THE HISTORY OF CHEESE According to the International Dairy Foods Association, or IDFA, there are ancient records that say the history of cheese dates back more than 4000 years. There is no record of the first person to make cheese. Legend says that an Arabian merchant made it accidentally when he put his supply of milk into a pouch made from a sheep's stomach. The milk along with the rennet of the stomach lining and the heat of the sun separated the milk into curds and whey. The merchant was satisfied and delighted by the flavor of the cheese curds. Asian travelers are believed to have brought the art of cheesemaking to Europe.
The Romans brought it to England as cheese was made in many parts of the Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages cheese was made and improved by the monks of Europe. Gorgonzola was made in the Po Valley, in Italy in 879 A. D. During the 10th century, Italy was the cheesemaking center of Europe. At the monastery in Conques, France records of Roquefort were found from as early as 1070. Cheesemaking developed a strong presence in Europe and became an established food. The Pilgrims even included cheese in the Mayflower's supplies during the voyage to America in 1620.
Although the making of cheese spread quickly throughout the New World, it wasn't until 1851 that the first cheese factory was built in Oneida County, New York. The factory was built by Jesse Williams. The demand for cheese increased as the population in the United States grew and moved westward. In 1845 a group of Swiss immigrants settled in the rich farm lands of Wisconsin and began to produce foreign cheese. Farmers believed that their survival depended on cheese and the first Limburger plant opened in 1868. This created the cheese industry and it boomed during the latter half of the 1800s. By 1880 there were 3,923 dairy factories nationwide which were reported to have made 216 million pounds of cheese that year, totaling $17 million. This only represented 90% of the cheese production that year. By the 1900s, small farm cheese production was so insignificant, that the census only reported on the factory cheese productions.
Currently, more than one-third of all milk produced each year in the U.S. is used to manufacture cheese. The industry constantly grows as the consumer appetites for all types of cheese continue to expand.
Different types of cheese Asiago cheese is a nutty flavored cheese that hails from Europe. It is named for a region in Italy where it was first produced. This region is known as the Asiago High Plateau, which lies within the Italian Alps. Asiago cheese is produced in two forms as follows: fresh Asiago, also known as Pressato, and mature Asiago, which is called Asiago d´Allevo. Fresh Asiago has an off-white color and is milder in flavor than mature asiago. Mature asiago also has a more yellowish color and is somewhat grainy in texture.
Blue cheese is a general classification of cow's milk, sheep's milk, or goat's milk cheeses that have had Penicillium cultures added so that the final product is spotted or veined throughout with blue, blue-gray or blue-green mold, and carries a distinct smell. Some blue cheeses are injected with spores before the curds form and others have spores mixed in with the curds after they form. Blue cheese was initially produced in caves Blue cheeses are typically aged in a temperature-controlled environment such as a cave. The characteristic flavor of blue cheeses tends to be sharp and a bit salty. Due to this strong flavor and smell, blue cheeses are often considered an acquired taste. They can be eaten by themselves or can be crumbled or melted over foods.
Cheddar cheese originated in the village of Cheddar, England. A firm, cow's milk cheese that ranges in flavor from mild to sharp and in color from a natural white to pumpkin orange. Orange cheddars are colored with annatto, a natural dye. Canadian cheddars are smoother, creamier, and are known for their balance of flavor and sharpness. Cheddars vary in flavor depending on the length of aging and their origin. As cheddar slowly ages, it loses moisture and its texture becomes drier and more crumbly. Sharpness becomes noticeable at 12 months (old cheddar) and 18 months (extra old cheddar). The optimal aging period is 5-6 years; however, for most uses three-year-old cheese is fine and five-year-old cheddar can be saved for special occasions.
Cream cheese is considered to be a fresh type of cheese due to the fact that it is not aged. The flavor is subtle, fresh and sweet, but has a light tangy taste. At room temperature cream cheese spreads easily and has a smooth and creamy texture which makes it rich. It is made by adding cream to cow's milk which gives it richness but is not ripened, limiting its shelf life. Cream cheese is usually white in color and is available in low fat or non fat varieties.
Feta cheese is one of the oldest cheeses in the world and is said to be a product from Greece. Since October 2002 feta cheese has been formally accepted as a Greek only cheese Feta is soft cheese, and is made from sheep milk if a mixture of sheep and goat milk. More recently cow's milk has been used. Feta is white in color, is a bit sour to the taste and rich in aroma. Even though it is a soft cheese, it is also manufactured with a partially hard texture.
Goat cheese comes in a variety of forms, although the most common is a soft, easily spread cheese. Goat cheese can also be made in hard aged varieties as well as semi firm cheeses like feta. Goat cheese is especially common in the Middle East, Africa, and some Mediterranean countries, where the hardy goat survives in areas where cows cannot. Goat cheese is distinctive due to the tangy flavor of goat milk. Sometimes this flavor is very strong and some consumers find it disagreeable. In some cases, the flavor is sought after, and some dairies are well known for producing particularly goaty cheese. The strong flavor is caused by hormones, which will be reduced if milk producing nanny goats are kept away from male billies. In addition, like all animal products, goat milk is heavily influenced by what the goats are eating. Because goats have hardy digestive systems, they tend to eat many bitter plants that more delicate animals such as cows and horses will not.
