How Salty is my Cheese?

Understanding salt in cheesemaking.
In a pasta state of mind. Old school bolognese and homemade pasta with an obscene portion of hand-dipped ricotta is the perfect foil for this dreary weather. #allthecarbs #bolognese #comfortfood
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Salt is one of the four main ingredients in every cheese (the other ingredients are cultures, rennet and, of course, milk.)  

Some cheeses have more salt than others, which is added for several reasons. Salt helps stop bacteria from growing, pulls moisture from the curds, improves the texture, helps create the rind, and, of course, enhances the flavor. It’s also a natural preservative.

Salt can be added to cheese in several ways: Either the cheese is brined in a salt solution, the salt is mixed in with the curd, or it’s added to the outside of the cheese.

Cheeses that are often lower in sodium include cottage cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, fresh mozzarella, parmesan (but only if you consider you use less parmesan when you sprinkle it on top of your food) and swiss (which cooks longer and somehow removes some of the salt).  Sometimes a flavored cheese, like a pepper jack, may have less sodium as the bite of the peppers enhances the flavor instead.

While you may be able to find cheese labeled “low sodium,” manufacturers often add artificial ingredients to make up for the lack of a salty flavor.

If you’re trying to avoid cheeses that are saltier, it’s best to stay away from Halloumi, blues, feta, and processed cheeses.

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that we eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Some experts suggest an even lower intake of closer to 1,500 milligrams, especially if you have high blood pressure, kidney disease or other health conditions where eating too much salt is a problem.

You can check the nutrition labels on the back of each cheese package for the actual salt content.

Add a dollop of Bellwether Farms Ricotta to any pasta dish.

Explore California artisan cheeses in our new Cheese Directory.


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