A History of Cheese
Did you know that cheese is one of the oldest and most diverse foods in the world? Every major civilization in history has records of their creation and use of cheese.
- Archaeologists have discovered that as far back as 6000 BC cheese had been made from cow’s and goat’s milk and stored in tall jars.
- Egyptian tomb murals of 2000 BC show butter and cheese being made, and other murals which show milk being stored in skin bags suspended from poles demonstrate a knowledge of dairy husbandry at that time.
- Cheesemaking, thus, gradually evolved from two main streams. The first was the liquid fermented milks such as yoghurt, koumiss and kefir. The second through allowing the milk to acidify to form curds and whey. Whey could then be drained either through perforated earthenware bowls or through woven reed baskets or similar material.
- A legendary story has it that cheese was ‘discovered’ by an unknown Arab nomad. He is said to have filled a saddlebag with milk to sustain him on a journey across the desert by horse. After several hours riding he stopped to quench his thirst, only to find that the milk had separated into a pale watery liquid and solid white lumps. Because the saddlebag, which was made from the stomach of a young animal, contained a coagulating enzyme known as rennin, the milk had been effectively separated into curds and whey by the combination of the rennin, the hot sun and the galloping motions of the horse. The nomad, unconcerned with technical details, found the whey drinkable and the curds edible.