What is Cheese?

Cheese is important for many people, yet no one really knows the history or what cheese is. So here it is.


Zoe Sauger, Editor-In-Chief

Cheese. Some people love it, and some people may hate it. Cheese has always been a staple in people’s diet, especially in Europe which transferred over to America during colonization. There is also a lot of cheese, in other words many different flavors of cheese. However, all cheese has a different history, but is made from the same fondation.

Cheese is often consumed on a daily basis, but what even is cheese? It is dairy for starters, so sorry for the lactose intolerant people, you sadly can not enjoy the wonderfulness of cheese. Cheese comes from milk; it goes through a process of splitting the protein from milk. The protein, whey, is taken away from the sort of solidified milk and the almost cheese is shaped and has added salt and goes through the aging process. Because the process of making cheese sort of uses bad milk, there are certain precautions the milk/cheese must go through. Making the milk acidify, helps to kill bacteria, and keep the cheese safe from going bad. Rennet is an enzyme, chymosin, which is used to get the texture of cheese, this is by producing a strong casein which allows for a strong curd. The rennet comes from the stomach of small mammals that have a milk based diet. It was originally used from calves but now rennet is genetically modified from fear of calve shortage. When cheese curds are separated from the whey protein, the curds are put in a controlled place to age/ripen for however long depending on the type of cheese. The aging process occurs form the breakdown of proteins into peptides then to amino acids- the breakdown of proteins are what give cheese it’s taste, the more the proteins are broken the more advanced the taste of the cheese is.

How was cheese first made? Cheese must have been invented by someone, but who? The process of making cheese dates back to around 4,000 years ago. Historians are not sure who made cheese. Legend says that it was an Arabian merchant who put milk in his pouch made of Lamb’s stomach, and let it stay throughout his travels in the desert. When he opened his pouch later that night it had created cheese, which he thought tasted good. This idea of cheese was spread to Europe where it really became important. Cheese was very popular in Rome, then was spread via Rome to England during the middle ages, it was soon a staple in the European diet. Why is Wisconsin the “cheese state”? Swiss settlers came to Wisconsin and started to make cheese. Wisconsin is perfect for cheese making because the land is very fertile there, which leads to many cows, which leads to milk, which leads to cheese. The first factory was opened in 1868 in Wisconsin, the people there saw a future in the cheese industry. This is true because the cheese industry is huge and very important.



photo courtesy of independent.co.uk