Wisconsin Cheese is a collective term that refers to cheeses sold in Texas produced from Wisconsin. It includes those made in Plymouth, “known as the Cheese Factory Capital of the World.”
Wisconsin Cheese Trivia
- Wisconsin cheese and cheesemakers took the spotlight in North Texas as part of promoting Super Bowl XLV. According to an online article, “grocers in Dallas and Fort Worth are featuring Wisconsin cheese as the ideal Super Bowl snack in Texas-sized promotions courtesy of the Madison-based Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB).”
- Martin Hintz and Pam Percy, in the book Wisconsin Cheese: A Cookbook and Guide to the Cheeses of Wisconsin, wrote about how a Green County (a county in Wisconsin) cheese company “serves loyal customers from as far away as the East Coast and Texas who’ve learned about it via word-of-mouth.”
- “Everything is bigger in Texas” has become a promise by Texas and Texans, and when it comes to Wisconsin cheese, one business owner is confident that Texas businesses selling Wisconsin Cheese are very capable of handling and managing big cheese orders. James Norton and Becca Dilley, in the book The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin, wrote about something Kerry Henning (of Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese) said. “When a store orders a big wheel of cheese, I’m always a little afraid: are they going to be able to handle this? Making a wheel of cheese that big is a tall order, but moving, cutting, wrapping, and selling a wheel that big is an even bigger feat. But when Central Market ordered a twelve-thousand-pound wheel, I thought, ‘OK, these guys will be ok with it. They know how to deal with it. Their employees are trained…it’ll be a lot more work, but they can handle it.” Central Market is a grocery store in Texas.
- In 1929, the North Platte Valley Cooperative Cheese Company from Nebraska requested to cancel joint commodity rates on cheese as a result of its competition with Wisconsin cheese brought to states including Texas. According to the Interstate Commerce Commission Reports: Decisions of the Interstate Commerce Commission of the United States, Volume 160 published in 1930, “The North Platte Valley Cooperative Cheese Company ships a large portion of the cheese manufactured by it to points in Oklahoma and Texas, where it meets competition from Wisconsin cheese manufacturers.”
Wisconsin Cheese Buying Guide
Wisconsin Cheese is very popular all around the world. This is why you can find a Wisconsin Cheese in your local supermarket or grocery store. Because of e-commerce, you also have the option of ordering a particular kind of Wisconsin Cheese, and there are many online stores that offer the option of ordering online.
You can buy Wisconsin cheese in Texas. You’d also find the food served in Texas to contain Wisconsin cheese.
Mike Cortez, in the book Beer Lover’s Texas: Best Breweries, Brewpubs & Beer Bars, explains how Wisconsin cheese is important for Haymaker, a business located in Austin. “The house specialty is a large plate of poutine, which is a popular Canadian dish consisting of fries, brown gravy, and Wisconsin cheese curds.”
When buying Wisconsin cheese in Texas, check the label or ask the attendant if they have Wisconsin cheese for sale. If you want to be sure that what you bought is genuine Wisconsin cheese, contact the manufacturer.
Wisconsin Cheese Production & Farming in Texas
While there are excellent Texas-made cheeses, Wisconsin Cheese, as the name indicates, is from Wisconsin.
A 1911 record of cheese shipment from Wisconsin to other US states shows that Texas was third in terms of which state received the most supply of cheese from Wisconsin. Illinois was first and Missouri was second. This is according to a 1913 book entitled The Marketing of Wisconsin Cheese: Prepared for the State Board of Public Affairs by Henry Charles Taylor.
There are many stores in Texas that sell a variety of Wisconsin cheeses, like Wisconsin’s Finest, located in Plano, Texas; Widmer’s Cheese Cellars in various locations in Texas (Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Tyler); and Uplands Cheese in three locations in Texas (Austin, Houston, and San Antonio).
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals
There are many types of Wisconsin cheeses, and there are many different ways of producing different types of Wisconsin cheeses to achieve a certain appearance, taste, and texture. This is why one or several of these additives may be found in a Wisconsin cheese.
