String cheese is cheese which peels away from itself in strips, rather than crumbling or breaking up. It is often eaten as a snack food, being particularly popular with children, and there are several different types of string cheese produced around the world. Many markets carry this dairy product in their cheese section, and it is also possible to purchase string cheese directly from a dairy, or to make it at home, in the case of people who are experienced with cheesemaking.
Most cheese does not peel away in strips because of the way in which it is made. For the most part, cheeses are created by curdling milk and then pressing the curds into a block. Depending on how the cheese is cured, the block may become soft and runny, or it may stay firm, in which case it crumbles or breaks apart unless it is cut. In the case of string cheese, the curds are worked into an elastic strip which can be braided or twisted for convenience, and this process creates a bundle of cheese fibers which can be teased apart into strings.
Several Eastern European nations make traditional versions of string cheese, as do some Middle Eastern countries. It is not uncommon to find an array of types available in these regions, including peppered cheese, smoked cheese, herbed cheese, and plain cheese. These cheeses can be eaten as snacks, added to sandwiches, served with fruit, shredded for salads, or prepared in cooked dishes.
Cow, sheep, and goat milk can all be used in the production of string cheese, creating a variety of flavors from a very creamy, buttery cheese to a sharp, tangy one. The texture of string cheese is usually firm and resilient, with some cheeses splitting apart and feeling thready in the mouth. Many cheese shops are happy to cut small samples for people to taste, so that consumers who are thinking about buying an unfamiliar cheese can find out what it tastes like before committing.
In the United States, the product which most people think of as string cheese is mozzarella cheese which has been worked into the form of a thin log. String cheese logs are especially popular in children's lunches, where they provide an excellent source of protein and calcium. In some Italian-American communities, braided mozzarella is also available, with consumers pulling the braid apart so that they can use the cheese.