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Blue Stilton, a fine traditional English cheese.

Cheese is a solidified dairy product. Cheese making starts with the solidification of milk proteins, usually by the addition of rennet (a mixture of enzymes) or an edible acid, which produces curds. For most types of cheese the curds is separated from the liquid, the whey, and then aged, sometimes for many years. Salt is also often an ingredient in cheese recipes.

Sources Used to Make Cheese

Most cheese is made from cow's milk, although technically, any large mammal's milk can be used. Some common sources of milk for making cheese other than cows include:

Cheese History

France is especially renowned as a cheese producer, and their president Charles de Gaulle famously said : "How can a country with 300 different kinds of cheese agree on anything?". However, many French cheeses are made from unpasteurised milk and their transport across international borders is therefore forbidden for health reasons. Certain French cheeses (such as Epoisses) are so smelly that their carriage even on French public transport is also banned.[Citation Needed]

It is most likely that the invention of cheesemaking was a way of preserving excess milk for leaner times.


There are literally thousands of varieties of cheese made in the world today. The best selection with more than thousand varieties is offered in the Kaufhaus des Westen, Berlin, Germany [1]. Some well known varieties are:

Hard cheeses

  • Cheddar (A hard red or white cheese, originally from the English West country, but also now made worldwide in countries including Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and Scotland)
  • Parmesan (Italian very hard cheese.)
  • Romano (Another Italian hard cheese)
  • Gouda (Dutch cheese, with a yellow wax rind.)
  • Monterey Jack (American.)
  • Mozzarella (A very soft hard cheese from Italy, traditionally made with buffalo's milk.)
  • Emmenthal (A Swiss cheese, characterised by large holes.)
  • Cheshire (A hard red or white cheese, more crumbly than Cheddar with a salty taste. Made in Cheshire or North Shropshire. Mrs Appleby's Cheshire has won international renown.)

Blue cheeses

  • Blue Stilton (English crumbly blue cheese, a non-blue variety also exists.)
  • Roquefort (The French king of blue cheeses, made from sheep's milk in a cave.)
  • Cheshire Blue (Mild blue cheese with a salty flavour)

Soft cheeses

  • Feta (Soft and crumbly Greek goat's milk cheese)
  • Brie (a French soft cheese, not particularly smelly.)
  • Camembert (a French soft cheese, fairly smelly.)
  • Muenster (a French soft cheese)
  • Cottage cheese (a very runny soft curd cheese).

Synthetic cheeses

  • American (a very mild ersatz cheddar, processed for a smooth texture, and often delivered by unusual methods, such as in cans, as strings, or as a spray.

Non-cheese cheeses

Head cheese, known as brawn in the UK and by other names in other parts of the world, is made from meat taken from the head of an animal - pigs, calves and cows are used - that might otherwise remain uneaten for aesthetic reasons. It sometimes includes meat from other normally unappetising areas such as the feet or organs. The meat is chopped or shredded and set in gelatine. It is usually eaten cold or at room temperature as a luncheon meat. In the southern states of the US this is sometimes also known as sousemeat and pickled in vinegar.

Lemon cheese is another name for lemon curd in the UK. Fruit cheeses are sometimes made with other citrus fruit.

Cheese in Culture

In England, the traditional sport of cheese-rolling remains locally popular. [2]

James McIntyre, a Canadian poet, was fond of writing poems and odes to cheese. This is not because he thought the subject was funny, or ironic. Rather, McIntyre saw cheese production in Canada as a symbol of the strong growth in the Canadian economy. Many people today find his works quite humorous, but McIntyre's "Ode on the Mammoth Cheese" is considered by most poetry scholars not only his best work, but his ultimate achievement.

The original family name of comedian John Cleese was Cheese, but was changed to Cleese by his father. Cleese is famous, of course, for playing the frustrated customer in the Cheese Shop sketch on the Monty Python's Flying Circus television show.

Cheese is considered by some as a palliative for various internal diseases.