1 Akizshura

National Cheese Day Essay

For other uses, see Cheese (disambiguation).

Cheese is a dairy product derived from milk that is produced in a wide range of flavors, textures, and forms by coagulation of the milk protein casein. It comprises proteins and fat from milk, usually the milk of cows, buffalo, goats, or sheep. During production, the milk is usually acidified, and adding the enzyme rennet causes coagulation. The solids are separated and pressed into final form.[1] Some cheeses have molds on the rind, the outer layer, or throughout. Most cheeses melt at cooking temperature.

Hundreds of types of cheese from various countries are produced. Their styles, textures and flavors depend on the origin of the milk (including the animal's diet), whether they have been pasteurized, the butterfat content, the bacteria and mold, the processing, and aging. Herbs, spices, or wood smoke may be used as flavoring agents. The yellow to red color of many cheeses, such as Red Leicester, is produced by adding annatto. Other ingredients may be added to some cheeses, such as black pepper, garlic, chives or cranberries.

For a few cheeses, the milk is curdled by adding acids such as vinegar or lemon juice. Most cheeses are acidified to a lesser degree by bacteria, which turn milk sugars into lactic acid, then the addition of rennet completes the curdling. Vegetarian alternatives to rennet are available; most are produced by fermentation of the fungusMucor miehei, but others have been extracted from various species of the Cynara thistle family. Cheesemakers near a dairy region may benefit from fresher, lower-priced milk, and lower shipping costs.

Cheese is valued for its portability, long life, and high content of fat, protein, calcium, and phosphorus. Cheese is more compact and has a longer shelf life than milk, although how long a cheese will keep depends on the type of cheese; labels on packets of cheese often claim that a cheese should be consumed within three to five days of opening. Generally speaking, hard cheeses, such as parmesan last longer than soft cheeses, such as Brie or goat's milk cheese. The long storage life of some cheeses, especially when encased in a protective rind, allows selling when markets are favorable.

There is some debate as to the best way to store cheese, but some experts[who?] say that wrapping it in cheese paper provides optimal results. Cheese paper is coated in a porous plastic on the inside, and the outside has a layer of wax. This specific combination of plastic on the inside and wax on the outside protects the cheese by allowing condensation on the cheese to be wicked away while preventing moisture from within the cheese escaping.[2]

A specialist seller of cheese is sometimes known as a cheesemonger. Becoming an expert in this field requires some formal education and years of tasting and hands-on experience, much like becoming an expert in wine or cuisine. The cheesemonger is responsible for all aspects of the cheese inventory: selecting the cheese menu, purchasing, receiving, storage, and ripening.[3]


The word cheese comes from Latincaseus,[4] from which the modern word casein is also derived. The earliest source is from the proto-Indo-European root *kwat-, which means "to ferment, become sour". The word cheese comes from chese (in Middle English) and cīese or cēse (in Old English). Similar words are shared by other West Germanic languages—West Frisiantsiis, Dutchkaas, GermanKäse, Old High Germanchāsi—all from the reconstructed West-Germanic form *kāsī, which in turn is an early borrowing from Latin.

The Online Etymological Dictionary states that "cheese" comes from "Old English cyse (West Saxon), cese (Anglian)...from West Germanic *kasjus (source also of Old Saxon kasi, Old High German chasi, German Käse, Middle Dutch case, Dutch kaas), from Latin caseus [for] "cheese" (source of Italian cacio, Spanish queso, Irish caise, Welsh caws)."[5] The Online Etymological Dictionary states that the word is of "...unknown origin; perhaps from a PIE root *kwat- "to ferment, become sour" (source also of Prakrit chasi "buttermilk;" Old Church Slavonic kvasu "leaven; fermented drink," kyselu "sour," -kyseti "to turn sour;" Czech kysati "to turn sour, rot;" Sanskrit kvathati "boils, seethes;" Gothic hwaþjan "foam"). Also compare fromage. Old Norse ostr, Danish ost, Swedish ost are related to Latin ius "broth, sauce, juice.'"[5]

When the Romans began to make hard cheeses for their legionaries' supplies, a new word started to be used: formaticum, from caseus formatus, or "molded cheese" (as in "formed", not "moldy"). It is from this word that the Frenchfromage, proper Italianformaggio, Catalanformatge, Bretonfourmaj, and Occitanfromatge (or formatge) are derived. Of the Romance languages, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, Tuscan and Southern Italian dialects use words derived from caseus (queso, queijo, caș and caso for example). The word cheese itself is occasionally employed in a sense that means "molded" or "formed". Head cheese uses the word in this sense. The term "cheese" is also used as a noun, verb and adjective in a number of figurative expressions (e.g., "the big cheese", "to be cheesed off" and "cheesy lyrics").[citation needed]


Main article: History of cheese


Cheese is an ancient food whose origins predate recorded history. There is no conclusive evidence indicating where cheesemaking originated, either in Europe, Central Asia or the Middle East, but the practice had spread within Europe prior to Roman times and, according to Pliny the Elder, had become a sophisticated enterprise by the time the Roman Empire came into being.[6]

The earliest evidence of cheese-making in the archaeological record dates back to 5,500 BCE, in what is now Kujawy, Poland, where strainers with milk fats molecules have been found.[7] Earliest proposed dates for the origin of cheesemaking range from around 8000 BCE, when sheep were first domesticated. Since animal skins and inflated internal organs have, since ancient times, provided storage vessels for a range of foodstuffs, 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 in the milk being turned to curd and whey by the rennet from the stomach. There is a legend – with variations – about the discovery of cheese by an Arab trader who used this method of storing milk.[8]

