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Interesting facts about cheese: usefulness, production, classification


Cheese is made from the milk of livestock: cows, goats, sheep, buffaloes. It usually has a light yellow or white color. Mold in moldy cheeses can be white, bluish green, or dark red in color.

Hundreds of varieties of cheese are made around the world. Their type, consistency and aroma depend on the origin of the milk (including animal nutrition), whether it has been pasteurized, fat content, bacteria and mold, processing, conditions and length of maturation. As flavorings can use herbs, spices or wood smoke. The yellow and red color of many cheeses is due to the addition of annatto.

Cheese can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner. In some nations, spicy cheeses are served for dessert, before fruit.

Cheese is an ancient food product whose origin, predating recorded history, is thought to lie in the technology of transforming certain types of milk into cheese heads made using rennet derived from the stomach (abomasum) of ruminants. Until now, there is no convincing evidence indicating where exactly the technological process of making cheese (cheesemaking) originated – in Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East or the Sahara. The oldest estimated date for the start of cheese making dates back to 8000 BC, when sheep were first domesticated.

Interesting facts about cheese: usefulness, production, classification



Usefulness of cheese

Cheese is one of the most high-calorie foods. Cheeses are distinguished by a high content of proteins (up to 25%), milk fat (up to 60%) and minerals (up to 3,5%, not counting table salt).

Cheese proteins are better absorbed by the body than dairy proteins. The extractive substances of cheeses have a beneficial effect on the digestive glands, stimulate appetite. The nutrients contained in cheese are absorbed by the body almost completely (98-99%).

Cheese contains vitamins A, D, E, B1, B2, B12, PP, C, pantothenic acid and others. Depending on the content of fat and protein, the energy value of cheese varies significantly. Cheese is a kind of milk concentrate: proteins, fats, minerals are contained in it in approximately the same proportions, it has a high content of calcium and phosphorus, which are found in cheese in an optimally balanced ratio.

This product is a must in the diet of children, teenagers, pregnant women, and people who spend a lot of energy during the day.

Hard cheeses also help keep your teeth healthy. This product prevents the bacteria living in the mouth from producing acid that destroys tooth enamel.

Interesting facts about cheese: usefulness, production, classification



About cheese production


Milk and fat content

Various types of cheese are made from pasteurized or raw milk from cows, goats, sheep, buffaloes or mares. The fat content of cheese can be either less than 10% or more than 70% in dry matter. By fat content, cheeses are divided into fat-free, light, normal, double and triple fat.



In addition to milk, cheese may contain rennet or acid, under the action of which milk coagulates (rennet or sour-milk cheeses). During ripening, different types of mold, microorganisms or bacteria can act in the cheese. Sometimes cheese mites or even insect larvae are planted in the cheese head. The column "Sourdough" indicates the type of leavening element, as well as the type of bacteria or other microorganisms added during cheese production (usually during ripening).


Manufacturing process

Each type of cheese is made according to its own technology. The general principle of making cheese is usually the same: milk is prepared, rennet is used, the cheese mass is collected, filtered, stirred, heated; then the cheese is salted and ripened. Some cheeses add mold or bacteria.

And about where the fools who are called "eyes" come from in the cheese, we will tell in a separate article.

Interesting facts about cheese: usefulness, production, classification

Cheese production | wikimedia.org



Very often, the name of the cheese refers to the place where this type of cheese was first made. Sometimes cheese is named after the person who invented the method of making it. The name of the cheese may reflect some of its characteristic features – the shape of the head or texture.

Some varieties of cheese are registered to control the authenticity of origin. The certificate guarantees that this cheese is produced in a strictly defined area in compliance with strictly defined rules. In France, such a certificate is called Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC), in English-speaking countries – Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), in Italian – Denominazione di Origine Protetta (DOP), in Spanish – Denominación de origen (DO). Next to the designation of the protected status of the cheese variety, the year of registration is indicated.



Numerous food safety agencies around the world warn of the dangers of using raw milk and the risk associated with eating cheese that has not been pasteurized or otherwise disinfected. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims that consuming raw milk or making soft cheese or other cheeses from raw milk can lead to "serious infectious diseases, including listeriosis, brucellosis, salmonellosis, and tuberculosis." Under US law, all cheeses made from raw milk in the US since 1944 (and including imports since 1951) must be aged for at least 60 days. In addition, there is still a wide ban on the production of cheeses from raw milk in Australia, although in recent years exceptions have been made for both the Swiss ones: Gruyère (Gruyère), Emmentaler (Emmentaler) and Sbrinz (Sbrinz), and for the French Roquefort cheese. (Roquefort).

