Did you know that there are more than 1,800 types of cheeses in the world! Prior to the beginning of written history, cheesemaking was probably unintentionally found as fresh milk was being transported through ruminant organs like those of sheep, cows, goats, and buffalo. Before there was refrigeration, cheese was used to keep milk fresh for millennia. There is plenty of proof of early cheesemaking throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, despite the fact that the origin of cheese manufacture is unknown. Yes, there is a lot more history to the cheeses you devour from a pretty charcuterie cheese board, in pasta, or simply nibble on as a midnight snack from the fridge. So join us on this fascinating journey of the historically cheesy story of the beginning of our beloved cheeses to learn more about it.
Where It All Started
Around 8000 BC, with the beginning of the domestication of sheep, it is believed that the first cheese was discovered. The stomachs of ruminants naturally contain the enzyme rennet, which is utilized to produce cheese. It was common practice to store and transfer milk and other liquids using the animals’ bladder-like organs and leak-proof stomachs. The first types of cheese would have been created naturally by the milk curdling in warm summer temperatures without refrigeration with the rennet still present in the stomach lining.
These milk curds were squeezed, salt was added for enhanced preservation, and the result was the creation of what we now refer to as “cheese.” Warm conditions meant that almost all cheeses were consumed fresh and prepared daily, even with the addition of salt. Early Roman writings reveal how frequently cheese was consumed in antiquity. They ate a broad range of cheeses, and manufacturing cheese was already regarded as an art. For the Roman legions, they supplied hard cheese.
- Where Did The Word Cheese Come From?
Cheese is derived from the Latin word caseus, whose origins can be found in the Proto-Indo-European root kwat, which means to ferment or turn sour.
Evolution In The Form Of European Cheeses
Less salt was required for preservation when cheesemaking extended to Northern Europe’s cooler climates, resulting in creamier, milder cheese variants. Aged, matured, and blue cheeses were also created in these colder climates. Cheddar, gouda, parmesan, and camembert are just a few of the cheeses that were initially made in Europe throughout the Middle Ages and are now widespread throughout the world.
Modernization Of Cheese
It wasn’t until 1815 when Switzerland’s first cheese factory was constructed, that cheese began to be produced in large quantities. Soon after, researchers figured out how to generate rennet in large quantities, which led to explosive growth in the industrial production of cheese. Soft cheeses were made safer through pasteurization, which decreased the possibility of brucellosis, listeriosis, salmonellosis, and tuberculosis spreading. Pregnant women are advised not to consume soft-ripened cheeses or blue-veined cheeses because outbreaks from raw milk cheeses continue to occur.
The invention of processed cheese brought about a revolution alongside American industrial food. Natural cheese is combined with milk, emulsifiers, stabilizers, flavorings, and colors to create processed cheese. This affordable cheese product is now a favorite in America because it melts smoothly and reliably. During World War II, the manufacturing of processed cheese products soared. Since that time, processed cheese has regularly been consumed by Americans at a higher rate than natural cheeses.
Learn More About This Tasty Affair With Cheese Classes!
Many cheese businesses provide cheese tasting lessons for fun, and some may even provide seminars for crafting cheese. What are the choices for obtaining a fundamental cheese education, however, that goes beyond simply tasting or producing a batch of cheese, for those people whose interest in cheese lies somewhere between simple enjoyment and really running a dairy farm? Whether you’re interested in manufacturing cheese, selling it, or just adoring it, there is a place in the world that offers instructional cheese intensives designed to give you a broader understanding of cheese.
- The Academy Of Cheese
Surprised to know that an actual academy of cheese exists? Well, don’t worry you are not late for the party. We have got you covered as we let you in on this best-kept secret of this intriguing academy in the UK. The Academy, which is based in the UK but accepts students from all over the world, provides four levels of cheese certifications, from Associate to Master, it even has an online cheese library. Levels 1 and 2 can be done totally online or by independent study, while Levels 3 and 4 need a number of hours of fieldwork. The courses cover a range of cheese-related education. From the making process, maturing, trade, presentation, and industry knowledge, to tasting and identification. The Academy encourages food bloggers and sommeliers to pursue accreditation as well as anyone whose profession may involve cheese or whose passion is learning about cheese. It was developed by a prestigious industry association that included Mary Quicke of Quicke’s, a renowned cheesemaker who owns a British farmstead that has been in operation for many years.
- Cheese Events – They provide a complete program of events and masterclasses all year long to continue to encourage cheese education within the global population. Academy Friends receive free or discounted admission as well as the first choice for tickets to exclusive events with a limited number of attendees. And yes you guessed absolutely right! They hold cheese tasting events as well so they truly offer an exciting comprehensive package for a cheese connoisseur. Learn more about the history, evolution, and modernization of cheese with The Academy Of Cheese.
The Versatile Cheese
A huge comeback is being made by artisan cheese that is prepared by hand. Small farms and creameries all around the country are reviving traditional cheesemaking techniques. Specialty cheese shops, which have been previously dominated by imported artisan cheese, are now becoming increasingly popular with products that are created in-house and by hand around the world.
This brief history of cheese would fall short, without recognizing the accomplishments of two American women cheesemakers. In actuality, several female artisan cheesemakers, most prominently Mary Keehn (Humboldt Fog cheese) and Cindy Major (Vermont Shepherd cheese), were responsible for reviving the artisan cheese movement in the United States. There has never been a bigger difference between modern small-batch, artisanal cheeses, and mass-produced “cheese products.”
Fortunately, the art of making gourmet cheeses has experienced a renaissance over the past 30 years. This is thanks to the explosion of new farm-based cheesemakers who are producing the finest quality specialty cheeses in batch production while drawing inspiration from the history of cheese as well as the cheesemaking traditions. Hope this helped rekindle the lost passion for cheesemaking amongst cheese lovers and lit up a new light of curiosity among those who have not yet acknowledged this fine craft of the cheese industry. See you next time with another riveting story about history and heritage, until then happy cheesemaking!