Highlights Of Cheese History Dating Back Over 5,000 Years
It’s no surprise that cheese has been around for a long time. With estimates ranging from 5,000 years to 10,000 years old, cheese is actually older than history. The most accepted version of its origin is that it was likely the way that already sour milk was preserved.
By waiting for the sour milk to separate, the solids could be removed, pressed and salted and then eaten. This probably happened in the Middle East. These early cheeses were probably very salty and acidic. At a later point someone discovered that milk stored in the stomach of a calf became better cheese and rennet, the enzyme that helps digest milk entered cheese history.
Ancient to Modern
Once cheese traveled to cooler climates, salt and acid became a little less important, allowing microbes and mold to become part of the flavoring of aged cheeses. Cheese was important in ancient Greece and Rome. Cheese making was mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. According to cheese history, the art of making cheese was established by the time the Roman Empire came into power.
The methods used to turn a variety of milk into a array of cheeses are similar to those used today. Cheese was considered part of an everyday diet. The Roman process of making cheese spread throughout the known world. When the Empire declined and fell, cheese history moved forward. As long-distance trade fell off, local cheese makers began to develop more diverse cheeses and processes. France and Italy take their place in cheese history by having the greatest varieties of cheeses: about 400 each.
In the modern section of cheese history, the big event was the industrialized production of cheese. The first cheese factory opened in Switzerland in 1815. Larger scale production was established in the United States with its first assembly-line cheese factory in 1851. The necessary cheese ingredient, rennet, began being mass produced a decade later.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, science was able to add pure microbial cultures to the mix. Traditional cheese making was overshadowed by factory cheese making around World War II. Today, cheese history records the fact that the majority of cheese is factory made. In America, more processed cheese is bought than any other kind. Processed cheese is a mixture of regular cheese – usually scraps – some unfermented dairy products, emulsifiers for more even melting, extra salt and various food colorings.