Cheesemaking may have begun independently of this by the pressing and salting of curdled milk to preserve it. Observation that the effect of making cheese in an animal stomach gave more solid and better-textured curds may have led to the deliberate addition of rennet. Early archeological evidence of Egyptian cheese has been found in Egyptian tomb murals, dating to about 2000 BCE.[9] The earliest cheeses were likely to have been quite sour and salty, similar in texture to rustic cottage cheese or feta, a crumbly, flavorful Greek cheese. Cheese produced in Europe, where climates are cooler than the Middle East, required less salt for preservation. With less salt and acidity, the cheese became a suitable environment for useful microbes and molds, giving aged cheeses their respective flavors. The earliest ever discovered preserved cheese was found in the Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang, China, and it dates back as early as 1615 BCE.[10]

Ancient Greece and Rome

Ancient Greek mythology credited Aristaeus with the discovery of cheese. Homer's Odyssey (8th century BCE) describes the Cyclops making and storing sheep's and goats' milk cheese (translation by Samuel Butler):

We soon reached his cave, but he was out shepherding, so we went inside and took stock of all that we could see. His cheese-racks were loaded with cheeses, and he had more lambs and kids than his pens could hold...

When he had so done he sat down and milked his ewes and goats, all in due course, and then let each of them have her own young. He curdled half the milk and set it aside in wicker strainers.

By Roman times, cheese was an everyday food and cheesemaking a mature art. Columella's De Re Rustica (circa 65 CE) details a cheesemaking process involving rennet coagulation, pressing of the curd, salting, and aging. Pliny'sNatural History (77 CE) devotes a chapter (XI, 97) to describing the diversity of cheeses enjoyed by Romans of the early Empire. He stated that the best cheeses came from the villages near Nîmes, but did not keep long and had to be eaten fresh. Cheeses of the Alps and Apennines were as remarkable for their variety then as now. A Ligurian cheese was noted for being made mostly from sheep's milk, and some cheeses produced nearby were stated to weigh as much as a thousand pounds each. Goats' milk cheese was a recent taste in Rome, improved over the "medicinal taste" of Gaul's similar cheeses by smoking. Of cheeses from overseas, Pliny preferred those of Bithynia in Asia Minor.

Post-Roman Europe

As Romanized populations encountered unfamiliar newly settled neighbors, bringing their own cheese-making traditions, their own flocks and their own unrelated words for cheese, cheeses in Europe diversified further, with various locales developing their own distinctive traditions and products. As long-distance trade collapsed, only travelers would encounter unfamiliar cheeses: Charlemagne's first encounter with a white cheese that had an edible rind forms one of the constructed anecdotes of Notker's Life of the Emperor.

The British Cheese Board claims that Britain has approximately 700 distinct local cheeses;[11]France and Italy have perhaps 400 each. (A French proverb holds there is a different French cheese for every day of the year, and Charles de Gaulle once asked "how can you govern a country in which there are 246 kinds of cheese?")[12] Still, the advancement of the cheese art in Europe was slow during the centuries after Rome's fall. Many cheeses today were first recorded in the late Middle Ages or after—cheeses like Cheddar around 1500, Parmesan in 1597, Gouda in 1697, and Camembert in 1791.[13]

In 1546 The Proverbs of John Heywood claimed "the moon is made of a greene cheese." (Greene may refer here not to the color, as many now think, but to being new or unaged.)[14] Variations on this sentiment were long repeated and NASA exploited this myth for an April Fools' Day spoof announcement in 2006.[15]

Modern era

Until its modern spread along with European culture, cheese was nearly unheard of in east Asian cultures, in the pre-Columbian Americas, and only had limited use in sub-Mediterranean Africa, mainly being widespread and popular only in Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and areas influenced by those cultures. But with the spread, first of European imperialism, and later of Euro-American culture and food, cheese has gradually become known and increasingly popular worldwide.

The first factory for the industrial production of cheese opened in Switzerland in 1815, but large-scale production first found real success in the United States. Credit usually goes to Jesse Williams, a dairy farmer from Rome, New York, who in 1851 started making cheese in an assembly-line fashion using the milk from neighboring farms. Within decades, hundreds of such dairy associations existed.[16]

The 1860s saw the beginnings of mass-produced rennet, and by the turn of the century scientists were producing pure microbial cultures. Before then, bacteria in cheesemaking had come from the environment or from recycling an earlier batch's whey; the pure cultures meant a more standardized cheese could be produced.[17]

Factory-made cheese overtook traditional cheesemaking in the World War II era, and factories have been the source of most cheese in America and Europe ever since.


