Nobody really knows when cheese making started. Several myths describe how cheese making originated with one of the most popular legends dating back 4,000 years ago. It describes an Arab trader who had to cross the desert and he carried milk in a pouch made from a sheep’s stomach. Since there was rennet in the lining of the pouch, and with the heat generated by the sun, the milk separated into whey and curd. When he tasted the whey in the evening, he found that it satisfied his thirst, and the curd his hunger.
According to recent findings by the research group of Richard Evershed from the University of Bristol, cheese making dates back to the Neolithic period, much before the Arab trader story. His group found traces of dairy fat in ancient ceramic fragments, supposedly used as cheese-strainers, in Poland, which suggest that people have been making cheese in Europe for up to 7,500 years.
However, some of the cheeses we know today, like Gouda, Parmesan, and Cheddar, have their beginning in the Middle Ages.
The mass production of rennet is said to have started around 1860 and industrial cheese production followed in the 20th century.
Types of Cheeses
Considering that cheese is made from a single ingredient, milk, how is it possible to have so many different types of this product? There are many factors affecting cheese making, from the milk source and its quality to several factors involved during production.