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The Molecular Secrets of Cream Cheese 211

Posted by Zonk
from the pandering-to-the-editors dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "The June issue of Wired Magazine carries a story about one of the two university labs in the U.S. dedicated to cream cheese research. This one is -- where else? -- in Madison, Wisconsin, where researchers are exploring the molecular mysteries of cream cheese. You may not know, but this cheese is tricky to produce because the acid-secreting bacteria used to coagulate the milk need to be killed at the right time. The researchers are now writing a guidebook about the secrets of cream cheese, a book which will be available to anyone, in a process similar to the open source movement for software. For more information, please read the entertaining article of Wired magazine, 'Schmear Campaign' or this summary to discover little-known facts about cream cheese."
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The Molecular Secrets of Cream Cheese

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  • Wonderful (Score:3, Funny)

    by kimvette (919543) on Friday June 02, 2006 @09:44PM (#15459619) Homepage Journal
    "The work is funded by federal grants," (snip other sources of funding, yes I know it's not ALL tax funded)

    I am so glad that tax dollars extorted from me are being spent on such important projects. Thanks Uncle Sam!
    • by Duhavid (677874)
      Move elsewhere?
    • by kfg (145172) on Friday June 02, 2006 @10:18PM (#15459777)
      Obviously they either need to cut funding for this project, or balance it by adding funding for a project to investigate the molecular secrets of lox.

      We cannot have a cream cheese/lox molecular secrets gap at taxpayer expense.

      KFG
    • what are you complaining about. Now if you really wanna see tax dollars pissed away, there's a US senetor who's secured $500 million to restore and promote a Civil War era submarine sunk at the bottom of a lake. Too lazy to look it up right now, but fark had the article a while back. There was no one bill he got the funding in either, it's all nice and well hidden.
      • If one wants to contribute to better cream cheese, or any other improvement in the food supply, then one can donate to a research facility. Being forced to donate to such research through taxation is not necessary to preserve the rights of the citizens of the United States, and as such is an inappropriate use of taxes. Spending $500 Million to restore a submarine is also a waste of tax dollars.
    • Re:Wonderful (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MustardMan (52102) on Friday June 02, 2006 @10:33PM (#15459838)
      Yeah, because, you know, no one ever discovered anything truly revolutionary to the scientific world while working on "mundane" things.

      What sets us apart from the apes is our drive to seek knowledge purely for the sake of knowing it. What sets the US apart from many other nations is our willingness to fund science in all its forms, whether or not a given research projects produces something whose value can be measured in dollars and cents.
      • Re:Wonderful (Score:2, Insightful)

        by 3ryon (415000)
        What sets us apart from the apes is our drive to seek knowledge purely for the sake of knowing it. What sets the US apart from many other nations is our [Historical] willingness to fund science in all its forms, whether or not a given research projects produces something whose value can be measured in dollars and cents.

        Just had to correct that little typo.
      • What sets us apart from the apes is our drive to seek knowledge purely for the sake of knowing it.

        I think Dr. Cornelius [wikipedia.org] would take exception to that remark!
      • Our willingness? You mean the willingness of politicians to spend other people's money, that was forcefully taken from them, on research? How generous...
        • No one is holding a gun to your head and "forcing" you to stay in the US. If you want to go somewhere where research isn't important and tax dollars don't fund it, be my guest. Might I suggest any one of the third world nations? Maybe there you can see what it's like to be GENUINELY forced to do something, when soldiers with guns steal the food that was given to you by the big bad evil US government.

          Oh wait, that food was funded by money stolen from the American taxpayers. Oh woe is me, I'm a poor fat A
      • What sets us apart from the apes is millions of nucleotides ;)
    • Re:Wonderful (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Friday June 02, 2006 @11:15PM (#15459993) Homepage
      I am so glad that tax dollars extorted from me are being spent on such important projects. Thanks Uncle Sam!

      Yeah, WTF? When has learning anything about organic chemistry prove useful?
      • "Yeah, WTF? When has learning anything about organic chemistry prove useful?"

        Other than the typo, that's exactly what I said to my parents after I failed Organic Chemistry last semester.
      • If people wanted to donate the money, that's fine. But forcing them to donate, when it is not necessary to preserve their rights, is not.
    • Troll? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ackthpt (218170) *
      "The work is funded by federal grants," (snip other sources of funding, yes I know it's not ALL tax funded)

      I am so glad that tax dollars extorted from me are being spent on such important projects. Thanks Uncle Sam!