In 2014, world production of cheese from whole cow milk was 18.7 million tonnes, with the United States accounting for 29% (5.4 million tonnes) of the world total followed by Germany, France and Italy as major producers (table).[18]

Other 2014 world totals for processed cheese include:[18]

  • from skimmed cow milk, 2.4 million tonnes (leading country, Germany, 845,500 tonnes)
  • from goat milk, 523,040 tonnes (leading country, South Sudan, 110,750 tonnes)
  • from sheep milk, 680,302 tonnes (leading country, Greece, 125,000 tonnes)
  • from buffalo milk, 282,127 tonnes (leading country, Egypt, 254,000 tonnes)

During 2015, Germany, France, Netherlands and Italy exported 10-14% of their produced cheese.[19] The United States was a marginal exporter (5.3% of total cow milk production), as most of its output was for the domestic market.[19]


France, Iceland, Finland, Denmark and Germany were the highest consumers of cheese in 2014, averaging 25 kg (55 lb) per person.[20]


Main article: Cheesemaking


A required step in cheesemaking is separating the milk into solid curds and liquid whey. Usually this is done by acidifying (souring) the milk and adding rennet. The acidification can be accomplished directly by the addition of an acid, such as vinegar, in a few cases (paneer, queso fresco). More commonly starter bacteria are employed instead which convert milk sugars into lactic acid. The same bacteria (and the enzymes they produce) also play a large role in the eventual flavor of aged cheeses. Most cheeses are made with starter bacteria from the Lactococcus, Lactobacillus, or Streptococcus families. Swiss starter cultures also include Propionibacter shermani, which produces carbon dioxide gas bubbles during aging, giving Swiss cheese or Emmental its holes (called "eyes").

Some fresh cheeses are curdled only by acidity, but most cheeses also use rennet. Rennet sets the cheese into a strong and rubbery gel compared to the fragile curds produced by acidic coagulation alone. It also allows curdling at a lower acidity—important because flavor-making bacteria are inhibited in high-acidity environments. In general, softer, smaller, fresher cheeses are curdled with a greater proportion of acid to rennet than harder, larger, longer-aged varieties.

While rennet was traditionally produced via extraction from the inner mucosa of the fourth stomach chamber of slaughtered young, unweaned calves, most rennet used today in cheesemaking is produced recombinantly.[21] The majority of the applied chymosin is retained in the whey and, at most, may be present in cheese in trace quantities. In ripe cheese, the type and provenance of chymosin used in production cannot be determined.[21]

Curd processing

At this point, the cheese has set into a very moist gel. Some soft cheeses are now essentially complete: they are drained, salted, and packaged. For most of the rest, the curd is cut into small cubes. This allows water to drain from the individual pieces of curd.

Some hard cheeses are then heated to temperatures in the range of 35–55 °C (95–131 °F). This forces more whey from the cut curd. It also changes the taste of the finished cheese, affecting both the bacterial culture and the milk chemistry. Cheeses that are heated to the higher temperatures are usually made with thermophilic starter bacteria that survive this step—either Lactobacilli or Streptococci.

Salt has roles in cheese besides adding a salty flavor. It preserves cheese from spoiling, draws moisture from the curd, and firms cheese’s texture in an interaction with its proteins. Some cheeses are salted from the outside with dry salt or brine washes. Most cheeses have the salt mixed directly into the curds.

Other techniques influence a cheese's texture and flavor. Some examples are :

  • Stretching: (Mozzarella, Provolone) The curd is stretched and kneaded in hot water, developing a stringy, fibrous body.
  • Cheddaring: (Cheddar, other English cheeses) The cut curd is repeatedly piled up, pushing more moisture away. The curd is also mixed (or milled) for a long time, taking the sharp edges off the cut curd pieces and influencing the final product's texture.
  • Washing: (Edam, Gouda, Colby) The curd is washed in warm water, lowering its acidity and making for a milder-tasting cheese.

Most cheeses achieve their final shape when the curds are pressed into a mold or form. The harder the cheese, the more pressure is applied. The pressure drives out moisture—the molds are designed to allow water to escape—and unifies the curds into a single solid body.


Main article: Cheese ripening

A newborn cheese is usually salty yet bland in flavor and, for harder varieties, rubbery in texture. These qualities are sometimes enjoyed—cheese curds are eaten on their own—but normally cheeses are left to rest under controlled conditions. This aging period (also called ripening, or, from the French, affinage) lasts from a few days to several years. As a cheese ages, microbes and enzymes transform texture and intensify flavor. This transformation is largely a result of the breakdown of casein proteins and milkfat into a complex mix of amino acids, amines, and fatty acids.

Some cheeses have additional bacteria or molds intentionally introduced before or during aging. In traditional cheesemaking, these microbes might be already present in the aging room; they are simply allowed to settle and grow on the stored cheeses. More often today, prepared cultures are used, giving more consistent results and putting fewer constraints on the environment where the cheese ages. These cheeses include soft ripened cheeses such as Brie and Camembert, blue cheeses such as Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola, and rind-washed cheeses such as Limburger.


Main article: Types of cheese

There are many types of cheese, with around 500 different varieties recognized by the International Dairy Federation,[22] more than 400 identified by Walter and Hargrove, more than 500 by Burkhalter, and more than 1,000 by Sandine and Elliker.[23] The varieties may be grouped or classified into types according to criteria such as length of ageing, texture, methods of making, fat content, animal milk, country or region of origin, etc.—with these criteria either being used singly or in combination,[24] but with no single method being universally used.[25] The method most commonly and traditionally used is based on moisture content, which is then further discriminated by fat content and curing or ripening methods.[22][26] Some attempts have been made to rationalise the classification of cheese—a scheme was proposed by Pieter Walstra which uses the primary and secondary starter combined with moisture content, and Walter and Hargrove suggested classifying by production methods which produces 18 types, which are then further grouped by moisture content.[22]

Moisture content (soft to hard)

Categorizing cheeses by firmness is a common but inexact practice. The lines between "soft", "semi-soft", "semi-hard", and "hard" are arbitrary, and many types of cheese are made in softer or firmer variations. The main factor that controls cheese hardness is moisture content, which depends largely on the pressure with which it is packed into molds, and on aging time.

