Wednesday, December 3, 2008
No matter how far archaeological finds go, there is evidence that cheese came into being in prehistoric times. Cheese can not really be said to have been
"invented". This delicious food must have resulted from the simple observation that milk left in a container ends up by coagulating, even more if it is hot.
People living in areas where the climate changed seasonally would also have noticed the effect of temperature on this process: in warmer weather the milk
would curdle faster than in the cold. This might be considered the first technological cheesemaking discovery.
There are hundreds of different types of cheese that can be differentiated both by the type of milk - raw, skimmed or pasteurised, and by the animal's milk -
cow, goat, sheep, buffalo, horse or camel.
KINDS OF CHEESE
Soft white cheeses
This is the simplest type of cheese. They are neither fermented nor matured. Their high moisture content, coupled with the high humidity, attracts and
encourages the growth of the classic white penicillium mould. This type of cheese is creamy and smooth. They are based on cow's milk, skimmed or
unskimmed, and sometimes enriched with cream.
These cheeses are neither pressed nor cooked. They are salted and seeded with Penicillium candidum that gives them their bloom (the white down that
takes on a golden aspect as it ages.)
The curd, which may or may not be cut depending on how soft the final cheese should be, is scooped into moulds and left to drain. The high moisture of the
curd and the humidity of the maturing rooms attract a bitter-tasting, grey, hairy mould called "cat fur". They are raw or pasteurised milk cheeses that come
from the north of France, the east of Belgium, Luxembourg and the western marches of Germany. The maturation period lasts from two to six months, then
the cheeses are washed in slightly salted brine. These cheeses are rather spicy and outrageously piquant in taste and aroma. They can smell yeasty or
Pressed, uncooked cheeses
For this type of cheese the raw or pasteurised milk is heated to 36 C and coagulated at a slightly lower temperature. The curds are fragmented into tiny
particles the size of rice grains and pressed through cloths to extract the whey. The maturation takes two to three months. The rind is brushed to obtain a
regular patina and prevent patches of humidity.
Pressed, cooked cheeses
Hard, pressed, cooked cheeses are virtually identical to the semi-hard, pressed, cooked cheeses. These cheeses are made using the evening's milk, left to
stand overnight and skimmed, mixed with that of the next morning. Maturation takes place in a cool, humid cellar, and lasts four to ten months, during
which the cheese is washed in a low-salt brine and scraped.
The blue mould is a strain of penicillium that is added to the milk before the rennet is added either in liquid or powder form. Most blue cheeses are normally
wrapped in foil to prevent them from drying out. They are neither pressed nor cooked. They are usually made from cow's milk.
These are mainly goat's and sheep's cheeses. When young, they have a slightly wrinkled, cream-coloured rind. In time they dry out, the wrinkles become
more pronounced and the character and flavour increases, along with the growth of bluish grey mould. Their taste is fresh, almost fruity, with undertones of
goat. To mature, these cheeses must be kept dry.
These are the result of melting one or more pressed, cooked or uncooked cheeses, and adding milk, cream, butter and sometimes flavouring agents. One or
several ripened cheeses are heated and mixed, then pasteurised at high temperature (130-140 C) after other dairy products, such as liquid or powdered milk,
cream, butter, casein, whey, and seasoning, have been added.
* Did you know that there are over 2,000 varieties of cheeses! Sureeee Enough! This information is heaven for us cheese lovers.
* Did you know the #1 cheese recipe in America is "Macaroni and Cheese"
* Did you also know that "Macaroni and Cheese" is on the Top 10 list of childrens favorite foods? Well it surrre isssss! It's everybody's childhood favorite and
its been served since the late 1700's.
* CHEESE HOLES: The most recognizable characteristic of Swiss cheese is its holes which punctuate the pale yellow exterior. These holes, also called
"eyes," are caused by the expansion of gas within the cheese curd during the ripening period.
* MOLD: Mold may develop on the surface of cheese. Although most molds are harmless, to be safe, cut away 1/2 inch of cheese on all sides of the visible
mold. Use remaining cheese as quickly as possible.
* Did you know that what appears to be the remains of cheese has been found in Egyptian tombs over 4,000 years old!
* Cheese was popular in ancient Greece and Rome, but fresh milk and butter were not. This was probably due to the fact that olive oil was available in the
Mediterranean area, where the climate would have spoiled milk and butter quickly.
* The terms "Big Wheel" and "Big Cheese" originally referred to those who were wealthy enough to purchase a whole wheel of cheese.
* Cheese takes up about 1/10 the volume of the milk it was made from.
* Greek historian Xenophon (430?-355? B.C.) mentions that goat cheese had been known for centuries in Peloponnesus.
* The first cheese factory to make cheese from scratch was started in Rome, New York in 1851 by Jesse Williams. He had his own dairy herd and purchased
more milk from other local farmers to make his cheese. By combining the milk and making large cheeses he could produce cheese with uniform taste and
texture. Before then, companies would buy small batches of home made cheese curd from local farmers to make into cheese, each batch of curds producing
cheese with wide differences in taste and texture from one another.
* Cheddar, Cheshire and Leicester cheeses have been colored with annatto seed for over 200 years. Carrot juice and marigold petals have also been used to
color cheeses. Coloring may have originally been added to cheese made with winter milk from cows eating hay to match the orange hue (from vitamin A) of
cheeses made with milk from cows fed on green plants.
* A giant wheel of Cheddar cheese was given to Queen Victoria (1837-1901) for a wedding gift. It weighed over 1,000 pounds. A normal Cheddar wheel
weighs 60-75 pounds.
* Almost 90% of all cheese sold in the United States is classified as a Cheddar type cheese.
* Chevre is French for goat and refers to cheese made from goat's milk.
* Americans are eating more cheese than ever. In 2003, American s consumed 8.8 billion pounds of natural cheese. On a per capita basis, the average
American ate 30.6 pounds of natural cheese in 2003. That's four pounds more per person than in 1994 and 19.5 pounds more than in 1970. Overall, Americans
ate 1.8 billion pounds more cheese in 2003 than in 1994. Approximately half of that increase was supplied by California, the fastest-growing cheese producer.
* Americans are stuck on mozzarella. It will be no surprise to pizza lovers that the single most frequently eaten cheese is Mozzarella, which recently edged
past Cheddar in popularity. Americans ate 2.8 billion pounds of gooey Mozzarella in 2003, the majority of which came from California, the country's largest
producer. Cheddar was a close second and we ate 2.7 billion pounds of that.
* Americans purchased $40 billion worth of cheese last year. The market value of all cheese consumed in the U.S. was nearly $40 billion in 2003. In addition
to supermarket sales, this includes cheese sold through restaurants and fast food outlets, as well as the cheese sold as ingredients in frozen and packaged
* America has 440 cheesemakers.This includes more than 350 producers of specialty, artisan and farmstead cheeses. While most states have at least one
cheese plant, more than two-thirds of the specialty cheesemakers in the country are located in just three regions - California, Wisconsin and New England.
Many cheesemakers now invite visitors to stop by and sample cheese and learn more about Cheesemaking practices. For a visitor's map to California
Posted by Princessa at 12/03/2008 06:44:00 PM