      I wonder if you meant this in humour and were completely overlooking the Open Source bias of slashdot.

      Here's another way to look at it:
      The government funds are going into something which will be released to the public.

      Rather than: The government funded collegiate research will become pro

      • I'm not the original poster, but I am not fine with this. If people wanted to freely donate to this research they could. Instead, they are forced to do so, and it is not necessary to preserve their rights.
        • ...and it is not necessary to preserve their rights.

          You've been repeating this line over and over again throughout this thread, as if Slashdot has never heard a hardcore libertarian talking point before.

          We get it. You're a hardcore libertarian. Interstate highways, most scientific research, and farm subsidies are all Very Bad Things. Yes. We understand. You can stop harping on it already.
    • Worrying about a few hundred thousand dollars of a seemingly trivial research grant, and possibly ignoring the billions of dollars going into the occupation of Iraq monthly? Makes sense to me.
    • I am so glad that tax dollars extorted from me are being spent on such important projects. Thanks Uncle Sam!

      I guess I missed the announcement where they figured out the important things like a cure for [choose N: AIDS, breast cancer, heart disease, pancreatic cancer, SIDS...].

      Instead of pork barrel, we need a cream cheese brick.
  • Strangely, (Score:5, Funny)

    by venicebeach (702856) on Friday June 02, 2006 @09:57PM (#15459676) Homepage Journal
    Strangely, there are not many academical papers about cream cheese.

    Yeah. Truly bizarre.
    • Re:Strangely, (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mnemonic_ (164550)
      Hyperbole aside, that sentence raises an excellent point. Most likely he was referring to Thomas Jefferson's idea of an "academical village" [virginia.edu]. Therein lies the strangeness. Who would have guessed that nearly 2 centuries later, there are no academical village papers on cream cheese? "Bizarre" is an understatement.
    • Re:Strangely, (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      >Strangely, there are not many academical papers about cream cheese.

      Pubmed brings up 45 hits on "Cream cheese".
      Most relevant is probably "Characterization of Particles in Cream Cheese" [fass.org] (M. R. Sainani, H. K. Vyas and P. S. Tong - J. Dairy Sci. 87:2854-2863).
  • by mcostas (973159) on Friday June 02, 2006 @10:10PM (#15459740)
    The real need for research remains nondairy cheese. While there are now excellent vegan alternatives for most everything, milk, ice cream, hot dogs, etc., cheese is really tough to get right. Even most soy cheeses contain casein, a milk protein. Tofutti does make an amazing nondairy cream cheese, but solid, meltable nondairy cheese remains very elusive.
    • Grow a backbone and eat some real cheese. Not tofu crap, not whoknowswhyitscream cheese crap.

      And eat that damn burger. There's kids starving in Japan damnit and you're going to turn your nose up at an American delicacy. For shame.
    • The real need for research remains nondairy cheese. While there are now excellent vegan alternatives for most everything, milk, ice cream, hot dogs, etc., cheese is really tough to get right.

      I knew Steve Jobs was reading Slashdot, but I didn't realize he was posting!

      Hi, Mr. Jobs!
    • Vegan: A person who decides he hates meat, and responds by spending the rest of his days trying to recreate meat with vile vegetable-protein based substitutes.

      Why not just eat your raw carrots and celery, and forget about the fake meat?

    • Why is there a need for vegan cheese? That's like a hardcore carnivore trying to make brocolli out of bacon.
    • While there are now excellent vegan alternatives for most everything, milk, ice cream, hot dogs, etc., cheese is really tough to get right.

      I'll grant you ice cream. That's pretty good. I'll even grant you the milk substitutes as they can be good drinks in their own right (even if they taste nothing like milk), but I have never had a vegan hot dog that I could swallow the second bite of. Smart Dogs, Quorn Dogs, etc. are all just utterly horrible tasting.

      *sigh* I long for a vegetarian substitute for bacon
  • by Anonymous Coward
    For more information, please read the entertaining article of Wired magazine, "Schmear Campaign" or this summary to discover little-known facts about cream cheese.

    I read them, but I'd like to request that no one else read them. If we all read the article then the "little-known facts" become well-known, and therefore less valuable.

