MAX is fermentation produced chymosin. It is identical to calf chymosin, which provides maximum cheese yields
  • CHY-MAX is produced within narrow specifications for superior consistency in activity and cheese production
  • CHY-MAX is suitable for all cheese varieties and whey end uses
  • CHY-MAX is not a GMO and contains no residual DNA or cell material from the fermentation microorganism
  • CHY-MAX is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) listed
  • CHY-MAX is approved kosher by circle K, Halal, and vegetarian.
What is annatto?
Annatto is a natural food coloring derived from the ground seed pods of the annatto tree, native to Central and South America. Cheese is naturally the color of the milk from which it is made. Some cheeses have a yellow or lightly orange hue use caused by the vitamin A that cows ingest from grazing out in lush pastures. During cold winter months, cows come in from the pastures and are fed silage (forage plants that are stored in a silo) and the cheeses that result from this milk are white. This variation persuades some cheesemakers to color their cheeses so they will look uniformly nutritious. The earliest colorings were carrot juice and marigold petals. Today, as they have for at least a century, cheesemakers add color by adding annatto.

Are the cows pasture grazed?
Henning's Cheese does not own any of their own cows but support small local family dairy farmers who continue to provide us with a source of quality milk. These farmers pride themselves by pasture grazing their cows along with feeding them a carefully balanced diet of natural grains. This combination helps provide Henning's with the type of quality milk that produces their award winning cheeses.

What kind of milk is used for making Henning's cheese?
Cheese can be made from the milk of many animals, but cheese made by Henning's is made from the milk of Jersey, Guernsey, and Holstein cows.

What is Maltodextrin?
Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide that is used as a food additive. Maltodextrin can be enzymatically derived from any starch. In the US, this starch is usually corn; in Europe, it is commonly wheat. Some individuals suffering from gluten intolerance may be concerned by the presence of wheat derived maltodextrin but it is highly unlikely to contain significant (20 mg/kg or 20ppm) amounts of gluten. If wheat is used to make maltodextrin, it does not need to appear on the label.

What is the difference between cow, goat and sheep's milk cheese?
Over 300 varieties of cow's milk cheeses are made in the United States alone, the most popular milk. Cow's milk cheese is desirable because of its varied fat content, and the wide range of cheese that can be made from it successfully. Cow's milk can be crafted into both fresh and aged cheeses, and is used for cottage cheese, triple creme, mozzarella and everything in between.

Goat's milk cheeses are known for their white color and tangy flavor. When goat's milk cheeses are aged, the tangy flavor gives way to creamy and earthy flavors. It is the most easily digested of the three milks.

Sheep's milk cheeses are the least familiar of the three throughout the United States. Those who love sheep's milk cheeses adore its nutty, earthy and sometimes gamey flavor. The color of sheep's milk cheese falls somewhere between the color of goat and cow's milk cheeses. Like goat's milk, sheep's milk is also easily digested.

What are curds and whey?
The cheesemaking process begins when the solids in milk begin to separate from the whey. The more whey a cheesemaker drains from the curds the drier the cheese will be. Watch the Henning's Cheese making video for a further look into curds and whey.

What happens to the whey after it is drained from the curds?
The manner in which whey is treated usually depends upon the size of the cheesemaking operation and how much whey it produces. Whey can be dried and made into whey powder, which can then be used in high protein drinks, infant formula and bakery products. Whey can also be used to make some cheeses including Ricotta. A smaller cheese producer who has easy access to pigs may sell the whey as pig feed.

Is cheese made from unpasteurized milk safe?
Most cheeses made in the U.S. are from pasteurized milk. If unpasteurized milk is used, government regulations require that the cheese be aged for at least 60 days before it is sold. Regulatory agencies recognize aging of cheese as equal to pasteurization for eliminating pathogenic bacteria. Safe handling and storage of cheese are key to ensuring its safety and quality. Henning's cheeses are made from pasteurized milk.

Do all cheeses have rind?
No. Some varieties, such as Brick and Colby, are ripened in plastic film or other protective coating to prevent rind formation. Colby and Cheddar may have a bandage and wax coating which needs to be removed prior to eating. Other cheese, such as Feta, are rindless because they are not allowed to ripen.

Should I eat the rind?
Whether or not to eat the rind is sometimes a matter of taste, but generally the rinds of soft cheeses can be eaten, while those of harder cheese are often unpleasant.

Do cheeses with rinds always have a strong flavor?
Not always. Washed-rind cheeses often have a strong flavor, but some are surprisingly mild.