Fresh, whey and stretched curd cheeses

The main factor in the categorization of these cheeses is their age. Fresh cheeses without additional preservatives can spoil in a matter of days.

Content (double cream, goat, ewe and water buffalo)

Some cheeses are categorized by the source of the milk used to produce them or by the added fat content of the milk from which they are produced. While most of the world's commercially available cheese is made from cows' milk, many parts of the world also produce cheese from goats and sheep. Double cream cheeses are soft cheeses of cows' milk enriched with cream so that their fat content is 60% or, in the case of triple creams, 75%. The use of the terms "double" or "triple" is not meant to give a quantitative reference to the change in fat content, since the fat content of whole cows' milk is 3%-4%.

Soft-ripened and blue-vein

There are at least three main categories of cheese in which the presence of mold is a significant feature: soft ripened cheeses, washed rind cheeses and blue cheeses.

Processed cheeses

Processed cheese is made from traditional cheese and emulsifying salts, often with the addition of milk, more salt, preservatives, and food coloring. It is inexpensive, consistent, and melts smoothly. It is sold packaged and either pre-sliced or unsliced, in a number of varieties. It is also available in aerosol cans in some countries.

Cooking and eating

At refrigerator temperatures, the fat in a piece of cheese is as hard as unsoftened butter, and its protein structure is stiff as well. Flavor and odor compounds are less easily liberated when cold. For improvements in flavor and texture, it is widely advised that cheeses be allowed to warm up to room temperature before eating. If the cheese is further warmed, to 26–32 °C (79–90 °F), the fats will begin to "sweat out" as they go beyond soft to fully liquid.[27]

Above room temperatures, most hard cheeses melt. Rennet-curdled cheeses have a gel-like protein matrix that is broken down by heat. When enough protein bonds are broken, the cheese itself turns from a solid to a viscous liquid. Soft, high-moisture cheeses will melt at around 55 °C (131 °F), while hard, low-moisture cheeses such as Parmesan remain solid until they reach about 82 °C (180 °F).[27] Acid-set cheeses, including halloumi, paneer, some whey cheeses and many varieties of fresh goat cheese, have a protein structure that remains intact at high temperatures. When cooked, these cheeses just get firmer as water evaporates.

Some cheeses, like raclette, melt smoothly; many tend to become stringy or suffer from a separation of their fats. Many of these can be coaxed into melting smoothly in the presence of acids or starch. Fondue, with wine providing the acidity, is a good example of a smoothly melted cheese dish.[27] Elastic stringiness is a quality that is sometimes enjoyed, in dishes including pizza and Welsh rarebit. Even a melted cheese eventually turns solid again, after enough moisture is cooked off. The saying "you can't melt cheese twice" (meaning "some things can only be done once") refers to the fact that oils leach out during the first melting and are gone, leaving the non-meltable solids behind.

As its temperature continues to rise, cheese will brown and eventually burn. Browned, partially burned cheese has a particular distinct flavor of its own and is frequently used in cooking (e.g., sprinkling atop items before baking them).


A cheeseboard (or cheese course) may be served at the end of a meal, either replacing or following dessert.[28] A cheeseboard typically comprises portions of contrasting cheese with accompaniments such as crackers, grapes, nuts, celery and chutney. Port or other dessert wines may be served with a cheeseboard.

Nutrition and health

The nutritional value of cheese varies widely. Cottage cheese may consist of 4% fat and 11% protein while some whey cheeses are 15% fat and 11% protein, and triple-crème cheeses are 36% fat and 7% protein.[29] In general, cheese is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of calcium, protein, phosphorus, sodium and saturated fat. A 28-gram (one ounce) serving of cheddar cheese contains about 7 grams (0.25 oz) of protein and 202 milligrams of calcium.[29] Nutritionally, cheese is essentially concentrated milk: it takes about 200 grams (7.1 oz) of milk to provide that much protein, and 150 grams (5.3 oz) to equal the calcium.[29]


[30] Ch. = Choline; Ca = Calcium; Fe = Iron; Mg = Magnesium; P = Phosphorus; K = Potassium; Na = Sodium; Zn = Zinc; Cu = Copper; Mn = Manganese; Se = Selenium;

Note : All nutrient values including protein are in %DV per 100 grams of the food item except for Macronutrients. Source : Nutritiondata.self.com

Neonatal infection and death

Cheese has the potential for promoting the growth of Listeriabacteria. Listeria monocytogenes can also cause serious infection in an infant and pregnant woman and can be transmitted to her infant in utero or after birth. The infection has the potential of seriously harming or even causing the death of a preterm infant, an infant of low or very low birth weight, or an infant with an immune system deficiency or a congenital defect of the immune system. The presence of this pathogen can sometimes be determined by the symptoms that appear as a gastrointestinal illness in the mother. The mother can also acquire infection from ingesting food that contains other animal products such as, unpasteurizedmilk, delicatessen meats, and hot dogs.[31]

Heart disease

A review of the medical literature published in 2012 noted that: "Cheese consumption is the leading contributor of SF (saturated fat) in the U.S. diet, and therefore would be predicted to increase LDL-C (LDL cholesterol) and consequently increase the risk of CVD (cardiovascular disease)." It found that: "Based on results from numerous prospective observational studies and meta-analyses, most, but not all, have shown no association and in some cases an inverse relationship between the intake of milk fat containing dairy products and the risk of CVD, CHD (coronary heart disease), and stroke. A limited number of prospective cohort studies found no significant association between the intake of total full-fat dairy products and the risk of CHD or stroke....Most clinical studies showed that full-fat natural cheese, a highly fermented product, significantly lowers LDL-C compared with butter intake of equal total fat and saturated fat content."[32]


