Prateek Mittal sheds light on what sets natural cheese apart from its processed counterpart
The fresh cheese industry in India is relatively new but rapidly growing due to the ever-increasing demand over the last half decade. As people travel the world, they are exposed to a multitude of cultures and cuisines using a myriad of fresh and natural cheeses in a variety of dishes.
From appetisers to main courses to desserts, there is a type of fresh cheese for every course and snack. As people become aware of this variety and quality, the demand for natural cheese grows. This demand has increased steeply post the pandemic as more people turned to home cooking not just as a necessity but also as a recreational activity. This has resulted in the want to experiment in the kitchen to come up with more than the usual Indian fare.
People are putting together meals that are either more global in nature and comprise of fresh ingredients paired with fresh cheese and bread, or fusion where it is an eclectic mix of Indian items. Papdi chaat with Burrata instead of yogurt is a prime example of this interest in Indo-European cuisine. The cheese industry has seen this surge in demand as consumers are interested in fresh and natural cheese. They are flocking to gourmet food stores across the country. However, this interest is not limited to the individual level. One can see an increase in the number of Indian restaurants that are using cheese in interesting and innovative ways.
Be it burrata dal makhani, a kulcha topped with stracciatella, or bocconcini pakodas. Fresh cheese has become a regular refrigerator item that can be stored and consumed anytime. As we move with the times and people are more drawn to inclusion of worldly cuisines in their everyday diets, this involvement of fresh cheese as an everyday diet feature will only increase.
It is worth noting that this rush towards natural cheese in not because of lack of cheese in the market. It is because people have begun to appreciate the difference between fresh and natural cheese as opposed to processed cheeses.
Most processed cheese is not made entirely with full fat milk. The milk usually used has high-water content and is doused with preservatives, powders, food gums, vegetable oil etc. This is done in an effort to increase the shelf life of the product while decreasing the production costs involved. As a result, most of the processed cheese widely available in the market is partly natural cheese combined with additives, artificial ingredients, and large amounts of salt.
In stark contrast, fresh and natural cheeses are quite technique oriented and carefully crafted. They are made using natural milk fats with no extra additives. They get their unique flavour from the natural fermentation process. Thus, the main point of distinction between processed and natural cheese is in how they are crafted. Their production process sets fresh cheese apart as the more natural, healthier, and more delicious option.
Considering the key differences between processed and natural cheese as well as the consumer trends in the current climate, it really is not a surprise that more and more restaurants and cafes are opting for freshly made natural cheeses over all else.
The writer is Co-Founder, and CEO of Cremeitalia, Indian Cheese Brand