Product Cutting: Dubliner Cheese
Adding specialty cheese to your menu.
Dubliner is an Irish specialty cheese made from milk produced during Ireland’s summer months for peak flavor and sweetness. It is aged for a minimum of 12 months to produce a firm texture and distinctive, rounded taste. Dubliner uses starter cultures similar to those of Cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan; the cheese is described as having the richness of a mature Cheddar with the sweet nuttiness of Swiss and the bite of an aged Parmesan.
- Check the packaging. Foodservice sizes are available in 5-pound loaves shrink-wrapped in plastic film; packaging should be clean and reasonably snug around the cheese.
- Unwrap the cheese and note appearance. Color should be golden and uniform and slightly darker than white cheddar. Texture should be even with some evidence of crystal formation to reflect the maturity of the cheese. These are calcium lactate crystals that occur naturally during aging and give a slight crunch to the cheese.
- Smell the cheese. The aroma should be clean with no off odors.
- Cut into the cheese. The texture should be a little crumbly but not as pronounced as in a Cheddar.
- Taste the cheese at room temperature. Dubliner has a unique sweet, nutty flavor with a hint of salt and pleasant mouthfeel; it is less acidic than aged cheddar but nicely complex.
- Melt a slice of Dubliner on a piece of bread. It should exhibit good melting properties, enhancing the flavor of the cheese and producing a desirable gooey texture.
Last year, strong milk prices paid to farmers coupled with rising fuel costs caused a spike in wholesale cheese prices. By the summer of 2007, commodity Cheddar cheese prices had reached a whopping $2 per pound wholesale, dipping to $1.88 by the first quarter of 2008. Since half of the U.S. milk supply goes to making cheese, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, everyone was experiencing higher wholesale prices.
The outlook is a bit brighter for the remainder of 2008. First of all, the ERS projects an increase in American milk production over 2007, from 185.4 billion pounds to 190.2 billion. More milk should translate into higher cheese production and put downward pressure on cheese prices. “We’re forecasting prices down for the rest of the year,” reports Roger Hoskins, dairy outlook agricultural economist for the ERS. “By next quarter (April to June), the price should drop to $1.67 a pound—still high, but not as high as 2007.”
“New factors are at play in the cheese market,” claims John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. “World demand is way up, especially in Japan, China and Indonesia, and there have been declines in production in the European Union.” Although specialty cheese imports from abroad are still reaching our tables, American-made cheeses are increasingly making their way to other countries.