In the world of cheese, the word fat denotes the fat content of milk and, consequently, the cheese it produces. Also called butterfat or milkfat, this component greatly influences the flavor and aroma of cheese. Fat content varies from one animal type to another. For example, sheep’s milk has proportionately the highest amount of fat and other non-liquid components (see Dry Matter). Because of this, it takes less sheep’s milk (4½ pounds) to make 1 pound of cheese than it does cow’s milk (10 pounds). However, the type of milk (whole, nonfat, and so on) from which the cheese is made also affects the amount of fat. Double-Cream and Triple-Cream Cheeses are made with extra cream that boosts the fat content. It would seem that rich, creamy cheeses are higher in fat than dense, hard cheeses. However, the final fat content listed on cheese labels is determined by measuring the fat in the total Dry Matter of the finished cheese. This is because the moisture content may vary due to the fact that cheese continues to dry out during Ripening while the solids stay constant. Since the percentage of fat in cheese is based solely on dry matter, a hard cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano with a fat content of 32 percent could provide more fat per ounce than a soft cheese such as Brie with a fat content of 45 percent.
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