A number of food safety agencies around the world have warned of the risks of raw-milk cheeses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that soft raw-milk cheeses can cause "serious infectious diseases including listeriosis, brucellosis, salmonellosis and tuberculosis".[33] It is U.S. law since 1944 that all raw-milk cheeses (including imports since 1951) must be aged at least 60 days. Australia has a wide ban on raw-milk cheeses as well, though in recent years exceptions have been made for Swiss Gruyère, Emmental and Sbrinz, and for French Roquefort.[34] There is a trend for cheeses to be pasteurized even when not required by law.

Pregnant women may face an additional risk from cheese; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has warned pregnant women against eating soft-ripened cheeses and blue-veined cheeses, due to the listeria risk, which can cause miscarriage or harm the fetus.[35]

Cultural attitudes

Although cheese is a vital source of nutrition in many regions of the world and is extensively consumed in others, its use is not universal.

Cheese is rarely found in Southeast and East Asian cuisines, presumably for historical reasons as dairy farming has historically been rare in these regions. However, Asian sentiment against cheese is not universal. In Nepal, the Dairy Development Corporation commercially manufactures cheese made from yak milk and a hard cheese made from either cow or yak milk knows as chhurpi.[36] The national dish of Bhutan, ema datshi, is made from homemade yak or mare milk cheese and hot peppers.[37] In Yunnan, China, several ethnic minority groups produce Rushan and Rubing from cow's milk.[38] Cheese consumption may be increasing in China, with annual sales doubling from 1996 to 2003 (to a still small 30 million U.S. dollars a year).[39] Certain kinds of Chinese preserved bean curd are sometimes misleadingly referred to in English as "Chinese cheese" because of their texture and strong flavor.

Strict followers of the dietary laws of Islam and Judaism must avoid cheeses made with rennet from animals not slaughtered in a manner adhering to halal or kosher laws.[40] Both faiths allow cheese made with vegetable-based rennet or with rennet made from animals that were processed in a halal or kosher manner. Many less orthodox Jews also believe that rennet undergoes enough processing to change its nature entirely and do not consider it to ever violate kosher law. (See Cheese and kashrut.) As cheese is a dairy food, under kosher rules it cannot be eaten in the same meal with any meat.

Rennet derived from animal slaughter, and thus cheese made with animal-derived rennet, is not vegetarian. Most widely available vegetarian cheeses are made using rennet produced by fermentation of the fungusMucor miehei.[41]Vegans and other dairy-avoiding vegetarians do not eat conventional cheese, but some vegetable-based cheese substitutes (soy or almond) are used as substitutes.[41]

Even in cultures with long cheese traditions, consumers may perceive some cheeses that are especially pungent-smelling, or mold-bearing varieties such as Limburger or Roquefort, as unpalatable. Such cheeses are an acquired taste because they are processed using molds or microbiological cultures,[42] allowing odor and flavor molecules to resemble those in rotten foods. One author stated: "An aversion to the odor of decay has the obvious biological value of steering us away from possible food poisoning, so it is no wonder that an animal food that gives off whiffs of shoes and soil and the stable takes some getting used to."[27]

Collecting cheese labels is called "tyrosemiophilia".[43]

Figurative expressions

In the 19th century, "cheese" was used as a figurative way of saying "the proper thing"; this usage comes "from Urdu chiz "a thing," from Persian chiz, from Old Persian...ciš-ciy [which means] "something." The term "cheese" in this sense was "[p]icked up by [colonial] British in India by 1818 and [was also] used in the sense of "a big thing", for example in the expression "he's the real chiz".[5] The expression "big cheese" was attested in use in 1914 to mean an "important person"; this is likely "American English in origin". The expression "to cut a big cheese" was used to mean "to look important"; this figurative expression referred to the huge wheels of cheese displayed by cheese retailers as a publicity stunt.[5] The phrase "cut the cheese" also became an American slang term meaning to flatulate. The word "cheese" has also had the meaning of "an ignorant, stupid person."[5]

Other figurative meanings involve the word "cheese" used as a verb. To "cheese" is recorded as meaning to "stop (what one is doing), run off," in 1812 (this was "thieves' slang").[5] To be "cheesed off" means to be annoyed.[5] The expression "say cheese" in a photograph-taking context (when the photographer wishes the people to smile for the photo), which means "to smile" dates from 1930 (the word was probably chosen because the "ee" encourages people to make a smile).[5] The verb "cheese" was used as slang for "be quiet" in the early 19th century in Britain.[5] The fictional "...notion that the moon is made of green cheese as a type of a ridiculous assertion is from 1520s".[5] The figurative expression "to make cheeses" is an 1830s phrase referring to schoolgirls who amuse themselves by "...wheeling rapidly so one's petticoats blew out in a circle then dropping down so they came to rest inflated and resembling a wheel of cheese".[5] In video game slang "to cheese somebody" means to win a game by using a strategy that requires minimal skill and knowledge or that exploits a glitch or flaw in game design.[44]

The adjective "cheesy" has two meanings. The first is literal, and means "cheese-like"; this definition is attested to from the late 14th century (e.g., "a cheesy substance oozed from the broken jar").[5] In the late 19th century, medical writers used the term "cheesy" in a more literal sense, "to describe morbid substances found in tumors, decaying flesh, etc."[5] The adjective also has a figurative sense, meaning "cheap, inferior"; this use "... is attested from 1896, perhaps originally U.S. student slang". In the late 19th century in British slang, "cheesy" meant "fine, showy"; this use is attested to in the 1850s. In writing lyrics for pop music, rock music or musical theatre, "cheesy" is a pejorative term which means "blatantly artificial" (OED).

