Switzerland first realized the benefits of producing cheese in a factory setting in 1815, producing large enough quantities to sell to the community. This was a profitable idea, since most people at the time were working hard to make their own cheese at home amidst all their other labors, so cheese was usually a rare treat. Once it was manufactured on a larger scale, however, more people were able to enjoy cheese on a regular basis.
The success of cheese manufacture in Switzerland inspired the same in the America. During the 1600s, Puritan women brought their home cheese-making skills with them when they immigrated to America from England. At that time, it was mainly the women who made the cheese, using the cream of the milk for butter making and the skim milk for cheese making. It was challenging and tedious work.
In addition to milk and vinegar, there is another major ingredient used in making milk. Starter is a compilation of bacteria that helps develop the cheese and give it that distinctive cheese flavor. Different microorganisms can produce different flavors. While fresh whole milk contains its own bacteria that can turn the milk to cheese, it can also contain some harmful microorganisms that are easily killed by pasteurization. Then the starter can be added to put back in the beneficial bacteria without any of the harmful variety.
Once the starter is added, it takes some time for the bacteria to get to work and make the change from milk to cheese. Sometimes the starter used is cultured buttermilk, but this can provide inconsistent results. It is best to use something like a mesophilic starter specifically sold for cheese making.
Cheese begins with milk, as most people know. But vinegar is a key ingredient that really gets the process going. Vinegar is what encourages the milk to curdle and give cheese an acidic flavor. Before vinegar, bacteria was used to produce the acid. Using bacteria is a lengthier process and the cheese continues to increase in flavor as it ages. Some of the most expensive cheeses are still made with acid-producing bacteria instead of vinegar.
Many cheeses can be made with vinegar, including the simplest of all, cottage cheese. Cottage cheese does not require rennet, which is an enzyme that helps to harden the cheese curds. This enzyme is derived from calf stomachs, as they have natural enzymes for processing cow milk. But rennet, as well as acid-producing bacteria, is temperature sensitive and requires several steps in processing.
Cheese; 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.