Frequently Asked Questions What is the difference between natural and process cheese? Natural cheese (like Cheddar or Monterey Jack) is made by culturing milk with added enzymes into curds, then salting and pressing into form. Process cheese consists mainly of natural cheese that is blended and cooked with ingredients like cream and emulsifiers, which give the cheese its great melting properties. What kinds of enzymes are used in your cheese? We use microbially-derived enzymes that are commercially extracted. Can people who are sensitive to lactose eat cheese? Any natural cheese (besides fresh cheese curds) will contain little to no lactose. Process cheese typically contains anywhere from 1% to 4% lactose. What do you use to color your cheese? In our yellow (colored) cheeses, we use either Annatto, Paprika, or Apo-Carotenal (beta-Carotene) to add color. These are derived from natural sources and are identified on the label as “color added.” How do I find out the meat/meat alternate equivalency in your cheeses? As a general rule, all of our natural cheeses and many of our process cheeses have a 1:1 ratio as a meat/meat alternate so 1 oz. of cheese equals 1 oz. of meat. However, we do have some items vary from this equivalency. Use our K12 Calculator to verify the exact meat/meat alternate equivalent. Can I freeze cheese? Some higher moisture cheese varieties can be frozen and thawed with little or no impact on cheese texture and performance. However, lower moisture cheeses, like Cheddar, can become brittle on freezing. Generally, we don’t recommend freezing cheese, but if you do, thaw the cheese slowly in the refrigerator. Rapid thawing results in cheese texture changes and can stimulate mold growth. What temperature should cheese be stored at? Cheese should be stored between 33-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Do you have any shelf-stable cheeses (not sold in the refrigerated section)? Our (203351) 2 lb. Melting Cheese is our only cheese that can be stored outside of refrigeration, but it should be refrigerated once opened. Our reduced fat/reduced sodium cheese that is sold through government assistance programs must be kept refrigerated and if it is out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours it should NOT be eaten. What is mold and why does it appear on cheese? Mold is the visible growth of fungi on the cheese surface that occurs when cheese is mishandled or stored improperly (such as outside refrigeration temperatures) or if the cheese exceeds the code date on the package. Cheese having mold on it can be consumed, but only after cutting away moldy areas along with about ½ inch of the cheese around the moldy area. If mold is excessive (covering a very large area of the cheese surface), discard the cheese and purchase fresher product. How can I prevent my cheese from getting moldy? Make sure cheese is stored between 33-40 degrees Fahrenheit.Wrap cheese tightly when it is not in use.Ensure that you always prep the cheese on a clean surface and use clean utensils.Avoid freezing cheese and don’t thaw frozen cheese rapidly, as it causes condensation to form on the cheese surface allowing mold to grow quickly. Do you give plant tours to the public? Due to your personal safety and the overall sanitation of the plant, Bongards no longer provides plant tours to the public.