See also


A platter with cheese and garnishes
A piece of soft curd cheese, oven-baked to increase longevity
Cheese in a market in Italy
During industrial production of Emmental cheese, the as-yet-undrained curd is broken by rotating mixers.
Cheese factory in the Netherlands
Local cheese at an open-air market in Peru.
Average cheese consumption and rates of mortality due to cardiovascular disease or diabetes
A cheese merchant in a French market
A traditional Polish sheep's cheese market in Zakopane, Poland


How did making cheese change your life?

Well, apparently it changed a lot of lives!

We started this essay contest October 21st in our Moosletter and the deadline was December 1st.  We asked folks to write an essay (500 words or less) about how making cheese has changed their lives.  We also asked them to include a photo of themselves doing something cheese related.  The prize was our cheese press (E28).

We received 35 fabulous essays, which was way more than we ever expected.  They were all excellent, as you will see when you read them here.  It was a very difficult choice to make.  The judges did not see any of the pictures until after they had made their decision.


Taylor Luttrell-Williams

Taylor, Luttrell-Williams
Terlingua, Texas

My name is Taylor Luttrell-Williams, and I am a 14-year-old cheese maker living in Terlingua Texas, a remote border town that is home to a variety of artists and musicians. Living in the old ghost town that is Terlingua, I have acquired many skills, but the most notable to me is cheese making.  Cheese making is an art form that has truly captivated my interest and changed my life in unexpected ways.  Thanks to a book, my interest in cheese making was jump-started, and now, a year later, I produce a wide range of cheeses. For the last 7 months, I have been making cheese; traveling to a local ranch to stock up on raw cow/goat milk, and selling my products locally.

To begin with, cheese making has changed my life by bringing me closer to the community in which I live.  Thanks to the support of many Terlinguans, I have been able to successfully sell my cheese at our local Farmers Market, and have given a workshop on artisan cheese making too. Cheese making has also helped me to find commonalities with people that I might not otherwise have become acquainted with.  Most importantly, cheese making is a way in which I can give back to my town. 

Making cheese has not only brought me closer to my community, but also sparked a greater interest within me to learn more about dairy.  At school, I have been able to incorporate my love of cheese making into my passion for history and geography.  With the support of my teachers, I have brought cheese making to my class, doing demonstrations and activities (this last month, our geography class studied the Middle East/North Africa, in which I incorporated yogurt making). As for the process, I learn more and more about the science and biology of cheese making every time I make a batch!

Perhaps the most important way that cheese making has changed my life, is that I have learned something new that I want to stick with.  Although many people might think it’s odd of a fourteen year old to be making cheese, I don’t see anything wrong with it.  When I make cheese, I am helping to preserve a lost art form, and at the same time, I am building a new and unusual skill. 

In my short time as a cheese-maker, I have learned so much about the history, science, and art of making cheese.  I have become further immersed in my community, school, and have acquired a unique new skill, which I can use for the remainder of my life.  Looking back, I could never have imagined that I would be making cheese, but when I look at how cheese making has changed my life, I can conclude that it has surely been a change for the better.

35 Second Place Winners

These are all the entries in the contest.  As you will see, they were all excellent.  We are very grateful to everyone who participated.

We will be posting complete blog articles about every one of them in the next few months, so this is not the last you will hear about any of them.

These are the entries in alphabetical order:

Mike Baird

Mike Baird
Olympia, Washington

“I’ll take an aged Brie, one with a creamy center. Just how creamy do you think you can make it? Excellent, we’ll see you Thursday.”

“Amazing,” I think as I write down Katherine’s order. “How have we come so far?”

Just a year ago, my wife and I sat huddled around the wood stove during an enormous blizzard wondering when the power would come back on. We were new to the area, didn’t know any of our country neighbors and didn’t have a clue who we could ask for help unearthing our car. Jessica and I spent the first 6 months in our new home as relative hermits – longing to find connection and belonging amongst our country neighbors; too focused on remodeling the house and getting our livestock established to introduce ourselves.

Everything changed when we began making cheese. Although it started as a hobby to utilize the extra milk from our pair of Kinder goats, it wasn’t long before coworkers started noticing that I kept bringing ‘fancy’ cheese with my lunch – first panir, then gouda, brie, cheddar, camembert, manchego, cabra al vina, and, most recently,  stout-marbled cheddar (the cheese I’m making in the photo).

At first I was embarrassed when the folks in the lunch room asked to sample our cheeses. I just knew that people were being nice when they asked for seconds or inquired about how it was made. Then I started getting orders for “more of that soft stuff” and “at least 2 pounds of your purple cheese” from people at work I’d only read about in company-wide e-mails but never actually met; I knew we’d found our niche.

Soon, neighbors started asking after our goats and what we did with the milk. Word spread quickly in the community that the Bairds made their own cheese and were willing to barter cheese for services. Kevin helped chop a cord of firewood for a pound of cheddar; Amelia goat-sat for us while we were on vacation for a small wheel of parmesan; and now Katherine and her partner Elizabeth are helping train our newly adopted Goldendoodle to improve his manners for a particularly potent wheel of brie (we knew we needed help when he ate the last 5-pound batch of brie as it dried on the counter).

