Discover your favorite string cheese in this a-peel-ing taste test you can do with your friends and family.
Today, you and your friends or family will practice being professional tasters. You’ll taste different brands of string cheese and determine which one is your winner by rating them based on their flavor, their texture, and how well they peel into strings (their function).
Before you start tasting, take a minute to think about string cheeses you’ve eaten in the past.
Ask an adult—or a friend or family member—to be the Tasting Organizer. This is an important job! They will be in charge of setting up the tasting. The Tasting Organizer should:
Meanwhile, each taster needs 1 sheet of blank paper. Using a marker or pen, divide the paper into the same number of sections as string cheese samples you’ll be tasting. Label the sections “Sample 1,” “Sample 2,” “Sample 3,” and so on, depending on how many samples you have.
Make sure each person has a glass of water and 2 crackers or a slice of sandwich bread—these are to help cleanse your palate in between tastes.
Next, the Tasting Organizer should cut whole string cheeses in half so there are enough pieces for each taster to have half of a string cheese from each brand. (Be sure to save at least 1 whole string cheese from each brand for testing its stringiness later).
The Tasting Organizer should lay out the string cheese halves on each taster’s sheet of paper, placing a half piece of the first brand in section 1, a half piece of the second brand in section 2, and a half piece of the third brand in section 3.
Give each person a copy of the Tasting String Cheese scoring sheet to keep track of tasting notes.
Time to taste!
Give each sample a Flavor Score and a Texture Score based on what you thought of its flavor and texture. Remember: A higher score means you liked it more!
Next, as a group, test the function of each string cheese. Starting with a whole string cheese from brand 1, take turns pulling strings off the cheese. Try pulling thicker strings and thinner strings. Observe how easy it is to pull strings off the cheese and how easy it is to control the size of the strings you pull. Repeat with brands 2 and 3. (The Tasting Organizer should keep track of which string cheese belongs to each brand.)
Give each string cheese a Function Score based on your observations, starting with Sample 1. Think about:
Calculate the Overall Score for each string cheese by adding your Flavor, Texture, and Function Scores.
Time to pick a winner! Which of your samples had the highest overall score? That’s your winning string cheese. Look at the key (made by the Tasting Organizer) to see which brand matches your winning sample.
Have you ever wondered why you can easily pull string cheese into strings, but you can’t do the same thing with other cheese sticks, such as those made from cheddar or Monterey Jack? It has to do with the type of cheese and the way the cheese is made.
String cheese is mozzarella cheese. That’s right—it’s the same cheese that pulls into melty strings when you take a bite of pizza.
Mozzarella cheese, like all cheeses, contains protein molecules. To make mozzarella, cheese curds (made from milk and something called rennet) are pulled and stretched. Then, the cheese is shaped—you might see balls or blocks of mozzarella at the grocery store. Blocks or balls of mozzarella can be peeled apart because the stretching helps the cheese’s protein molecules line up. But those mozzarella shapes won’t pull apart into strings.
To make string cheese, the mozzarella is stretched and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d even more before it’s shaped into ropes. That extra stretching lines up the protein molecules even more, making the cheese extra string-able!
Now that you’ve made some observations about the flavor of different brands of string cheese, see if your observations line up with what it says on the packaging.
For example, did any brand of string cheese taste very salty? If so, look at how much salt (also called sodium) it has. You can find this information on the package’s nutrition label. Do the brands of string cheese that tasted saltier have more sodium listed on their nutrition labels?
The amount of sodium listed on the nutrition label is for one serving of string cheese—one stick of cheese. The serving size is always listed at the top of the nutrition label. This helps you compare the nutritional information of different brands.