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SHOPPING : Do Make Cheese; Don't Make Mayonnaise


Milking your own cow--or goat--may not be for everyone, but at least you can make your own cheese. The New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. has issued a catalogue that includes everything from starters and mold powders (you need these for blue, Gorgonzola and Stilton, among others) to containers that will produce traditional shapes--a log for chevre, large and small Gouda molds and so forth.

What looks like a winner is a gourmet soft cheese kit for making fromage blanc. This soft cheese can be used alone as a spread, combined with herbs for a dip, or substituted for cream cheese and ricotta. The big selling point is that you can tailor the cheese to your own dietary needs--eliminating salt, for example, and using skim milk to lower calories and cholesterol content.

And, if you do milk your own cow, the catalogue includes a home milk pasteurizer and cream separators so you can extract the rich stuff and turn it into butter, cream cheese and old - fashioned creamy ice cream.

The catalogue is $1, and the gourmet soft cheese kit is $15.95. For further information, contact the New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. , 85 Main St . , Box 85P, Ashfield, Mass. 01330. (413) 628-3808.

According to the National Cancer Institute, people should eat 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day. That's nice to know, but just how do you get those grams? Dashing through the supermarket, long list in hand, doesn't give much time for scanning products. The solution is to obtain a copy of "Rough It Up," a fiber scoreboard issued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. It's in the form of a poster, and a smart idea would be to tape it onto the refrigerator for reference.

Products are divided into 13 categories and ranked in order of fiber content. The categories are cereals; nuts and seeds; cakes, pastries and muffins; breads; crackers; fast foods; grains and pasta; frozen dinners and entrees; soups; vegetables; fruits and juices; cookies, candies and chips, and beans, peas and tofu.

Foods contain two types of fiber, the poster states. Soluble fiber may help lower blood cholesterol and control diabetes, but more research is required to prove this. Insoluble fiber is considered to help prevent such digestive problems as colon cancer, constipation and diverticulosis. The CSPI fiber scoreboard rates the products in terms of total fiber content but identifies foods that are known to contain at least 1 gram of soluble fiber.

For this week's shopping list, consider such fiber champions as Kellogg All Bran With Extra Fiber--it heads the cereal category; Ryvita High Fiber Crispbread in the cracker category and Arrowhead Mills Apple Oat Bran Muffin, the leader in cakes, pastries and muffins. Four brands of bread tie at 6 grams of fiber in a two-slice serving. But the scoreboard also takes into account fat content, and Roman Meal Light Oat Bran 'N Honey emerges the winner because it has the least fat--just 1 gram per serving.

If you were ordered to eat spinach as a kid "because it's good for you," keep on eating it, but for fiber choose a medium baked potato with skin. It's the top vegetable, providing 4.2 grams fiber and starred as a soluble fiber provider. Cooked spinach is 11th in the list of 26 vegetables, raw spinach is 16th, and raw cucumbers rank at the bottom, a position held by apple juice in the fruits and juices category.

The information on the foods was obtained from manufacturers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and from CSPI estimates.

To obtain "Rough It Up," send a letter to the center requesting a publications list, which includes an order form. The address is Center for Science in the Public Interest, 1501 16th Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036. There is no charge.

You've probably read lots of advice about keeping food safe during hot summer weather. And you may vaguely recall warnings about mayonnaise and other egg-based foods. But that doesn't mean you need to eliminate those handy jars of mayonnaise from your market list.

According to an advance release from "Food News for Consumers," a USDA publication, "the mayo that you buy at the store is not a food safety villain. It's been pasteurized, and actually, its high acid content slows bacterial growth." The bulletin goes on to warn that "home-made mayonnaise, which uses raw eggs, is never safe, not even for at-home consumption." And it notes that any mayonnaise-based salads transported to the beach or other picnic site should be kept on ice.

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