If you’d asked me 3 years ago, I would never have imagined I’d credit cheese making with changing my life, let alone writing an essay about it. Yet, as I sit here writing this essay, a slice of fresh pear topped with raw goat brie in my hand, I can’t help marveling at our new life in the woods. Thanks to a little word-of-mouth and a whole lot of goat cheese, we’re grateful to have found our place in the community we now call home.

Victoria Barnes with her chevre

Victoria Barnes
Homestead, Florida

If anyone ever told me I’d be living on a farm and making cheese, I’d probably roll on the floor laughing at them. However, they were the ones rolling on the floor laughing at me when it actually happened. 

Just two years ago, we bought a house in an “avocado grove” that had abandoned goats. At the closing, the man who had abandoned them and lost his farm said that he’d come for his critters, but he never did. We were up for the avocados, but the goats were definitely a “horse of another color.”

I started caring for these poor, neglected, and frightened animals and I started falling in love with them. In my desperation, I got on the Internet to find any information I could about goats, and found a brand new “goating” friend who lives in a small town 352 miles north of me. She is the one who taught me what I needed to know about goat care, as I needed it.

When my first goat started giving milk, she was the kind soul who told me about New England Cheese Making Supply Co. and directed me as I made my first order for making Chevre. I was able to buy everything I needed for pasteurizing the goat milk, sterilizing my equipment and making cheese!  As a novice this was a HUGE help. 

Today, two years later, I’m hooked on cheese making and am up for the challenge of making hard
cheeses, thanks to your amazing website filled with step by step instructions and all the supplies I need to be successful. After tasting my cheeses, my friends are not laughing anymore!

Eric Boerner

Eric Boerner 
Mount Laurel, New Jersey

My family knows no other business than that of the Hospitality Industry. As a young boy, standing at my grandfather’s hip he taught the time honored profession that produced quality food and strong family values. We made the most of a few ingredients, relying on technique and locally farmed products to sustain our family. Life was Peaceful.

Years since my grandparents passing, I’ve honored their legacy by developing as a culinarian with a focus on food requiring time, patience and philosophy
about its source. Artisan breads and charcuterie had become strengths; if it needed to be fermented, I was it’s shepherd. Cheesemaking seemed an obvious next step.

Touring some known cheesemakers in Wisconsin, I watched each share their passion, giving away pieces of themselves for the asking, wanting nothing in return – proud craftsmen. I needed to belong to this group. On my return flight, I left clothes at the airport, discarding socks and underwear for
icepacks and cheese samples in my luggage. There was much work ahead.

Research, test, fail. Then fail again. Successes were with fresh cheeses, good not great, but I remained convinced the future lay in tradition, not the new ‘magic show’ that was overtaking the profession. Chefs had become television stars, plot lines superseded cooking ability, flash replaced substance. Chemicals and additives, the very things once taught to eliminate from cooking had found themselves reintroduced for aesthetic and performance reasons. It was time to become grounded and spend some hours in a field with a hairy, lactating animal (insert marriage joke…)

My first cheese class dealt with cheese chemistry and confused me thoroughly, reaffirming how little I knew. The second was with a group of hobbyists
satisfied with lactic cheeses for the weekend party. Meh. Eventually I discovered a teacher and environment that made it personal: “The story is at least as important as the cheese,” he would remark. Ahhh, a fellow philosopher – (cue ‘cheering crowd’…)

Our process began with few tools of precision; instead we smelled, touched, tasted. Cheese became that organic mass showing off the farm and animal, relying on skill from the cheesemaker to make it sing, to tell its story.  Armed with a basic skill set, I recreated the classroom at home, and Voila, my first Camembert – a yeasty puck of molded creamy goodness. Next came a Bleu, then an Alpine.

The goal is simple – to become worthy – of a craft that has attracted the butterfat of decent people I met in the Midwest – Myron’s sense of tradition, Andy’s sense of diligence, Sid’s sense of humor – each a steward of noble culture. Life is rejuvenated thru the simplicity of a ‘different’ mother’s milk.

Grabbing a handful of fresh curds, my 3-year old daughter’s hand entwined with mine, we squeeze out the whey and it runs down our arms, off our elbows. There is cohesion – a binding of protein, generations and history.

I am again at my grandfather’s side, a young man. Peaceful.


