All About Cheese
Cheese is a
food made from the
sheep and other
mammals. Cheese is made by
curdling milk using a combination of
rennet (or rennet substitutes) and
Bacteria culture acidify the milk and play a role in
texture and flavor of most cheeses. Some cheeses also
molds, either on the outer
rind or throughout.
hundreds of types of cheese produced all over the world.
Different styles and flavors of cheese are the result of
using milk from various mammals or with different
butterfat contents, employing particular species of
bacteria and molds, and varying the length of aging and
other processing treatments. Other factors include animal
diet and the addition of flavoring agents such as
wood smoke. Whether the milk is
pasteurized may also affect the flavor. The yellow to
red coloring of many cheeses is a result of adding
annatto. Cheeses are eaten both on their own and cooked
as part of various dishes; most cheeses melt when heated.
For a few cheeses, the milk is curdled by
acids such as
lemon juice. Most cheeses, however, are acidified to a
lesser degree by bacteria, which turn
milk sugars into
lactic acid, followed by the addition of rennet to
complete the curdling. Rennet is an
enzyme mixture traditionally obtained from the stomach
lining of young
cattle, but now also laboratory produced.
Vegetarian alternatives to rennet are available; most
are produced by fermentation of the
fungus Mucor miehei, but others have been
extracted from various species of the
Cynara thistle family.
Cheese has served as a hedge against
famine and is a good travel food. It is valuable for its
portability, long life, and high content of
phosphorus. Cheese is a more compact form of nutrition
and has a longer shelf life than the milk from which it is
Cheesemakers can place themselves near the center of a
dairy region and benefit from fresher milk, lower milk
prices, and lower shipping costs. The substantial storage
life of cheese lets a cheesemaker sell when prices are high
or when money is needed.
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