Butter and Cheese Gadgets

Butter is made by churning pasteurized cream. Federal law requires that it contain at least 80 percent milk-fat. Salt and coloring may be added. Nutritionally, butter is a fat; one tablespoon contains 12 grams total fat, 7 grams saturated fatty acids, 31 milligrams cholesterol, and 100 calories.

Whipped butter is regular butter whipped for easier spreading. Whipping increases the amount of air in butter and increases the volume of butter per pound.

The USDA grade shield on butter packages means that butter has been tested and graded by experienced government graders. In addition to checking the quality of the butter, the graders also test its keeping ability.

U.S. Grade AA Butter has a delicate sweet flavor, with a fine, highly pleasing aroma is made from fresh sweet cream and has a smooth, creamy texture with good spreading ability.

Tips on Butter:

Unsalted butter may be labeled 'sweet or 'unsalted' butter. Some people prefer its flavor.

When using whipped butter in place of regular butter in recipes, use 1/3 to 1/2 more than the recipe calls for if the measurement is by volume (1 cup, 1/2 cup, etc.). If the measurement is by weight (1/4 pound, 1/2 pound, etc.), use the amount called for.

Store butter in its original wrapper or container so it won't pick up flavors from other foods.

Butter thinly spread in sandwiches adds moisture and flavor, and keeps the filling from soaking the bread.

Use planes and wires for cutting soft cheeses. The thickness of your slices depends on the angle you're holding the plane, and the pressure you are exerting on the cheese. Slice downwards with the wire cutters for best results.

The 2-handled cheese wire is also great for slicing polenta, and for torting cakes (cutting layers).

Non-stick, kullenschliff (granton), and hollow-bladed knives are used for soft and medium-hard cheeses, and keep the slices from sticking to the blade.

The 2-tine knives are used soft and medium-hard cheeses; cut the cheese and use the pronged end for serving.

Tear-shaped pointed cheese knives are best for Parmesan and other hard cheeses. As is the nature of these cheeses, once split they will generally crumble into chunks. Insert the tip and use downward pressure only.

Narrow rectangular cheese knives work best for semi-soft (or semi-firm) cheeses like Brie or Jack.

Wide rectangular cheese knives are for soft, crumbly cheeses, like Blue Cheese.

Need a spare cheese cutting wire and can't find the right size? Try a music store - a guitar or piano string might just do the trick.