What is Cheesecloth?
When making cheese, cheesemakers can't ignore the fact that they need the best cheesecloth. It’s a vital tool in the cheese-making process. Cheesecloth has many uses despite being originally used in cheese production.
It can also be used in the process of making yogurt. Through straining, cheesecloth makes the yogurt thicker. Moreover, cheesecloth is a great tool in capturing solids and straining the water in various recipes.
It can come in handy when making homemade ketchup, almond milk, fresh fruit drinks, infused oils, and many more. You can also use it as a wiping/polishing cloth in woodworking, clothing, printmaking, laboratories, and woodworking.
Cheesecloth also comes in a range of packaging that depends on its specific use. Pieces packed individually can be used for wiping whereas long rolls are great for long work stations where products are going to be placed.
What is cheesecloth made of?
Cheesecloth is a cotton cloth that’s been loosely woven to resemble a gauze. The cheesecloth is woven to different grades, thicknesses, and lengths. There are seven grades of cheesecloth available and range from open to extra-fine weave.
The number of threads used per inch constructed in each direction determines the grade of the cheesecloth. The woven fiber used to make cheesecloth is great in preventing the permeation of solids into the material while allowing liquids to pass through.
There are at least seven different grades of cheesecloth available. The grades range from open (grade 10) to very fine-textured cheesecloths classified under grade 90. You can distinguish the grades of cheesecloth using the number of threads per inch in each direction.
Grade 10 cheesecloth: This grade of cheesecloth has a thread count of 20 x 12 threads per square inch. It's considered to be open weaved and can be used in applications that require a proper flow of water and air through the cloth. This is an all-purpose, economical, and disposable fabric that can be used in cooking, polishing, waxing, and straining among other applications.
Grade 40 cheesecloth: It has a thread count of 24 x 20 threads per square inch. The high-quality medium grade cheesecloth is durable and absorbent. It can also be used in cooking, polishing, weddings, and faux paintings among others.
Grade 50 cheesecloth: The cheesecloth has a thread count of 28 x 24 threads per square inch. It’s similar to the grade 40 cheesecloth since it’s also a high-quality medium grade weave cheesecloth that’s durable and absorbent. Its applications are also similar to that of grade 40 cheesecloth.
Grade 60 cheesecloth: The thread count on the grade 60 cheesecloth is 32 x 28 threads per square inch. It’s also a durable and absorbent high-quality medium grade weave cheesecloth.
Grade 80 cheesecloth: Having a thread count of 40 x 32 threads per square inch, the grade 80 cheesecloth is an extra-fine weave known for its durability and extra strength. It’s washable and reusable and great for use in making bandages, dresses, curtains, cheese making, binding, and a great alternative for butter muslin.Grade 90 cheesecloth: This grade of cheesecloth has a thread count of 44 x 36 threads per square inch and is considered the finest and highest quality weave cheesecloth fabric. The fabric is strong, durable, washable, and reusable. Similar to the grade 80 cheesecloth, grade 90 can be used in making bandages, dresses, curtains, cheese making, binding, and a great alternative for butter muslin.
What is the best grade of cheesecloth?
The lowest and open weave cheesecloth is grade 10. Medium weaves include Grades 40, 50, and 60. Grade 80 is referred to as fine weave whereas Grade 90 is considered the extra-fine weave. These two grades of cheesecloth are high-quality and durable.
The different grades of cheesecloth have certain culinary purposes. The best grade of cheesecloth you can use will depend on the type of cheese you want or how fine you want to strain. Grade 10 is a popular draping at rustic weddings and can be used for Halloween costumes and decorations.
The heavier and more durable Grade 90 cheesecloth can be used for summer skirts, blouses, and shirts. Its crinkly appearance makes it appropriate for casual wear. It’s also excellent in making masks and curtains. Because its washable and reusable this grade of cheesecloth is ideal for cooks and cleaners. It can be used as an alternative when making goat cheese and for butter muslin.
