The best French cheeses should be tasted at room temperature, and taken out of the refrigerator well before eating. This ensures that its taste can be fully enjoyed on the palate. But behind the perfect temperature for serving, cooking or preserving a cheese, there’s also an art – and a long history –that differs according to a cheese’s variety and origin. How cheeses behave when faced with heat is a factor that all chefs and passionate foodies consider: the temperature at which a cheese melts is based on scientific facts, and depends on their level of humidity, amount of milk protein and fat content. Among the most popular European varieties – and Europe is still the world champion of cheese – temperatures must be applied in various ways, according to type: for example, a Camembert melts at 40°C (104 F), a Parmigiano at 70°C (158 F), a Mozzarella at 50°C (122 F), and so on.
The state of Wisconsin, it’s a place that’s been known for its cheese production since the early 1800s, when Anne Pickett opened the first cheese-making factory. The tradition flourished thanks to the large number of immigrants from Western Europe, where soft and hard cheeses are still a major industry. The state boasts the highest number – 129 – of cheese factories in the country, with more than 12 thousand cheese makers of varying sizes and dimensions. But Wisconsin’s fields and terrain are very similar to those found in Europe, and today there are more than a million milk-producing cattle whose product goes directly into the production of cheese.
Among the best Wisconsin cheeses there are some truly excellent varieties of European origin like Swiss, gruyere, provolone, and blue cheese. But there’s a company producing cheeses that has begun to use its products in an unconventional manner, and while chefs may experiment with heat applied in small increments, this company has been studying techniques and strategies for cheese-making that is good for both the environment and the economy: how to use the least possible energy during the production process? Their search has lead them to a way of using the leftover waste of cheese to produce new energy that helps them run the very same machines which produce new cheeses, ready to package and sell.
The company is called GreenWhey, and it was founded by a group of Wisconsin cheese-makers who were looking for a way to re-use the water necessary for the production of dairy products, as local laws banned them from using it to fertilize the surrounding land. The question of reusing resources helped found the Turtle Lake plant in Wisconsin , whose primary concern was the re-purposing of their waste water. Eventually, they managed to create a new kind of biogas, which could be used to re-purify the water, generate heat and also functions as a kind of super-fertilizer for the nearby farmlands. Thanks to the heat generated by the cheese-making industry, this biogas alone has the power to illuminate 3 thousand homes in the area. At least two cheese making companies in Wisconsin will be able to substitute their non-renewable energy with this new renewable energy source, and run entirely on this new kind of power. And thus a new kind of production was born – beginning, being powered by, and ultimately producing cheese.