Swiss cheese is the general name for numerous types of cheese that were initially prepared in Switzerland. Swiss cheese is made from cow's milk, is lightly flavored, sweet and nutty. Swiss cheese is known for being glossy, light or pale yellow and having large holes in it which is a result of carbon dioxide releases during the process of maturation.
Vegetarian cheese is cheese that is not curdled with rennet, which is an enzyme that exists naturally in animal stomachs. Rennet is the popular name used by cheese makers to coagulate milk, forming curds. Most vegetarian cheeses are coagulated with plants, fungi or bacteria. There are two types of rennet in use by cheese producers: microbial and vegetarian. Microbial rennet consists of enzymes that come from either bacterial or fungal origin. Many strict vegetarians prefer to avoid cheese with this kind of rennet altogether, even though animals are not involved in any way. There are specific plants that also have the enzymes essential to coagulate milk. Plants that have found more common use as coagulants are fig tree bark, thistle and mallow. There are around 2000 varieties of cheeses.
FAQ ABOUT CHEESE
What is the best way to store my cheese? Whatever the sort of cheese, stash it in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator, where the temperature is cold and stable. Use a fresh piece of plastic wrap or wax paper to rewrap cheese after each use. The length of time you can keep cheese also differs according to the variety; in general, the harder the cheese, the longer it will last.
What is rennet? Rennet is a complex of enzymes produced in the stomachs of ruminant mammals. Chymosin, its key component, is a protease enzyme that curdles the casein in milk. This helps young mammals digest their mothers' milk. Rennet can also be used to separate milk into solid curds for cheesemaking and liquid whey.
How long does Cheese last in the fridge? In general, the harder the cheese the longer it keeps. Of course, it lasts for a shorter period of time if it is not stored properly. But remember, cheese, like a lot of other dairy products, usually has a "sell by date" or a "best by date" which are simply the last date by which a manufacturer will vouch for a product's quality, not its safety. Because of this distinction, you may safely use cheese to compliment your favorite meals even after a "best by date" has lapsed.
videos how to make cheese
your cheese making experience
Recipes - The most commonly used cheese recipe is 'Mac n Cheese.'
Cheese as entertainment
Every summer and winter there are events taken place around the united states called the CheeseMonger Invitational. For NY, that event is taken place in the Larkin Cold Storage facility in Long Island City, NY. Which is home to the cheesemonger club, The Barnyard Collective. These events are held to establish an environment where cheese lovers and professionals and come and mingle, making contacts and establishing relationships with cheese makers for business reasons and just for pleasure as well.
Cheese Events and Classes There are many places around the NY area that offer classes and events. My favorite is the Barnyard Collective. While anyone can join, they focus on developing relationships with cheese professionals. Some of the events they've done are: Oktoberfest: Cheese and beer pairings from Germany. Dr. Paul Kindstedt who gave a lecture on the last 10000 years of cheese and humanity. He is considered a living legend in the cheese world. Judy Schad and Capriole Goat Cheese: Judy tells her origin story and samples (with beer and cider pairings) her goat cheeses. She is also considered a living legend and rarely visits New York. The events are affordable and easy to get to in Long Island City, NY.
Greenwich/ Fairfield Cheese Company does many events as well. In fact their series is called "Cheese School." Their shtick is to learn how to pair cheeses with foods, wines, and to challenge your palate to detect the subtleties between different cheeses. They have an active schedule of cheese courses. (puns), and was even named by the Yankee Magazine as a "2016 Best Attraction in Connecticut." Their classes take place at both of their stores, giving locals a chance to find a time best suited for their needs. Each class costs 50$ with a few exceptions of 100$. Cheese 101: Getting to know the basics. Perfect Pairings: Cheese and Wine: learning to pair wine with cheese. Italian Cheese Dinner with Pondini Imports: a 5 course meal with each course containing a Pondini cheese and Italian wine. & more.
This story encompasses my adventure into taking care of the Purchase cheese club, setting up cheese field trips, creating content for cheese producers, and diving deeper into the world I wish to call my own.
The first part of this was getting cheese producers to agree to have cheese club come visit their facilities. The first I spoke to was one of my all time favorite companies, Jasper Hill Cellars in Vermont.
I spoke to Jasper Hill over email and we set up dates, times, and activities for the club to do while we visited. We settled on a tour of the facility and a cheese tasting/lunch.
The next step was to set up a meeting with the PSGA advisor, since this is a club facilitated activity, and figure out how to get our bus! It was a lot easier than I thought and I was able to be out of the meeting in 8 minutes. For the bus- all I have to do is email the time we leaving, the date, the amount of traveling needed, the amount of people, and when we'd return, and that's about it. It'll be done. Then we have to pay, and we're good to go. The date cannot get here sooner.