cheeseCheese; It’s a staple used in main dishes, sides, and even desserts all over the world. Cheese comes in many forms and varieties, from Muenster to ricotta and from blue cheese to string cheese. Everybody has their favorite. But where does it all come from? When did cheese become a part of the human diet and how did it develop through the years? After all, cow and goat milk was intended for calves and kids. When was it that someone discovered the possibility of taking that milk and making it into something uniquely created for human consumption?


Thousands of years ago, sheep were domesticated for the production of milk. Cows were later domesticated and also used for milk production. Milk from these animals has been consumed by human beings for at least 8,000 to 10,000 years.


One theory that might explain the discovery of cheese is milk being stored in the stomachs of animals. Just as animal bladders were used for many years for storing water, it is quite possible that milk could have been stored in stomachs. Enzymes dwelling in the lining of the stomach could have begun to curdle the milk, deriving soft cheese. Or, when milk began to curdle on its own, people could have added salt to preserve it, which would have encouraged the development of cheese.


Either way, by the time of the Roman Empire, cheese making was a common practice throughout all of Europe, with a tremendous trade market involving several types of cheese. In Egypt, burial tombs predating 2000 B.C. contain murals depicting the making of cheese. And the Greeks mention cheese making in their mythology.  Thus it is clear that cheese has been around for a very long time.


Until recently, most cheese was made and consumed at home. Farms of all sizes and even humble cottages contained simple cheese-making equipment and most societies considered it somewhat of a delicacy. Eventually, however, it was realized that it could be an excellent product for manufacture. The first cheese factory was founded in Switzerland in 1815. Today, cheese is mass-marketed and produced on such a large scale that almost all people in most industrialized nations have access to cheese.