We carry many grades of cheesecloth for many purposes. Grade 60 cheesecloth is the most widely used cloth… in the manufacturing of cheese.
Our resident cheesecloth expert Lucy Bauccio has written some thoughts regarding cheesecloth in food production:
When I started in this industry 33 years ago, I had a fascination for cheesecloth. I needed to learn as much as I could. I went to several manufacturing plants to actually see what they did and was also blessed with wonderful customers sending me pictures of their finished product.
Grade 60 Cheesecloth is a gauzy, lightweight, woven 100% cotton fabric with tiny holes that allows air to flow through the fabric. The count of threads per square inch is 32x28. This is considered a medium to tight weave and is the most popular of grades. Cheesecloth is available in several different grades, from open to extra-fine weave. Grades are distinguished by the number of threads per inch in each direction. In future posts I’ll tell you about the uses of each of the popular constructions.
It's not just a name. Cheesecloth is really used to make cheese. This type of fabric started being referred to as "cheesecloth" because cheesemakers realized that it protected cheese but also allowed it to breathe while it aged. For this reason, cheesecloth is wrapped around some types of wheels of cheese while they age. Ex.: Locatelli, Parmigiana Reggiano, Cheddar, etc. My mother who was born in Italy, is the one who taught me about wrapping the hard cheeses in cheesecloth many years ago, she then put it in a brown bag and stored it in our second refrigerator in the garage. This lets the cheese breathe and helps it maintain moisture after cutting big chunks off the wheel to grate.
The primary use of Grade 60 Cheesecloth is in some styles of cheese making, such as Ricotta cheese (well, technically, ricotta is not a cheese at all, but a cheese by-product. Its name, ricotta, means cooked again, an obvious reference to the production method used to make it. Where it is used to remove whey from cheese curds, and to help hold the curds together as the cheese is formed.) Also in manufacturing of Goat Cheese, Farmers Cheese, Paneer etc.
Other uses of the grade 60 are: straining stocks, custards, thickening yogurt, making tofu & ghee. Saucy dishes like braised short ribs or oxtail stew starts with a good stock and a good stock starts with the seasoning—a sachet or a bouquet garni. They are both bundles of cheesecloth stuffed with herbs and spices and used to season soups, stews, and stocks.
The bundle is tied with butcher's twine to a handle of the cooking pot, allowing for easy removal from the finished product. A sachet differs from a bouquet garni in that the latter only consists of herbs, usually parsley, thyme, and bay leaf.
A sachet includes those three herbs plus, usually, black peppercorns. Here's what you'll need to make a stock sachet:
4-inch square of cheesecloth
18 inches butcher's twine
12 parsley stems
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Grade 60 cheesecloth could also be used to cover Berry Bushes. I was told by a small farmer that he would cover the bushes as they grew to help prevent the bugs from eating the berries without having to use pesticide.
As you can tell the list for grade 60 cheesecloth goes on and on, from straining apple cider, wine, and yogurt, craft projects, even staining and painting. It’s even used in the Federal Reserve.
Here’s a little crafty idea! My sister-in-law being a big Martha Stewart fan was watching a holiday show and called me immediately to bring home cheesecloth. With Christmas Eve approaching and as always we do the traditional seven fishes, we had to dress up our place settings. We cut approximately 8 inch squares of cheesecloth, took ½ a lemon and tied it together making a pretty raffia bow. One went at each place setting and nobody needed to be concerned with biting down on a lemon seed. Ouch!