    Thanks.
  • by layer3switch (783864) on Friday June 02, 2006 @10:16PM (#15459767)
    We have Open Source Cream Cheese now? Oh sweet lord of mercy! All we need is Open Source Bagel and Open Source Toaster. Oh wait, we already have NetBSD [laughingsquid.com].
  • by Consul (119169) on Friday June 02, 2006 @10:43PM (#15459881) Journal
    I think mascarpone is better tasting cheese than basic cream cheese. Here's how you make your own.

    Heat one quart of light cream (I mix two cups of whipping cream with two cups of whole milk) in a double-boiler to 180 degrees F. After five minutes, pour in two tablespoons of freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Lit it sit at 180F for 30 minutes. Take off the heat, and let it cool, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.

    The next day, arrange a sterilized (by boiling) teatowel over another container, and pour the curds and whey into it. Tie up the towel, and suspend it using a skewer over a tall container, like a pitcher. Let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours, dripping away.

    The next day, the teatowel will contain yummy mascarpone cheese! Use within about a week to ten days of making it.

    I've done this several of times, with excellent results.
    • Great cheese page (Score:4, Informative)

      by mrjb (547783) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @03:35AM (#15460623)
      This is by far the best cheese making page [uc.edu] I've ever come across on the net.
  • by daeg (828071) on Friday June 02, 2006 @10:43PM (#15459884)
    As a former resident of Wisconsin, cheese is big business. Huge, in fact. Government grants for cheese and other dairy research are nothing new to the University of Wisconsin. Sure, it might appear like a drain on money, but by doing the research in a public setting it benefits all dairy producers whereas private research only benefits the company or co-op sponsoring it. To justify it all you have to do is imagine the tax benefits of even a few percentage points of additional dairy production.

    Besides, I back all agricultural research. Food will become the next major world commodity (aside from fuel). It's easy to make potable water, but trying to compensate year after year of lackluster arable ground is foolish. The United States is one, if not the, top contender for arable land and our rank will only increase as the floodplains of the Asian countries are flooded with ocean water with rising sea levels. Seven billion people have to eat somehow.
    • As a former resident of Wisconsin, cheese is big business. Huge, in fact. Government grants for cheese and other dairy research are nothing new to the University of Wisconsin. Sure, it might appear like a drain on money, but by doing the research in a public setting it benefits all dairy producers whereas private research only benefits the company or co-op sponsoring it. To justify it all you have to do is imagine the tax benefits of even a few percentage points of additional dairy production.

      Besides, I bac
  • by ptelligence (685287) on Friday June 02, 2006 @11:01PM (#15459948)
    This one is -- where else? -- in Madison, Wisconsin

    and the other one is in -- let me guess -- Philadelphia?

  • Win win for all the cubbby geeks out there. Now all we need is a breakdown of the chemical structure of the polymer used in real doll construction.


    http://nakedip.com/ [nakedip.com] -- revolutionary web 2.0 site
  • mmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by cptgrudge (177113) <cptgrudge@gmDEGASail.com minus painter> on Friday June 02, 2006 @11:40PM (#15460063) Journal
    It's not easy to extract a large plastic syringe that's submerged in a tub of very firm cream cheese, but Mercedes Brighenti performs the task with elegance and precision. The sleeves of her white lab coat are rolled up, her long dark hair is pulled back, and her silver watch is pushed up on her slender arm. Still, the final tug flings little globs of cheese around the university lab - one of only two in the US with a cream cheese research program.

    I'm think I'm in love.

  • Laugh all you want (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Deagol (323173) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @12:17AM (#15460169) Homepage
    Our second cow is a few days away from having her calf ("freshening" as it's known to dairy folks). My wife's the primary cheese maker of the house, and one of her greatest challenges has been perfecting cream cheese. We've got most of the other basic cheeses down: mozzarella, cheddar, parmesean, feta, jack, and a couple others. But cream cheese has been a constant challenge, and it's a constant frustration since we *love* cheesecake.

    mmmmmm... cheesecake

  • by ruiner13 (527499) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @12:25AM (#15460186) Homepage
    I am from Glenview, Illinois, where Kraft has their HQ [kraft.com]. They have a nice R&D plant right in the middle of town, and one time, when I was growing up (I was maybe 11 or 12), my friends and I took a little hike through the wooded area behind it. There was a large storm drain coming out of the plant that led into the North Branch of the Chicago River. What startled my friends and me was the presence of a few guys in biohazard suits scribbing the walls of it off with a high-pressure hose of some kind. Whatever the secret ingredient is for their cream cheese, I hope it doesn't produce whatever they were scrubbing down!
  • by FosterSJC (466265) on Saturday June 03, 2006 @12:44AM (#15460235)
    Carlton Yoder, of Champlain Valley Creamery, makes one of America's only stabilizer- and gum-free cream cheeses. You can learn about his products and creamery from his website at http://www.cvcream.com/ [cvcream.com], and buy the cream cheese here [artisanalcheese.com]. He is a very enthusiastic proponent of sustainable agriculture, in Vermont.

