Longhorn cheese is not a type of cheese, but rather describes its milk source, shape and aging process. Longhorn cheese is made from cows' milk rather than goat or sheep and can be either mild or sharp, but is typically a Colby or jack cheese. The process to shape and package all longhorn cheese is the same; however, the texture and aging time differs depending on the type of cheese itself.
The misconception concerning Longhorn cheese is that this type of cheese is a particular flavor of cheese. Practically Edible clarifies this misconception by defining the word "longhorn" as an American term used to indicate the size, shape and weight of the cheese produced for aging. The shape of longhorn cheese before it is cut into salable sizes is a 1 1/2 foot long cylinder that weighs approximately 13 lbs.
The process to make a longhorn cheese is relatively simple. Once the cheese mixture is formed it is then wrapped in plastic and is aged according to the actual type of cheese it is (Colby etc.). The entire longhorn is then aged for the length of time required, after which the cylinder (or longhorn) is cut into half-moons to be sold.
Cheese.com reports that longhorn cheeses are described as mild to sharp in flavor with a firm to hard texture. The time length to age a longhorn cylinder of cheese is dependent upon the type of cheese being aged. Additionally, the time a cheese is aged will determine if it is considered sharp or mild in flavor. Mild cheeses for example are only aged for 2 to 3 months, whereas sharper cheeses can be aged for up to a year.
Cooking and Nutrition
Cheese.com reports that longhorn cheese is excellent to use as a cooking cheese because of its firmness and taste. Longhorn cheese is generally good to cook with because of its ability to melt well under heat as it has a higher fat content than low-fat cheeses, which normally melt better if they are shredded first. Additionally, Cheddar Facts reports that cheese in general is lactose free and can be consumed as a source of vitamin D for those lactose intolerant.
Modern Changes in Cheese Making
Although today's cheese makers wrap longhorn cylinders in plastic, cheese was originally wrapped in wax. The traditional purpose of the wax wrapping around cheese, which is recognizable by the classic yellow cheese wheel wrapped in red wax, is to seal the cheese air tight. Today, along with the plastic wrapping, gas flushing is a technique describe by Cheddar Facts that is used to remove the air so that the cheese will age without spoiling.