Monday, May 02, 2016

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International Battle of the Kosher Cream Cheese

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

20160502_112056The taste of home.  If you are from America and keep kosher, chances are you use Philadelphia Cream Cheese.  Tastes of the generations changed and rather than the hard block of cream cheese, the newer “whipped” became popular.

If you are in America and keep glatt kosher (in it’s colloquial meaning – higher level kosher, not in it’s strict meaning relating to shechita), you won’t use Philadelphia Cream Cheese because it’s not cholov Yisroel (without getting into the details - a standard of kosher in milk).  Fortunately there are companies that address this market need and replicate popular market products with up-level kosher-standard products for the glatt level US kosher market.  J&J is such a brand.

In Israel these up-level kosher-standard products are not imported from the US, that market segment is filled by the Israeli dairy companies.  But cream cheese has been an American thing and wasn’t produced by any of the Israeli companies…leading some ambitious importer to bring in Philadelphia Cream Cheese…block style (guess it’s smaller and lasts longer?)  Which is not an acceptable kosher level for the up-level kosher-standard keepers (that’s me!)

(Wow, way to wordy-explanatory.  But I’m not going back and deleting it.)

Fortunately the Israeli companies brought a series of cream cheese onto the market about 7 years ago, iterating through slightly different consistencies and added flavors until they arrived at a popular standard… “Fat Cheese – 25%”, “Fat Cheese 18%”, and “Fat Cheese with Flavors (Dill, Garlic or Onion) 16%”.

Anyway…somebody decided for Passover to bring in the up-level kosher product, and we have in hand one container of J&J (Philadelphia Style) Whipped Cream Cheese – at 2 1/2 times the cost of the local product.  So we can now do an actual side by side comparison of Israeli (Fat) Cream Cheese and US Cream Cheese.

20160502_112158

1. Consistency:  The Israeli product is a little looser, and gets some separation after some days open.  The American product is more fluffy, but I was surprised at the gummy feel of the texture.

2. Color:  The Israeli product was very bright white.  The American product had a slight yellow or tan tinge to it. 

3. Taste:  (of the plain product)  The Israeli product has a milky creamy taste with a bit of sourness like sour cream.  The American product has a creamy cream taste.

4. Mouth Feel:  The Israeli product is pleasant and smooth, with a hint of wetness.  The American product is soft but slightly gummy.

In a side by side I was surprised to note the bit of sourness of the Israeli product, and the gummy feel of the American product – neither taste that I would have noticed without a side by side comparison. 

I’m surprised to say I’ll stick with the Israeli product even with the arrival of the American which formerly graced our table.

1 comments:

Neshama said...

That's so interesting. Because I also did the taste test, as I met someone in my neighborhood (I am assuming it was really the same person who 'smuggled' in the J&J to Rehavia and Beit Shemesh) Superfresh market and she was putting J&J on the shelf. We exchanged pleasantries and I queried why she had brought it all the way from America. She said her relative brought it in. So, because I LOVE cream cheese I decided to buy one and give it the taste test. Of the three you featured, one plain, one olive, and the J&J, I decided also that the grey tub of cream cheese was the best. Of course, I'm prejudiced; it was the Israeli cream cheese that has finally achieved the impossible – a delicious creamy not too sweet and great textured cream cheese. I have tried many cheeses here to try to find a replacement for Philadelphia Brand cream cheese, but not until I found this one was I satisfied. (PS Philly brand is still the leader)

But why did they have to name it Napoleon?

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