    The texture of Old Fashion Organic Cream Cheese is similar to fresh goat cheese, but with more creaminess and without that distinct goats milk flavor. Because we dont stabilize the cheese with any sort of gums (carob bean, xanthan, etc), the cheese may separate. The liquid is simply whey, just stir it up and enjoy! The cheese is best in the first week after its made, but it will last 4 weeks in your fridge.


    On the subject of cheese, the distinctions between things like soured, curdled milk, sour cream, cream cheese, mascarpone, and full-fledged cheese are myriad and arcane. I wrote a quick blurb for a friend, explaining what cheese exactly is. I have attached it below, for your perusal. IAACE (I am a cheese expert)...

    Cheese is a rather general term describing curdled milk (or cream). To curdle milk means to separate the whey from the curds. Milk proteins (casein) are ostensibly broken in half. One half precipitates out of the milk, becoming a solid (the curds). The other half remains liquid (the whey), though it ceases to be white. The distinction between true cheese and things like cream cheese, sour cream, mascarpone, creme fraiche, etc. is the way in which the milk is curdled.

    Milk can be curdled either by acid and/or by rennet. To be considered a true cheese (e.g. cheddar, swiss, brie, et. al.), acid AND rennet coagulation (i.e. curdling) is required. First, a culture is added to the milk (or is already present in the milk in the case of some raw milk cheeses). This culture "ferments" the milk, slowly lowering the pH (raising the acidity) of the milk.
    Then, rennet is added - this is an enzyme derived from the fourth stomach chamber of an unweaned ruminant animal (e.g. a calf, kid, or lamb). This enzyme literally breaks apart the proteins in the milk, an action facilitated by the presence of acid (and heat), and separates the milk into curds and whey. The whey is poured off (either to make ricotta, or to feed to hogs). The curds are then cut, releasing more whey, drained, and molded (this is a gross simplification - most of the textural variations in cheese stem from this process). At this point, the curds have become cheese.

    False cheeses like creme fraiche, mascarpone, sour cream, etc. are curdled very lightly and without the use of rennet. The acid required can be produced by natural or added bacteria, vinegar, lemon juice, etc. The variations in the acid-curdled "cheeses" come from the extent of acidification, coagulation, variations in fat content, types of cultures, etc. For example, creme fraiche is cream (thus, high in fat) that is lightly coagulated (lower acidity). Sour cream is cream that is more heavily coagulated. This slight difference in acidity and cultures will cause sour cream to fully curdle (i.e. turn chunky) when boiled, whereas creme fraiche will not.

    The diversity and complexity of cheesemaking processes is overwhelming. I hope this helps to illustrate (if not simplify) the breadth of the cheese world.
  • Kraft, which has been perfecting its Philadelphia-brand cheese for more than 75 years, closely guards its manufacturing secrets, keeping them in a vault in Chicago. What it knows, it isn't sharing... Brighenti is part of a push to make the secrets of cream cheese available to anyone.

    Kraft has dominance on the cheese market and has a proprietary formula... some people are trying to make cheese available to everyone. Sounds a lot like the software industry. One company has dominance on the industry, and tha

  • You mean, like peer-review science? Gee, have we really fallen so far that we don't recognize what proper science looks like?
  • by rdunnell (313839) * on Saturday June 03, 2006 @02:02AM (#15460445)
    Did the research include an investigation as to why jalapeno poppers are more addictive than many street drugs?

    I think that's one of the most important issues regarding cream cheese, at least as far as /. is concerned.
  • Is there any possibility of finding out new information about quark (cheese)?
  • Damn I want a boob and cream cheese treat now. Why did it have to be women in cream cheese?
  • Are the results going to be free to the public, or hidden behind a trade association membership form?

    I've tried to get answers out of food-industry associations before. Forget it unless you want to join, which sometimes requires proof of corporate activity, and always requires a hefty fee.

    So if this "available to everyone in the industry" thing isn't "free to everyone," Kraft will get the secrets that fill out their copious internal data, but you won't learn how to break off a big chunk of hteir market sha

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