The best cheesecloth should have certain features. To avoid scratching surfaces when cleaning, the cheesecloth has to be made entirely out of cotton. The cotton material should be unbleached and have no impurities such as chemical binders.
The best cheesecloth should have the absorbent capacity to allow the easy application of substances such as gum Arabic to offset plates.
S. CENG Ultra Fine Grade 90 Cheesecloth
This Grade 90 cheesecloth is made from 100% premium unbleached cotton. You don’t have to worry about leftover chlorine leaching out of the cheesecloth and into your food or skin. It measures 1-yard wide by 4-yards long with no precut. This makes it easy for you to cut it down to the size you need. You can then use it as spice bags or nut milk bags.
Olicity Grade 90 Ultra Fine Cheesecloth
This ultra-fine cheesecloth is made entirely from natural pure cotton that’s never been bleached or dyed. Your food and drinks won’t have any dye left when you strain or cover them. The cotton used isn’t recycled to ensure that this cheesecloth is lint-free and doesn't stretch easily. You can clean it with a mild detergent or warm water and reuse it. The 5-yard long cheesecloth is perfect for Halloween decorations since it can easily be transformed and cut to smaller sizes.
Italiana Migliore Best Quality Cheesecloth
This Grade 60 cheesecloth is made from premium unbleached cotton fabric mesh that’s perfect for straining food and soft enough to use as a baby wrap. It’s durable and built to be washed and reused severally. It’s ideal for cooking, blasting, filtering, wrapping, straining, and wrapping. The unique weave of the Italiana Migliore makes it excellent for bandaging and air drying.
Using cheesecloth to make cheese
Cheesecloth got its name from cheesemakers who discovered that they used when making cheese not only protected the cheese but allowed it to breathe as it aged. This is the main reason that cheesecloth is wrapped around certain types of cheese wheels such as cheddar while it ages.
England is known for its bandage-wrapped cheddar or clothbound cheddar. Many American cheesemakers also make this traditional style of cheddar cheese.
Cheesecloth is used during the cheese-making process to drain the whey from cheese curds. Draining this liquid is important to help in shaping and aging the cheese curds into wheels of cheese.
This may otherwise not be possible if the cheese curds hold too much moisture. Cheesecloth is also necessary for those trying to make homemade cheese such as ricotta, fresh goat cheese, paneer, or farmer’s cheese.
Uses of cheesecloth other than making cheese
Besides making cheese, cheesecloths have other alternative uses. Some of the alternative uses of cheesecloth include:
1. Basting Poultry
Your lunch or dinner is going to be more delicious with a nice slice of moist turkey or chicken breast. Wrapping your chicken breast with cheesecloth drenched in butter, white wine, and olive oil before putting it in the oven is a great trick to keeping it moist.
Most kitchens rely on a regular colander to strain. However, some recipes require a finer sieve that can be achieved using a cheesecloth. Cheesecloth can also be used to strain the water from recipes such as fresh fruit drinks, coffee, infused oils, homemade yogurt, almond milk, and ketchup. It’s important to rinse the cheesecloth before using it to remove any lint. You can then spread it over the normal strainer and filter your ingredients.
If you want your cake or cookies to look like a masterpiece, then you should add dusted sugar or cocoa to finish off your dessert. To achieve this, tie the piece of cheesecloth on the mouth of a sugar jar. You can then shake the jar over the cookies to evenly spread the dusted sugar.
4. Bundling Herbs
If you’re looking to add a bit of flavor to your meal then herbs are a great way to do this. Most people get this wrong and end up with stems floating in their stews or soups. To avoid this scenario, you can place your herbs into a piece of cheesecloth and tie the top with twine. You can then drop it in your pot of stew and remove it before serving.
If you hurt yourself in the kitchen while preparing ingredients then you don’t have to worry about getting a bandage. A cheesecloth can function the same way as a medical gauze. You can clean the wound and apply some antibacterial cream before loosely covering it with a clean piece of cheesecloth.