- Agar agar powder – This gives vegan cheeses the same texture found in dairy cheese.
- Antibiotics – Used in the production of the dairy ingredients used in making cheese.
- Artificial food color
- Artificial flavor
- Artificial or industrial ingredients
- Artificial preservatives
- Calcium chloride – This additive is used for texture, to improve the firmness of the curd.
- Citric acid – This additive is used to acidify the milk and coagulate the curds. Citric acid may be genetically engineered or derived from genetically engineered crops.
- Dioxin – According to a Reuters news article, “Dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs are mainly by-products of industrial activities and can accumulate in the food chain, notably in fatty fish, cheese, eggs, and farmed meat.”
- Edible ash – This helps neutralize the pH of the cheese’s rind to help it through a long aging process. This is commonly used on camembert, brie, Morbier, Sottocenere, and Nerina.
- Hormones are used in the production of dairy ingredients used to make cheese.
- Kosher Non-Iodinized Cheese Salt – This additive helps preserve cheese by creating a protective coating that draws out moisture from cheese as it ages.
- Lipase powder – This is used to give the cheese a delicate texture, commonly used for cheeses like(feta, blue cheese, parmesan, and provolone.
- Liquid smoke – This is used to add a smoky flavor to the cheese. This is commonly used in cheddar, gouda, provolone, pepper jack, and mozzarella cheese.
- Natamycin – This additive inhibits mold growth on cheese.
- Nutritional Yeast – This is used to improve the flavor and texture of vegan cheeses.
- Tapioca starch – This additive helps make vegan cheese melt and stretch the way dairy cheese does.
- Tartaric acid – This additive is necessary especially to make mascarpone cheese.
Wisconsin cheese is the pride of the state of Wisconsin. Plymouth is considered the center of cheese-making in Wisconsin, where many kinds of Wisconsin cheese sent to other parts of the US like Texas are made.
But producing and distributing Wisconsin cheeses are not limited to Plymouth. Other places in Wisconsin are just as important, like Monroe, Seymour, Green Bay, Blue Mounds, La Valle, Columbus, Ellsworth, and Mineral Point, among others.
Cheese packaging is meant to protect the cheese during storage, transport, and display in stores. It also provides protection once the cheese has been purchased and stored at home.
Choosing the right packaging for a specific kind of cheese depends on whether or not it is useful when it comes to factors that affect the quality of the cheese while on display or in storage. Some considerations include general protection, protection or exposure from water vapor, light, and oxygen, prevention of the onset of molds, prevention of moisture loss, helping improve the appearance of cheese, protection against micro-organisms and other kinds of contaminants, and other considerations.
Different kinds of Wisconsin cheeses require different kinds of packaging. Different kinds of cheese packaging include wrappers, cartons, bags, tubes, tubs, jars, cans, etc. Paper (coated or lined), cloth, parchment, aluminum foil, polythene, propylene, treated cellulose, and cellulose acetate (e.g. cellophane), polystyrene, polyester, polyamide (nylon), rubber hydrochloride, Saran (a mixed polymer), and laminates are used as wrapper for cheese. A Wisconsin cheese could be in any of these packagings when you see it on display in the store.
- Barrier shrink bags – This is commonly used as packaging for a chunk or block of cheese.
- Box with film liners – This is used for the packaging of big cheeses that could weigh as heavy as 640 pounds.
- Cushion pack
- Doypack sachets (reclosable pillow bag or stand-up sachet)
- Flow pack
- Glass jar/container – This is used for spreadable cheese.
- Horizontal or vertical sealed multibarrier thermoforming film – This is used for diced cheese, shredded cheese, string cheese (horizontal pack), chunks or blocks of cheese, and sliced cheese.
- Plastic cup/container – This is used for spreadable cheese and shredded cheese.
- Recyclable paper-based wrap – This is used for sliced cheese and cheese sticks.
- Round tub
- Semi-rigid films – This is used for the packaging of chunks or blocks of cheese, and sliced cheeses.
- Shrink lidding is ideal for sliced cheese
- Single-serving vacuum tubs
- Square bottom bag or stand-up pouch – Shredded cheese is usually sold in this kind of packaging. Pouches made of polyamide, polyethylene, and other protective materials provide a barrier against oxygen ingress and moisture loss. Vacuum pouches are used for big cheese including those that weigh 40 lbs.
- Thermoformed tray
- Thermoforming film (peelable, easy-peel, reclosable top) – This is used for chunks or blocks of cheese and sliced cheese.
- Tin with reclosable lid
- Tray with film cover and gas/oxygen barrier / Thermoformed plastic trays – This is used for sliced cheeses.
- Vacuum packaging – This is ideal for a chunk or block of cheese and sliced cheeses.
Cheese packaging meant to give the cheese optimal shelf life involves the use of various packaging materials.
It is common to find cheese in packaging made of Al-foil/paper laminates, cellophane/paper combinations, etc. Cheddar cheese packaging comes in different types of plastic film laminates. Cheddar is packed using carbon dioxide permeable material to remedy the problem of gas production of cheddar during maturation. Pukkafilm, a waxed cellulose laminate, is another type of packaging for cheese.
Faster and cost-effective packaging of cheese calls for the use of Modified Atmosphere Packaging.
A heat shrink bag is an alternative approach for the packaging of a loaf or block of cheese.
Gouda, Edam, and other related types of cheeses are plasticized twice after brining stage to deter the growth of mold during the ripening period, over and over again depending on how long the cheese will be in storage. When it leaves the storage to be transported to a location where it will be sold, the cheese is washed, dried, and coated with paraffin wax, followed by red cellophane film wrapping.
A thin cardboard box is an optimal component of cheese, used to help improve shelf display, storage, and presentation. The final part of cheese packaging is storing cheese in specially-designed pallets.
Different bacteria and mold flora and mold formation as it applies to different kinds of soft cheeses (Camembert, blue-veined cheese like Roquefort, or smeared cheese like Munster) require different packaging materials to find one which is suitable.
Al (foil or strips), metalized plastics, or O2–resistant layers made by combining polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVAL), or polyvinyl alcohol (PVAL), is used in making cheese packaging designed to avoid the diffusion of oxygen. This is important for packed fresh cheese with a long shelf-life.
Add carbon black or brown pigments (as inner sheets) in aluminum lids or deep-drawn containers to provide the cheese with protection against light.
Vacuum metalized plastic films like polyethylene terephthalate polyester (PETP), oriented polypropylene (OPP), cellophane, or paper can match the outstanding barrier property of aluminum with regard to cheese packaging.
Enjoying Wisconsin Cheeses
Cheese is delicious. If you love eating cheese, Wisconsin cheese is a great choice in terms of taste and overall quality. It is good to have cheese as part of your regular diet because there are many health benefits to eating cheese. You can eat cheese anytime – in fact, you have been eating cheese at different parts of the day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks in between – chances are, your favorite or common go-to food every time you eat contains cheese.
But there are also certain situations wherein eating cheese or food that has cheese in it is not ideal for a person. For example, if you are lactose intolerant, you should stay awake from eating cheese and dairy and avoid eating cheese or any food that has cheese in it.
Is there such a thing as milk allergy? Yes, there is. And if you have one, it is best that you avoid cheese and consult your doctor first regarding eating cheese.
People with cardiovascular disease or high cholesterol should avoid whole milk, which is high in saturated fat.
If you like to eat cheese and it is part of your everyday diet, make sure to stop buying and consuming cheese if there is an alert about cheese contamination that affects your area. Listeria contamination in cheese is one of the common types of contamination affecting cheese. This is a problem especially for specific kinds of cheeses, like brie, camembert, queso fresco, queso blanco, queso panela, blue-veined cheese, and feta.
For safety and health reasons, pregnant women, babies and children, older adults, and people with immune deficiencies should eat cheese made from pasteurized milk only.
When eating Wisconsin cheese, consider the fact that some types of Wisconsin cheese are high in calories, saturated fat, and salt compared to others. These qualities in cheese are not good especially if you eat a lot of cheese every day, so don’t overindulge in cheeses; just like everything else, consume cheese in moderation.
Cheese – even Wisconsin cheese – is low in fiber. Too much cheese and little to no intake of food rich in fiber will result in constipation.
There are many different types of cheeses so the storage methods and times will vary with the different types. Here are some general rules that can be applied to almost all types of cheese.
- Never use cling film – While it may sound like a good idea, cling film actually suffocates the flavor of the cheese. The cheese will also absorb the taste of the plastic.
- Not too tight, not too loose, just right – Cheese needs to breathe. Don’t wrap it too tight as this will make the cheese absorb the taste of the packing material. Don’t wrap it too loose as this will expose a lot of the surface to air which will dry out the surface of the cheese.
- Wax paper or parchment paper works – Almost everyone has some wax paper or parchment paper in their kitchen drawers. It is best to wrap the cheese with wax paper before wrapping it in plastic. This creates two layers of protection. The wax paper forms a barrier against the plastic so that the cheese won’t absorb the plastic taste, and the plastic keeps the air out and retains moisture.
- Replace the paper often – Every time you take a piece of cheese, try to replace the wax paper wrap every time you unwrap the cheese. This is to keep your cheese tasting fresh.
- For more complex cheeses with brine and ultra-soft cheeses, try to keep them in their original containers and replace the brine once they start to smell too cheesy.
- Don’t buy too much – Cheese doesn’t survive too well in home fridges, just buy enough for you to finish within one or two weeks.
There are more “advanced” storage methods for cheese which may differ for every variant. Ask your local cheesemaker or cheese merchant for more information.
Cheese is used in making many popular foods, and Wisconsin cheese goes well with many different kinds of vegetables, fruits, meats, herbs and spices, jams, jellies, preserves, etc. Use Wisconsin cheese to make pizzas, cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, chicken parmesan, and other popular dishes. You can also use Wisconsin cheese to make your favorite pasta, lasagna, penne, or carbonara dishes. Love bread? Use Wisconsin cheese to make pot pies, rolls, toasts, canapes, crostini, herbed flatbread, scones, panini, roll-ups, and many more. Do you want to eat just cheese or cheese-based food? Use Wisconsin cheese to make bake brie, grilled camembert with macerated cherries and rosemary, marinated goat cheese or feta, goat cheese and bacon on peppers, cheese balls, cheese poppers, cheese truffles, cheese puffs, cheese pinwheels, cheese sticks, cheese crisps, or cheese waffles. Cheese is a prominent component of many Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes enjoyed all over the United States, so you can use Wisconsin cheese for your homemade tacos, fajitas, and enchiladas.
Use Wisconsin cheese to make the Greek appetizer saganaki or fried cheese, or aligot, the mashed-potato-overloaded-with-cheese dish from the L’Aubrac region in the southern Massif in France. Use cream cheese to make your scrambled eggs. Explore the many ways you can use your Wisconsin cheese in cooking. Make a casserole with sausages, broccoli, and quinoa; use it for baked potatoes and mashed potatoes; make dips and sauces; add flavor and texture to your fresh green salad using Wisconsin cheese. Use it in deviled eggs and nachos. Make soups and broths (like parmesan broth made with parmesan rinds).
Cooking (and eating) tip: add flavor to your Wisconsin cheese by marinating it in olive oil and spices.
You can also use Wisconsin cheese to make cheese fondue.
Cheese is very nutritious. It has calcium, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and zinc. What are the ways cheese helps the body? There are many ways – cheese helps keep the teeth cavity-free. It helps keep obesity and heart problems away. It helps manage and reduce inflammation. Cheese can help prevent osteoporosis, help you build muscles, and help improve the thyroid and the immune system. If you are underweight, cheese can help you gain weight.