Cheese is considered a staple in many cultures, especially throughout Europe and Middle East and is one of the most widely consumed foods around the world along with rice, meat, fish, eggs and milk.
Cheese, this so much loved dairy product, dates back to ancient time and it is an incredible popular food.
Cheese, adds flavour and texture to a wide variety of meals and when eaten in moderation it can make a nutritious addition to a wholesome well-balanced diet.
But since it is so popular around the world and with so many varieties available in the market, it can be really confusing to know what types of cheese are the best for our health.
Before understanding what types of cheese are the best for our health, first let’s go a little bit back in time and see how cheese was invented.
The word “cheese” is derived from the Latin word “caseus” that means “to ferment”.
Historically cheesemaking involves a fermentation technique that was used to prolong the life of fresh milk.
Now around the world, there are used different types of milk to make cheese: cow, goat, sheep, camel, yak, buffalo, bison, including even horse milk.
How the cheese is made?
To make the cheese, first need to add to the milk a culture of bacteria which digests the lactose (milk sugars) and turns it into lactic acid.
Then an enzyme called rennet is added to curdle the milk.
This rennet is found in the stomachs of young cows, sheep and goats but you can also find some vegetarians alternatives now.
But think a little bit: how it was possible in ancient times to discover that this enzyme called rennet which is found in the stomachs of young cows by adding it to the cows milk will help to curdle the milk and make the cheese?
How they did this connection?
The stomach of a young cow and the milk of his mother…This is crazy.
But thinking that back then, the internal organs of the animals were used as storage for foods (including my grandma used to do the sausages using the pork’s intestines, which was if you wish the way to store the meat), it is probable that the process of cheese making was discovered accidentally by storing milk in a container made from the stomach of an animal, resulting the milk being turned into curd and whey by the rennet from the stomach.
Sometimes from accidents in the kitchen are borne the most delightful dishes. I guess this was the case too.
However, after the rennet is added to curdle the milk, the watery whey is then removed, leaving clumps of casein.
Then is added salt and the product is pressed into moulds and left to dry or age for varying amounts of time.
The ageing process is a form of fermentation which can take from a few weeks to years, depending on the type of cheese.
Types of fresh and aged cheeses
A few types of fresh cheeses, made from fresh curds that have not been pressed or aged, known around the world: Cream cheese, Feta, Mozzarella, Burrata, Ricotta, Robiola, Stracchino, Mascarpone, Paneer, Cottage cheese, Halloumi, Brie.
A few types of aged cheeses known around the world: Cheddar, Gruyere, Manchego, Gouda, Parmesan-types like Parmigiano-Reggiano and Grana Padano, Asiago, Pecorino Romano, Emmental / Swiss Cheese, Monterey Jack, Bleu cheese.
I am a cheese lover and I like them all 😉😋
What is your favourite?
The nutritional content, taste and texture of a particular cheese is largely dependent on the type of milk and bacteria used, and how the cheese was produced.
Did you know?
According with a 2018 scientific paper, the world’s oldest cheese, dating to approximately 1200 BCE which is 3200 years before present, was found in ancient Egyptian tombs.
Join me next time and let’s see which cheese is better, natural or processed? Whole-milk cheese or reduced or low-fat milk cheese?
What are the health benefits of cheese or contraindications?