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What is Braided Cheese?

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  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2016
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Braided cheese is a dairy product made from strips of highly elastic cheese which are wound together to create a braid. Armenia, Italy, Syria, and many Latin American nations make varieties of braided cheese. Many markets carry braided cheese, especially those which carry an assortment of boutique cheeses. The cheese can be used in a variety of dishes or eaten plain.

Italian mozzarella, Syrian Akawi, and Latin American Asadero are all examples of braided cheese. These cheeses can be produced in a non-braided form as well, but braiding is a neat way of packaging and storing these cheeses. All of these cheeses are made through a process called “spinning,” which makes the cheese smooth and highly elastic. Spun cheeses are also extremely thready when pulled apart, like classic string cheese.

To make braided cheese, fresh milk is pasteurized to remove risk of bacterial infection. The milk is mixed with citric acid and rennet to promote the formation of curds, which are cooked and then strained through cheesecloth to separate out the whey and liquid. The curd forms a roughly solid mass in the cheesecloth, and is cut into strips before being gently warmed again to make it soft and slightly gooey. Then, the strips are pulled like taffy to create a shiny and highly elastic cheese, which is formed into tight braids.

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Typically, braided cheese is brined in salty water to cure. Braided cheese may also be smoked or mixed with other flavorings for a distinctive taste. The resulting cheese is usually best when eaten very fresh, when it has a creamy, nutty, complex flavor. The cheese braid can be gently teased apart to extract strips of cheese, or it can be used in large chunks in pastries and other dishes. The unusual shape also make it a popular inclusion in appetizer platters.

A braided rope of cheese can be quite long, or very small, in a personalized size. Many manufacturers pull their braided cheeses out of brine for sale, so they are slightly dry and salty. Others sell moist braided cheese in brine, and the cheese should be rinsed before use to help extract some of the salty flavor.

As a general rule, braided cheese has a creamy white color and a neutral to milky odor. The cheese should be firm when pressed, and should not have soft spots or areas of discoloration. Keep braided cheese under refrigeration until it is used, and re-wrap any remainder in fresh plastic to reduce the risk of contamination.

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amysamp
Post 7

This braided cheese sounds so good! I normally have a few pieces of mozzarella string cheese as a snack in between meals each day. It seems like this maybe could not be eaten as much, or at least not as much at first. I am used to most soft cheeses, with little added salt, so the braided cheese seems like it would kind of be an acquired taste type of food.

I think once I got used to the texture and saltiness, I would really enjoy it though, because I have not found a cheese I do not like as of yet. I could do what the article says, and submerged this braided cheese into water, so as to take out some of the excess salt and salty flavor. Maybe braided cheese would be excellent with something sweet, yet still nutritious, like an apple. Salty and sweet combination's are really appetizing.

aLFredo
Post 6

@geekish - I agree, braided cheese would be an easy fix for appetizers when you are entertaining, therefore leaving you more time for other host or hostess preparations.

I personally like the braided cheeses that are packaged in extra virgin olive oil, garlic & other herbs. I think that sometimes crackers can take away from the cheese taste but are necessary because of the dry thick taste of some cheeses. With the cheeses that are marinating in oil and herbs, I personally would think they would be great all by themselves without a cracker taking away from the taste.

geekish
Post 5

I love cheeses from Gouda to Cheddar, but I had not heard of braided cheese. Just as restaurants love this cheese for appetizers, I'm excited about trying this cheese for when I entertain.

It sounds as though it would be fantastically easy to serve as it would be easy for guests to cut and serve, and it is already in shape that is decorative - all I would have to do is plate and serve!

Anyone have any more favorite braided cheeses?

honeybees
Post 4

My kids love just about any kind of cheese, but string cheese is their favorite. It is so easy to have packages of string cheese for a snack just about anywhere we go.

They don't really like braided cheese though. The first time I had braided cheese I loved the slightly salty flavor and this braided cheese had been marinated with olive oil and herbs. It was really different and delicious.

If I had served it in recipe where it was melted, my kids probably would have enjoyed it. They just didn't like eating it straight out of the package like I did.

candyquilt
Post 3

@simrin-- The article already mentioned that these cheeses don't necessarily have to be in a braided shape. Any spinned cheese can be considered a braided cheese.

But I do agree with you that this name can create some confusion for people who don't how this cheese is made. When I see string mozarella, moshalala cheese and string Armenian cheese, I know right away that these are braided because I can tell from the shape. It's much harder to know when it is in cubes or blocks.

I think the best way to differentiate them would be to buy open cheese if possible and ask to taste the cheese before purchasing. The dry, texture that easily breaks apart and salty flavor generally gives braided cheeses away. A lot of international groceries offer open cheeses, so it is easy to try them there.

SteamLouis
Post 2

I didn't know that asadero is considered a braided cheese. I'm from Texas and we eat this all the time at my house. It's the best cheese for quesadillas when it's shredded. One of my favorite Mexican restaurants also uses asadero for their signature tortilla dip which is amazing.

I'm surprised it's considered a braided cheese because I've never seen it in a braided shape. It's usually sold in round blocks. It does have the same qualities that the article mentioned for braided cheese though. Asadero also melts easily and stretches out.

So is braided cheese a general name for spinned and stretched cheeses, even if it is not literally braided for its final shape?

ysmina
Post 1

I love eating braided cheese by itself. I eat it just like string cheese, it's so fun to undo the braid and pull strips of it off. It's a really yummy snack with crackers.

It's not exactly like regular string cheese though. It's actually much firmer and drier. It's not chewy like the individual string cheese I get for my kids. My kids don't like braided cheese at all. They think it's too salty and tastes funny.

I like the taste, I think it's much more complex than mozzarella string cheese. It's really an adult version of it. I like to have it with some gourmet crackers and if I've kept the braided cheese in water to remove the salt, I also like having it with olives. I have to remove the salt from the cheese first though because olives are also very salty and it's impossible to eat them together like that.

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