Kristen Caldwell

Kristin Caldwell 
Bonney Lake, Washington

(Note: This is a story told through a series of

Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Got a gift certificate to a cheese making class. #soundsdifficult #noextratime #sillygift
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Off to cheese making class. #whatdidigetmyselfinto
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Loved the class! #makeallthecheese!
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Got a cheese making book from library.  #somanyideas #lotsofcheeses #needsupplies
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Returned the book to the library and bought my own copy. #willuseoften #loveamazon
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Just ordered my cheese starter pack #cantwait #homemadecheese
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Got my cheese starter pack! #timeforcheese
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Made first batch of cheese at home #learningexperience #cheesecangoterriblywrong
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Made second batch of cheese at home. Yum! #homemadecheese #success
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Made Mozzarella. Awesome addition to our homemade pizza. #sohipster
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Just ordered my advanced cheese making kit #morecheese! #whoneedsacleanhouseanyway
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Buying goats! Got a great deal – $500 for two goats. #moremilk #morecheese #rawmilkcheese
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
First milking experience. I got more milk on the ground and on me than I did in the bucket.  #damngoats #dontcry #spilledmilk
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Neighbor says I need a milking stand. Found one on @craigslist for only $150.
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Better milking today. More milk in the bucket than on me! #gettingthere #morecheesesoon
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Got this milking thing down. #readyformorecheese #chevre #goatmilkcheese
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
I want to try hard cheeses. I need a cheese press. #nothingoncraigslist #keeplooking
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Saving money and making my own cheese press.  Just got back from Lowe’s with lumber, hardware, and a saw. #morecheesesoon
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
The goats are giving lots of milk. I need more cheese recipes! #lookingforstorage
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
First hard cheese waxed and ready for aging! #needmorespaceforcheese
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Thinking about getting bees for honey and wax. #selfsutainable
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Just bought an extra freezer for our garage to freeze our extra milk. #gallonsoffrozenmilk
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Looking into cheese cave options #runningoutofspace
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
just showed up with expansion ideas for cheese cave/guest room.
Starting renovations this week!* #morespaceforcheese #ohandguests
Cheese Chick @ch33zch1ck
Cut into our first hard cheese today! Yum! So good and because it was homemade it was practically free! #savingmoney

*We did not actually expand our home to include a cheese cave. My husband saw the guest room idea for the Trojan horse that it really was.

Haydee Chavis

Haydee Chavis
Livermore, Colorado 

The hands down, biggest change in my life happened in 2009, when my husband and I moved from Los Angeles, California to a ranch in Northern Colorado that had been vacant after his father passed away.  I am – was, rather – 100% city girl.  I’ve never roped or milked anything in my life, nor thought I ever would.  Yet, as fate would have it, I wound up moving to the country to raise dairy goats because, A. The ranch needed something “agricultural” on it to avoid a sharp tax increase, and B. My husband and I love goat cheese.

We started out with six young dairy goats and about 50 books on how to raise them.  After the last doe freshened, we were swimming in goat milk, and it was clear the days of talking about making cheese were over.  The first recipes were simple – gleaned from the goat books – using vinegar to raise the curds. The results, while inconsistent, were tasty enough to encourage me to keep at it. 

I learned about rennet, cultures and cheese making suppliers, including Ricki, the Cheese Queen, who remains my #1 source for ingredients. I acquired so much stainless steel, my kitchen looked like a futuristic cityscape.  It was about this time, while I was cutting the curds for my first Gouda, that I was struck with the thought; “I’m not just making dinner here, I’m making food!” 

The distinction blew me away!  I recalled visiting pioneer homes, with hand crank butter churns and washboards on display, and, like everybody
else, I would exclaim;  “It sure was hard work to live back then!” However, there, in my kitchen with my cheese press and milk from my own
goats, I understood it wasn’t mere labor, but a way of life.  Survival depended on what you could make from what you could raise on your own
property, and, to some extent, I am doing just that.

So I’m hardly Laura Ingalls, with my milking machine, electric stove and mountain of stainless steel, but I’ve often sat down to a cheese sandwich on bread I baked myself with a glass of milk, and marveled not only at the fact that most of the ingredients originated several yards from the table where they were being eaten, but I was involved in every step of the process down to assisting with the birth of the goats whose milk went into the cheese.  For a city girl who, until recently, ate in restaurants at least three times a week, this is nothing short of miraculous. 

Family and friends are naturally curious about cheese making and when I explain the process, they are astonished, and will invariably say; “Wow! That is a lot of work!”  Funny, though; I don’t see it as work at all. It’s just what I’m doing with my life now.  I am, as the son of one of our new friends calls me, “The Goat Cheese Lady.”

Kim Ellis

Kim Ellis
Stuart, Oklahoma

Cheese making has taught me to laugh at myself and reinforce the lesson of “it’s what’s inside that counts.”

I started making cheese to have more control over the food I feed my family. Being on a budget, I started researching supplies. I decided I would put most of my money into ingredients and have my husband build my cheese press. We found the plans in a magazine and for less than $20.00 I had a press- PVC pipe, some boards, and water jugs for weight.

Miss Lilly the cow was ready and I made my first cheese. Well, it seems, that sometime during the night the boards and jugs shifted. Crooked Cow Cheese was born.  There was a lot of teasing and laughter.

My husband would show everyone my first cheese, a simple little farmhouse cheddar. I admit, I bristled at the comments, but I finally got used to the teasing. The laughs, of course, were on everyone else when we tried the cheese.  It may have looked funny, but it tasted good for my first try. I’ve been making cheese for 6 months now and I can definitely say cheese making has brought a lot of humor into my life.

Allison Garcia

Allison Garcia

My name is Allison K. Garcia, and I am entering this essay for the cheese press. Thank you for this opportunity. About five years ago, I got interested in the “real food” movement. I started going to my local farmer’s market and attempted to garden (I kill less plants every year). I took an online workshop from Jenny at Nourished Kitchen about how to cook real food and learned that it wasn’t as hard as I had imagined.

Being part Italian and from NJ, I have always loved cheese – mozzarella and ricotta being two of my favorite kinds. I live in the Shenandoah Valley
now and it is hard to find good ricotta cheese and the mozzarella isn’t as good either. I can’t remember the exact moment I found your website. My guess is it was linked from the Nourished Kitchen site. But, imagine my excitement when I saw your beginner packet and it included recipes for mozzarella and ricotta cheese!

Leave a Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *