Mississippi is home to about 7,000 dairy cows and 50 dairy farm families! And June Dairy Month allows us to celebrate the hard-working farmers and thank them for their delicious products. Marion, Walthall, Tate, Copiah, and Pike counties continue to be the top milk producers for Mississippi. Each dairy cow produces on average 5.8 gallons of milk per day, with an average of 1,761 gallons in 2021. The total amount of milk produced equaled 12.3million gallons.
One of the most delicious products that come from milk is cheese! Cheese is a good source of high-quality protein and contributes other essential nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A to the U.S. diet. For those with Lactose Intolerance, eating small amounts of aged, hard cheeses such as Parmesan, Cheddar, and Swiss, which contain minimal lactose, may help manage LI and still allow for the consumption of essential dairy nutrients. For vegetarians, cheese and other dairy foods can be significant sources of high-quality protein. Even in a plant-rich diet, consuming adequate amounts of dairy foods such as cheese will help you meet nutrient needs.
And while there is nothing more summer than a slice of cheesy pizza or cheeseburger by the pool, there are more cheese options to add to your family’s lineup! Mozzarella has more uses than just for pizza. You can find Mozzarella sold as logs, pearls, and or balls, making it perfect to pair with seasonal produce like heirloom tomatoes, roasted peppers, or even grilled zucchini. Just serve your veggie of choice with sliced (not shredded) Mozzarella alongside a lightly toasted baguette and your choice of olive oil.
If you’re looking for a cheese to sprinkle on salads, wraps, or to use to make a dressing, then look no further than feta and blue cheese crumbles. Blue cheese has a form of mold added to it, which helps to give the cheese its color and flavor. By contrast, feta cheese does not contain mold; instead, the creation of feta cheese involves soaking the cheese in brine to develop its salty taste. Typically, you can substitute for one another, and both will add a punch of flavor to any meal.
Cheese and fruit platters are the perfect way to explore new products. Think of these pairings when you’re trying to plan your cheese board.
- Apple — Cheddar, Manchego, Brie, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Fuji, Gala.
- Blackberries — Cotija or Aged Cheddar.
- Cranberries — Mozzarella or Manchego.
- Raspberry — Cream Cheese, or grilled Muenster/Baby Swiss Cheese.
- Fig — Blue Cheese or Smoked Gouda.
There is a cheese for everyone, and life’s too short not to explore all the cheesy options. Give these easy breezy, summer-pleasing, cheesy recipes a try! They are perfect for poolside or to bring to a backyard barbecue.
Caprese Crostini This easy appetizer recipe features all the flavor of a classic caprese salad, but on top of toasted, bite-size bread.
- 24 (1⁄2-inch-thick) slices ciabatta baguette
- 1 cup red grape tomatoes, quartered
- 1 cup yellow grape tomatoes, quartered
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus extra for coating slices of bread
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1⁄4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup small mozzarella balls Ciliegine
- 16 fresh basil leaves
- Place ciabatta slices on baking sheet, brush with olive oil and bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove bread from oven and let cool.
- Mix quartered tomatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic powder and vinegar in mixing bowl. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
- Slice each mozzarella balls into four slices and set aside.
- To assemble, place slices of toasted bread on a serving platter, then place three to four slices of mozzarella on each crostini. Top with a spoonful of the tomato mixture, spreading over crostini as needed. Stack basil leaves on top of each other and then roll-up tightly. Gently cut the basil into thin pieces making long thin strips. Sprinkle over the prepared crostini. Serve immediately at room temperature.
Source of recipe: Rebecca Egsieker, The Dairy Chef
Peachy Gouda and Ham Skewers This easy no-cook appetizer features fresh peaches, ham and wedges of mellow Gouda cheese. You can substitute any mild-flavored semi-soft or hard cheese such as Edam, Havarti, or mozzarella for the Gouda, and if fresh peaches are not in season, you can use plums, apricots, or pickled peaches. The balsamic vinegar adds a rich, tangy flavor to the peaches and cheese, but the skewers are great with or without the drizzle.
- 4 medium peaches, sliced
- 12 thin slices Virginia deli ham
- 1 (7-ounce) round Gouda cheese
- 48 fresh basil leaves
- 24 (4-inch) wooden skewers
- 1⁄4 cup balsamic glaze optional
- Cut ham slices into 24 (1-inch-wide) strips approximately 5 inches in length.
- Remove paraffin covering from cheese and cut cheese into 12 wedges.
- Thread one peach slice, one basil leaf, one ham slice, one cheese wedge, a second basil leaf, a second ham slice, and a second peach slice onto each skewer. Repeat with remaining skewers. Drizzle with balsamic glaze just before serving, if desired.