Are there any uses for uneaten rinds?
The natural rinds of hard cheeses, especially Parmesan, are wonderful for flavoring soups and stocks. Freeze your leftover rinds in resealable bags so you always have one handy.

How is cheese part of a healthy diet?
Cheese contains a high concentration of essential nutrients, in particular high quality protein and calcium, as well as other nutrients such as phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A, riboflavin, and vitamin B12. The composition of milk used and the manufacturing process influence the nutrient content of specific cheeses. (For more information visit nationaldairycouncil.org)

Can I eat cheese if I am lactose intolerant?
Many cheeses, particularly aged cheeses such as Cheddar and Swiss, contain little or no lactose. For this reason, cheese is an important source of calcium and many other nutrients found in milk for people who have difficulty digesting lactose or milk's sugar. (For more nutritional information visit www.nationaldairycouncil.org)

Is it true that cheese is good for my teeth?
Consuming cheese immediately after meals or as a between-meal snack helps to reduce the risk of tooth decay. In particular - aged Cheddar, Swiss, blue, Monterey Jack, Brie, Gouda and processed American cheese have been shown to help prevent tooth decay. Calcium, phosphorus and other components in cheese may contribute to this beneficial effect. For more nutritional information visit nationaldairycouncil.org.

What is the difference between "natural" and "organic"?
Natural foods are minimally processed and free of artificial ingredients, preservatives and other chemicals that do not occur naturally in food. In general, natural foods are as near to their original state in nature as possible. The animals producing milk that is considered natural may be treated with antibiotics if they are ill, but they are removed from the herd until the antibiotics disappear from their milk.

Organic foods are also natural foods, but not all natural foods are organic. In 2002 the U.S. Department of Agriculture put in place a set of national standards that food labeled "organic" must meet, whether it is grown in the United States or imported from other countries. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown (or, in the case of milk, where the animals are raised) to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Organic milk comes from animals that are fed organic feed, and are raised without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones. Companies that handle or process organic food (organic cereal, for example) must also be certified in order to call their product organic.

What is rBST?
Recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), also called rBGH, is a growth hormone used to increase milk production in cows. According to a 2002 survey by the Department of Agriculture, it is used in 22 percent of the nation's dairy cows. Use of the hormone, which has been sold in the United States since 1994, is controversial because it can cause health problems in cows. Currently there is no test that can distinguish between milk from rBST treated and untreated cows; however, many health conscious consumers prefer not to consume dairy products from rBST treated cows. Controlling the source of the milk is the key to guaranteeing that dairy products do not have additional growth hormones added.

What is the crunch or hard crystals found in aged cheese?
This is Calcium lactate which is often found in aged cheeses. Small crystals of it precipitate out when lactic acid is converted into a less soluble form by the bacteria active during the ripening process.

What is the difference between Natural and Processed Cheese?
Compare and read the ingredients of the following cheeses to know what you are buying.

Natural Cheese: Ingredients: Pasteurized Cultured Milk, Salt, Annatto Color (when applicable), and Enzymes

Pasteurized Processed American "Cheese": (Cheese is the #1 ingredient; approximately 97% cheese) Ingredients: American Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Vegetable Color - if colored), Water, Cream, Sodium Citrate, Color Added, Salt, Sorbic Acid (Added as a Preservative), and Soy Lecithin (Non-Sticking agent)

Pasteurized Processed American "Cheese Food": (Cheese is the #1 ingredient. It contains a minimum of 51% cheese) Ingredients: American cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Water, Whey, Modified Whey, Skim Milk, Buttermilk, Sodium Citrate, Calcium Phosphate, Cream, Natural Flavor, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Annatto and B - APO 8 Carotenal (for color), and Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3)

Pasteurized Prepared "Cheese Product": (Because it contains a dairy ingredient that is not listed in the code of federal regulations, it is called a cheese product) Ingredients: Milk, Whey, Milkfat, Milk Protein Concentrate, Salt, Calcium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Sodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid (as a Preservative) Apocarotenal (color), Annatto (color), Enzymes, Vitamin D3, Cheese Culture, Contains Milk

American Pasteurized Processed "Sandwich Slices": (Sandwich slice...not cheese) Ingredients: Water, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Food Starch, Casein and/or Caseinate, Whey, Modified Food Starch, Salt, Natural Flavor, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Phosphate, Stabilizers (Xanthan Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Guar Gum), Sorbic Acid (as a preservative), Artificial Color, Lactic Acid

Information provided by Wisconsin Centers of Dairy Research - Volume 24
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