This article is part
of the Cuisine series
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There are over 400 types of cheese. Cheese is a solid food made from the curdled milk of various animals: most commonly cows but often goats, sheep, reindeer, and water buffalo. Rennet is often used to induce milk to coagulate, although some cheeses are curdled with acids like vinegar or lemon juice or with extracts of various species of Cynara (sometimes called vegetable rennet). Rennet is an enzyme traditionally obtained from the stomach lining of bovine calves or a microbiological (laboratory-produced) substitute is used. Bacteria are added to cheese to reduce the pH, alter texture, and develop flavor, and some cheeses also have molds, either on the outer skin or throughout.
The natural color of cheeses range from off-white to yellow. In some parts of the world, such as Wisconsin USA, the milk fat is low in beta-carotene, making the cheese a paler yellow than normal. In this case, it is common to add annatto plant dye as a coloring agent. Some cheeses are made with the addition of herbs and spices.
As a response to the loss of diversity in mass-produced cheeses, a cottage industry has grown up around home cheesemaking in some locations. In many European countries this has historically been the normal means of cheesemaking.
Different styles and flavors of cheese are the results of using different species of bacteria and molds, different levels of milk fat, variations in length of aging, differing processing treatments (cheddaring, pulling, brining, mold wash) and different breeds of cows, sheep, or other mammals. Other factors include milk, animal diet, and the addition of herbs and spices to some cheeses.
Some controversy exists regarding the safety of cheese made by the traditional methods of using unpasteurized milk and regarding how pasteurization affects flavor.
Styles of cheese
Major classes of cheese include:
- white mold cheese (e.g. Camembert)
- blue mold cheese (e.g. Roquefort)
- red surface bacteria cheese (e.g. Limburger)
- hard grating cheeses (e.g. parmesan)
- cheese with eyes (e.g. Swiss, or Emmental)
- pasta filata cheese (e.g. Mozzarella)
- hard cheese (e.g. Cheddar and Colby)
- semi-hard cheese (e.g. Edam and Gouda)
- soft, unripened cheese (e.g. Cottage cheese, quark, Mascarpone, Hoop cheese)
- sour milk cheese (e.g. Harzer)
- whey cheese (e.g. Brunost, Mysost, and Gjetost, Ricotta cheese)
In addition, there is a class of food known as processed cheese or cheese food. The most common form is the individual slice commonly used on cheeseburgers; although it is also sold in blocks or as a thick liquid. Processed cheese is similar to cheese, but also contains emulsifying salts acting as stabilizers. Heat treatment during the manufacturing process gives processed cheese a mild flavor, such as American cheese.
See also List of cheeses.
In 1546 John Heywood wrote in his Proverbes that "The moon is made of a greene cheese". Variations on this sentiment were long repeated. Some people have assumed that this was a serious belief in the era before space exploration, but Heywood was probably being sarcastic and others enjoyed repeating this as silly nonsense.
Because of the way saying the word makes one's mouth form a smile, in the USA and other English-speaking countries, the word cheese is said just before someone takes a picture.
The first factory for the industrial production of cheese opened in Switzerland on February 3, 1815. France and Italy are the nations with the most diversity in locally made cheeses - with approximately 400 each. According to a French proverb, there is a different French cheese for every day of the year.
The love of cheese is called Censored page.
Cheese expressions and quotes
- "Like chalk and cheese." — (An expression meaning completely different.)
- "A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman who has lost an eye." — Brillat-Savarin.
- "A slice of pie without cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze." — Anonymous
- "How can you govern a country where there are 246 different types of cheese?" — attributed to Charles de Gaulle
- "There's always free cheese in a mousetrap."
- Cheese Primer, Steven Jenkins, Workman Publishing Company, 1996, hardcover, ISBN 0894807625
- A Cheese alternative, clinically proven to reduce [[cholesterol ].]
- Cheesemaking.com -- Online educational information about how to make cheese.
- Complete Recipes: Cheese
- I Love Cheese.com
- University of Guelph Food Science Cheese Site --
- Cheese Research Group, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland Online technical information about cheese.