There is now a trend around the world to pasteurize cheeses, even when it is not required by law. However, whether cheeses must be pasteurized is a controversial issue. One of the arguments against is that pasteurization can change the taste of cheese. Throughout the world, it is often believed that unpasteurized cheeses have the best tasting qualities and this is already a reason not to subject all types of cheeses to the pasteurization process. In addition, according to some authors, health issues are associated with excessive requirements, or it has been argued that the production of cheese from pasteurized milk does not ultimately ensure the safety of the finished product.

Pregnant women can also face additional risks and challenges when consuming traditional cheeses. For example, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns of the dangers to pregnant women associated with eating soft cheeses and mature (hard) cheeses with blue veins due to the risk of developing listeriosis, which can lead to miscarriage or harm the health of the fetus. time of delivery.

Interesting facts about cheese: usefulness, production, classification


Interesting facts about cheese: usefulness, production, classification



Cheese classification

There are many varieties of cheese in the world. About 500 different varieties of cheese are officially recognized by the International Federation of the Dairy Industry.

By appearance, cheeses are divided into fresh, soft with a delicate crust (with white mold), soft with a washed crust, cheeses with blue mold (blue cheese), pressed and boiled-pressed. Other types of cheese are whey-albumin, albumin, processed, and also falling into several categories. Rare types of cheeses are German sour milk cheese and Norwegian brown cheese (bryunost).

According to the production technology, cheeses are divided into hard, soft, pickled and processed (processed).

Depending on the raw materials and method of production, cheeses are divided into five main types, which we will now consider.


1. Rennet cheeses

Rennet (chymosin) is a digestive enzyme of animal origin, which was isolated from the stomachs of calves (after slaughter). The age of such calves is usually no more than 10 days. Rennet is used to curdle milk and make cheeses.

With the development of genetic engineering, it has become possible to extract the genes responsible for the production of chymosin from animals and insert them into some bacteria, fungi or yeast so that they produce chymosin during fermentation. Genetically modified microorganisms cease to exist after fermentation, and chymosin is isolated from the culture fluid, for this reason, the cheese does not contain any GMO component or ingredient.

Products based on recombinant chymosin have been on the market since 1990. Over the next 30 years, they began to be seen as ideal enzymes for curdling milk. So, for example, by 1999, about 60% of hard cheeses in the United States and up to 80% worldwide were produced using recombinant chymosin.

Depending on the method of production, hard, soft and brine cheeses can be distinguished among rennet cheeses.

  • By hardness, cheeses are divided into fresh, semi-hard cut, hard cut and hard.
  • Soft cheeses tend to be soft, fatty, and covered with a light, white moldy rind. Curd mass of pale yellow color. After curdling the milk with rennet, it is pressed, dried, salted and treated with a fungus solution. After some time during ripening, a white crust forms on the surface of the cheese, which is, in fact, a manifestation of a colony of the bacterium Penicillium camemberti. This process takes from 2 to 6 weeks.
  • The main difference between brine cheeses is that they ripen and are stored in brine, do not have a rind, eyes (cheese holes) are small of various shapes, the dough is brittle, the mass fraction of fat is 40–45%, salt is 7% (Ossetian cheese, Suluguni , cheese, etc). Pickled cheeses are divided into soft and hard. In Europe, pickled cheeses are very popular, similar to the traditional Greek Feta cheese, the fat content of which can exceed 50%. Unlike the classic recipe, they are made from cow's milk. However, producers from countries outside Greece, which has reserved this trademark for itself, tend to give their products a name similar to the Greek (fetaki, fetaksa, sirtaki, etc).

Interesting facts about cheese: usefulness, production, classification

Feta cheese | freepik.com


2. Sour-milk cheeses

Sour-milk natural cheeses are made from skimmed milk fermented with lactic acid starter. After maturation (1-1,5 months) mixed with salt and spices. The cheese mass is dried and molded. The cheese has no pattern. The most common cheese is sour-milk green grater.

Cheeses are subdivided into grated (green cheese), cottage cheese and unripe cottage cheese.

Processed (processed) cheeses are produced by melting rennet sour-milk natural cheeses with the addition of cottage cheese, sour cream, milk, butter, spices and fillers (cocoa powder, coffee, vanillin, etc).

Processed cheeses are sweet, pasty, sausage, canned, with mushrooms, with onions and elite, very expensive varieties with salmon, walnuts.

Processed cheeses, being a recycled product, packed in foil or in sealed packages, have a longer shelf life and are less sensitive to temperature extremes. This allows to increase the marketable season of processed cheese and its distribution areas.

