The scholar Ibn al-Qayyim in his Prophetic medicine said regarding cheese:
"The moist unsalted cheese is good for the stomach and passes easily into the organs; it increases the flesh and softens the belly in a moderate way. Salted cheese is less nutritious; it is bad for the stomach and harmful to the intestines. Old cheese restricts the belly, as does grilled cheese, and is good for ulcers and prevents diarrhea.
Cheese is cold and moist. Grilling it makes it more appropriate to its temperament. Fire rectifies and moderates it, refines its essence, and sweetens its taste and odour. Old salty cheese is hot and dry. Grilling rectifies it, too, for it refines its essence and breaks its sharpness, the fire drawing from it certain hot, dry constituents appropriate to it. The salted kind causes emaciation and generates stones of the kidney and bladder, and it is bad for the stomach. The addition of refining ingredients is worse because these cause it to reach the stomach."
Health Benefits of cheese
Cheese contains a range of essential nutrients; it is a source of calcium, for building strong bones; essential protein; vitamin D, to help absorb the calcium; a selection of B vitamins for the central nervous system; Vitamin A as a cancer-fighter; and beneficial for healthy skin.
Cheese also supplies zinc in an easily absorbed form, vital for male reproductive function. As well as its high levels of calcium, cheese also contains phosphorous, which combines with calcium to strengthen the bones, good for growing children. It's protein-content helps to build muscle strength.
What Is cheese?
All cheeses are made from the same raw ingredient - the milk of an animal such as a cow, buffalo, sheep or goat. Cheese is made by separating the milk into solid curds and liquid whey. Usually this is done by acidifying (souring) the milk and adding rennet, to set the cheese.
Cheeses can be classified into two very broad types: fresh and ripened, depending on how they are made. Fresh (unripened) cheeses are ready to be eaten soon after the whey is drained from the curds. They may be pressed or molded into different shapes, but they are almost all delicate in flavor and quite soft, milky or spreadable in texture. The most popular fresh cheeses are Ricotta, Mascarpone, cottage cheese, quark and Cream cheese.
With ripened or aged cheeses, the curds are further drained by a variety of methods including cooking, soaking or bacteria inoculation. These are some categories of ripened cheeses:
- Hard: Cooked, pressed, and usually aged for at least two years, these cheeses are firm and dry. Well-known varieties include Parmesan and Pecorino.
- Semi-Firm: These cheeses are cooked and pressed, but not aged as long as the hard cheeses. They are generally firm, but not crumbly. Popular semi-firm cheeses include Cheddar, Swiss, and Edam.
- Semi-Soft: Soft, yet sliceable, these cheeses are pressed and may be cooked or uncooked. Semi-soft cheeses include Feta and Gouda.
- Soft-Ripened: These surface-ripened cheeses are neither cooked nor pressed. Instead they are subjected to various bacteria processes to ripen them from the outside in. Varieties include Brie and Camembert.
As storage life is related to the moisture content of the cheese, the softer the cheese, the shorter amount of time it will keep fresh. In general, firm and semi-firm cheeses will keep for two weeks while soft or grated cheeses will keep for about one week.
Processed cheese is typically a blend of fresh and aged cheeses combined with added colorings, preservatives, and emulsifiers (for smoothness and ease of melting). It is also pasteurized to stop the ripening process, giving it a longer shelf life, but is less nutritious and lacks taste compared to natural cheese.