Almost everything tastes better with cheese. And, it’s good for you, too.

Today, I thought I’d put together some fun cheese history and facts.

Cheese has been around a long time. History shows about 4,000 years. Its beginning coincides with when people started to breed animals and process their milk. Usually, cheese is made from the cows’ milk but can also be made from sheep, goats, buffalo, reindeer, camels and yaks.  It is very nutritious and is made from the curd of the milk, coagulated by rennet, separated from the whey, and pressed in a vat, hoop or mold.

It is said the first type of cheese to arrive in the America was goat cheese, with first mass production of cheese in 1851 in New York. Demands for cheese have risen steadily ever since.

The variety of cheeses include: fresh soft, fresh firm, soft, semi-soft, semi-hard, hard, semi-firm and firm.

Artisan and Farmstead Cheese Definitions

Artisan – or artisanal – implies that the cheese is made in smaller batches by hand, using less mechanization, with particular attention paid to the tradition of the cheesemakers’ art.

As defined by the American Cheese Society, farmstead cheese must be made from the milk of the farmer’s own herd or flock on the farm where the animals are raised.

I found the following cheese facts at Cheese.com that can help you enjoy your cheese just a little more.

Serving and Storage Tips

  • Unpasteurized cheese with a range of flavors should not be sliced until purchase. Otherwise it will start to lose its subtlety and aroma.
  • Keep the cheese in conditions in which it matures. Hard, semi-hard and semi-soft cheeses are stored in the temperatures from around 46 to 55 Fahrenheit.
  • Keep cheese wrapped in the waxed paper, and not a cling film, and place it in a loose-fitting food-bag to keep the humidity and to maintain the circulation of air.
  • Wrap bleu cheeses all over as mold spores spread readily not only to other cheeses but also to everything nearby.
  • Chilled cheeses should be taken out of the refrigerator one and a half or two hours before serving to allow the flavor and aroma to develop.
  • Cheeses contain living organisms that must not be cut off from air; yet, it is important to not let cheese dry out.
  • Do not store cheese with other strong-smelling foods. As a cheese breathes it will absorb other aromas and may spoil.

 How to Cut Cheese

  • The way a cheese is cut depends largely on its shape and size. The most important thing to keep in mind is to divide cheese so that everybody has an equal share of the inside and outside.
  • Keep in mind not to saw the cheese, but cut it in one fluid motion.
  • Use wired cheese cutters to cut soft cheese.
  • Allow the cheese to attain room temperature before cutting, as it will be softer and easier to cut.
  • With extremely soft cheeses, it is better to keep it in its jar and to spoon it out.
  • Use specialized knives while cutting different types of cheeses, so as not to contaminate them.

 How to Pair Cheese and Wine?

Both cheese and wine, with their centuries-old traditions, are products that are frequently enjoyed together. The great advantage of this union is that they are both foods that can be enjoyed in their natural state, with little or no preparation, making them an ideal choice for picnics and quick snacks.

There are no hard and fast rules about which wine to pair with a particular cheese. The best selections are almost always based on individual tastes. However, we can offer you following general guidelines:

  • As a rule, the whiter and fresher the cheese the crisper and fruitier the wine should be.
  • White wines go better with many cheeses than reds.
  • If a red wine is considered, stay with fruity, light reds – or dry, fresh red wines for soft cheeses, especially goat cheese.
  • A smooth, fatty cheese may go very well with a similarly smooth, slightly oily wine.
  • Sweet wine contrasts very well with a cheese with high acidity.
  • A wine with good acidity may be complemented by very salted cheeses.
  • Dry champagnes are brilliant combination with bloomy white rinds.
  • The cheeses can also be matched with beer or cider.
  • Try regional combinations – both cheese and wine from the same region.

If you’ve always wanted to learn more about cheese and cheese making, consider checking out the North Carolina Cheese Trail.

This site will show you where dairy farms, creameries and cheesemakers are across our entire state, along with retail locations for each farm.

Bring your bounty home and make this marvelous Cheese Straws recipe found on Southern Living. This yields about 10 dozen.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 (1-pound) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Preparation

Beat first 5 ingredients at medium speed with a heavy-duty stand mixer until blended. Gradually add flour, beating just until combined.

Use a cookie press with a star-shaped disk to shape mixture into long ribbons, following manufacturer’s instructions, on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Cut ribbons into 2-inch pieces.

Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

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