6. Covering Food
Cheesecloth can come in handy when you’re out for a picnic or enjoying a barbecue. Drape your sandwiches, burger, or ribs with cheesecloth to keep flies, bugs and other insects. This will protect you from any contamination that may be caused by these insects.
7. Clean Up
Cheesecloth weave creates enough friction to help remove stains from silverware and cooking pots. It can be used as a standalone to clean or alongside baking soda that will help you polish away the gunk. Cheesecloth may help you restore your pans and pots' original shine.
8. Texturing Curd
Cheesecloth can be used to add some fanfare to curd. This can be achieved by cutting the curd into small pieces and refrigerating them to firm them up. The small pieces can then be wrapped in cheesecloths. To impress the cloth’s shape on the pieces of curd, you have to twist the ends.
9. Making Summer Outfits
Summer wear needs to be light and comfortable. Cheesecloth has a light texture that makes it ideal for making summer outfits. Moreover, Grade 90 cheesecloth is great for making casual wear because of its crinkly appearance.
10. Fire Testing
Grade 60 cheesecloth is mostly used to test potential fire hazards by consumer product manufacturers. The device being tested is wrapped with cheesecloth and put through several simulations that include lightning or power surges. Products can be rejected by regulators if the cheesecloth catches fire. The cloth shouldn’t catch fire for a fail-safe device.
Since cheesecloth is made entirely from cotton, this makes it perfect for use in the lab. It’s capable of absorbing liquids and cleaning equipment. It’s also strong enough that it won’t tear easily. The major cause of lint and particles are torn wiping cloths. That’s why cheesecloth is important in the lab. Moreover, cheesecloth won’t scratch glassware, microscopes, and any lab equipment that’s made from metal or stainless steel.
There are lots of complaints that cheesecloth doesn’t last for very long. Many people say that they dispose of their pieces after a single-use, making it quite costly. With the many alternatives to cheesecloth, you won’t need a cheesecloth to prepare your favorite dishes. Here are some of the alternatives to cheesecloth.
1. Muslin Cloth
One of the most popular alternatives to cheesecloth is muslin cloth. It’s durable, strong, cheap and reusable. You can easily determine the size you want since muslin cloth can be bought by the yard. Therefore, there's no need for worrying about predetermined sizes. To obtain the size you want for your needs, tear the muslin cloth along the thread-line. This type of cloth is neutral in color and won’t leak dyes into food while straining.
2. Cotton Fabric
You can use a light plain colored cotton fabric for straining. Plain colored fabric is preferred to avoid staining your food products while straining. Some of the stocks you’ll be straining are likely to cause permanent staining.
3. Fine-Mesh Bags
Fine-mesh bags are mainly used in straining almond milk, nut milk, or for holding grains when making beer. They’re made from nylon, can be machine-washed, and are available in various sizes. Fine-mesh bags can’t be stained easily and retain their shape. Besides they’re easier to use and last longer than regular cheesecloth.
4. Flour Sack Towels
These are thin towels made of loose cotton weave. Compared to cheesecloth, flour-sack towels have a tighter weave. However, their weave is looser than average dish towels. They’re used in the kitchen as an absorbent for drying utensils. Flour-sack towels have a finer mesh that’ll make straining take longer but they have a great straining capacity and can easily replace cheesecloth in the kitchen.
Handkerchiefs are cheap, easy to clean, and can be re-used severally. It’s one of the best alternatives to cheesecloth that you can use to strain your stock. You can look for a large handkerchief to be used exclusively for straining purposes. It’s important that you separate handkerchiefs meant for straining from that meant for other purposes.
6. Beverage Filter
If you have a coffee maker, there are high chances that you won’t have to rush to the store to get a coffee filter. Chances are that you already have it in your cupboard. Coffee filters are one of the most common alternatives to cheesecloth since they share the same weave. They’re strongly woven and help produce a finer strain than cheesecloth. Reusable filters make the perfect strainer and a great alternative to muslin cloth.