Interesting facts about cheese: usefulness, production, classification

Processed cheese | freepik.com


3. Whey cheeses

Whey cheese is made from cheese whey, formed as a by-product of cheese making. After the production of most cheeses, about 50% of the nutrients remain in the whey, including most of the lactose and lactalbumin. The production of whey cheese makes it possible to use whey efficiently, instead of sending it to waste.

Whey cheeses are most often soft, with a delicate taste, and have a lower fat content. They can be spread on bread, used in cooking. Some varieties of whey cheeses are capable of ripening.

Whey cheese is produced everywhere. The most common and famous all over the world are smoked Italian ricotta, French timber and broccio, Adyghe cheese, Norwegian brunost.

Whey cheeses also include Turkish Lore Peynir, Norwegian Muzost and Swedish Mesost, Swiss Schabzig hard cheese, Brunost. In Russia, processed cheeses are produced from whey cheese mass.

Interesting facts about cheese: usefulness, production, classification

Traditional Italian ricotta cheese | shutterstock.com


4. On the use of mold from the genus Penicillium

Some cheeses are prepared using edible molds from the genus Penicillium. Such cheeses can have a moldy crust such as brie, hermelin and camembert, or they can be infused with blue-green mold (so-called blue cheeses), such as Roquefort and Gorgonzola.

There is a legend about the origin of blue cheese, which tells how one day, due to his inattention, a shepherd forgot a piece of cheese in a cave. When he returned for it, he found it completely covered in mold. The shepherd tried this cheese and was amazed by the unusual taste. This is how the production of moldy cheeses began.

Interesting facts about cheese: usefulness, production, classification



5. By the effect of smoking

Some cheeses are smoked after cooking, to give the cheese a special taste and aroma and to improve resistance to spoilage during storage. The most famous representatives of such cheeses in Russia are smoked suluguni and sausage cheese.

Interesting facts about cheese: usefulness, production, classification



Production and consumption of cheese in the world

Cheese is one of the main agricultural end products. The United States is the largest producer of cheese, accounting for approximately 30% of the world's production, followed by Germany and France.

The largest exporter of cheese in monetary terms is France; but by weight – Germany. Among the top 10 exporters, only Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Australia focus their cheese industry mainly on export: these countries send 95%, 90%, 72% and 65% of their products to the world market, respectively. The United States, the world's largest producer, is virtually nonexistent as most of the cheese produced is consumed domestically.

Germany is the largest importer of cheese, followed by the UK and Italy in second and third place.

Greece is the world leader in cheese consumption – more than 31 kg of cheese per year per person. Emmental cheese (used mainly as an ingredient) and Camembert are the most common cheeses in France, which has the second highest per capita cheese consumption in the world (approximately 26 kg per person per year). Iceland is the third largest consumer with approximately 25 kg per person. In the US, cheese consumption is growing rapidly, and almost tripled between 1970 and 2003. Mozzarella is America's favorite cheese, mainly because it's one of the main ingredients in pizza.

Interesting facts about cheese: usefulness, production, classification



Other interesting cheese facts

  • Collecting cheese labels is called tyrosemiophilia.
  • There is a special law in France, it is called the “Law on Appellations Controlled by Origin”. According to this law, cheese, whose name comes from the geographical region of France, can only be produced in this very region of France. Today there are 36 such cheeses.
  • The largest head of cheese was made in 1988 in the USA. Her weight was 18171 kg. In Russia, the largest head of cheese weighing 721 kg was made in the Altai Territory and presented at the Cheese Festival in Barnaul on September 14, 2007.
  • Most Chinese are disgusted when they see ordinary cheese being eaten.
  • According to the Daily Mail, cheese contains the amino acid tryptophan, which helps relieve stress.
  • In English, the word cheese (cheese) when pronounced stretches the lips, forming a semblance of a smile. A similar effect is also observed in Russian when pronouncing the words “iris”, “kishmish”, “crisis”, etc. The effect is used when shooting portraits in photography.
  • The popular belief that mice love cheese is a misconception. British researchers, after studying the diet of mice, came to the conclusion that rodents prefer foods high in sugar and without a strong odor, such as grains and fruits.
  • According to recent studies, the characteristic holes in Swiss cheeses are formed not due to the activity of lactic acid bacteria, but through microscopic pieces of hay that get into the cheese. In recent years, thanks to the mechanization of the milking process, the number of such particles has decreased, which is why there are fewer holes in cheeses. We will cover this in more detail in our next article.