A Few Cheese Facts Possibly Worth Knowing

Normally, we know few if any of the cheese facts associated with the particular type of cheese we happen to be eating. All we know is that it either tastes good, or we’ll try something different next time. We associate:

  • Cheese with holes with the Swiss
  • Brie with the French
  • Limburger with the Dutch – the French make it as well
  • Cheddar with the USA

Some countries produce only one or two cheese types, others like France and Italy, produce a substantial number of different cheeses.

Unless you are a student of different cheeses and their history, knowing a few cheese facts can help make for interesting conversation, but if you go into too much detail, your company may soon begin to wish you, or they, were somewhere else.

Knowing which cheese goes well with a certain wine can make you a good host or dinner guest if you know what you’re talking about. Just bear in mind that individual taste always outweighs what one might consider the “proper” combination should be. And a 5th or 6th grader might be very interested in an explanation as to what curds and whey are, as they still may remember the words for the nursery rhyme. On the other hand, a dissertation on curds and whey will not go down well at a dinner party, or during a romantic candlelight dinner with someone you want to impress.

The purpose of the following cheese facts then is to provide you with a selection of potentially interesting and informative nuggets to pick and choose among and to research further where it seems warranted.

The cheese was most likely discovered, probably by accident, rather than invented. Most likely, someone left some milk out, forgot about it, and the milk coagulated. The individual may have been too hungry to throw it out, so tried it instead, and found it didn’t taste as bad as anticipated. Over the next 4,000 to 6,000 years, no one knows for certain how long, the art making of cheese from milk was slowly perfected.

Milk From Cows And Goats Accounts For Most Cheeses

  • Most cheese comes from cow’s milk, though there is plenty of goat cheese to be found. If you are in the cheese-making business, cow’s milk is generally more plentiful, or at least a cow can provide significantly more milk over time than can a goat. In the United States, most cheeses are made from Holstein milk, as Holstein is the most productive milk producer.
  • Some very good cheeses are produced in the United States. In fact, we produce about a quarter of the world’s cheese supply.
  • Most of our cheese comes from Wisconsin and California. New York, Minnesota and Oregon produce a fair amount as well.
  • The first cheese came to North America aboard the Mayflower.
  • There is no record of Native Americans eating cheese before that time, which makes sense as they didn’t have cows. There were buffalo, however, and buffalo milk can be used to make cheese, but only if the animal allows itself to be milked.
  • Besides cows, goats and buffalo, cheese can be, and has been, made from the milk or yaks, horses, and camels.

Eating Her Curds And Whey – Here are the cheese facts relating to curds and whey.

Technically, cheese is made from curds, which in turn are produced when milk coagulates into:

Lumps of protein (curds)

Floating a watery (whey)

The whey is often discarded, but is a healthy food item in itself, and some soft cheeses are preserved in whey until eaten, Greek feta cheese being an example. At one time, whey was kept and used in various kitchen recipes. Curds can be thought of as raw or unprocessed cheese. When we eat cottage cheese, we are eating curds.

What Do Kraft And Maytag Have In Common? – Some turn up their noses at the so-called processed cheeses, considering them a second class cheese.

Processed cheeses, which usually come in slices, are often called American cheese. Processed cheese is melted cheese to which milk and butter have been added, and sometimes a flavoring agent as well, and then pasteurized. A gentleman named J. L. Kraft introduced processed cheese to the marketplace. He did so in 1915.

Although processed cheese has been with us for nearly a century, packaged shredded cheese is a relative newcomer, first introduced in 1958.

Another household name associated with the cheese world might surprise you. It’s Maytag. One of this country’s better-known Blue cheese is Maytag Blue, and it is made by the same family who made the Maytag washers and dryers a household name.

Wrapping It Up – Here are a few final cheese facts:

If you sell cheese, you’re not a cheese salesman; you’re a cheese monger – right up there with the fish monger, and the war monger.

The best known cheeses of France, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, and the United States, are Camembert, Emmental, Havarti, Gjetost, Gouda, and Cheddar, respectively.

The Norwegian Gjetost is a goat milk cheese – delicious, but it sticks to the roof of your mouth.