Many things affect the form, texture, colour and flavour of a cheese. These include the milk (cow or goat), if the milk has been pasteurized, the amount of butterfat, bacteria and mold in the cheese, how the cheese is made, how much fat is in the cheese, and how old the cheese is.
Cheese is made using milk. The milk of cows, goats, and sheep are most popular. Buffalo, camel, donkey and even hippopotamus milk can also be used. Cheese makers usually cook the milk in large pots. Most cheeses are acidified by bacteria. This bacteria turns milk sugars (such as lactose) into lactic acid.
Salt is added, and a substance from the stomach of young cows called rennet. This curdles the cheese and makes it solid. Some makers do not add rennet, but curdle the cheese in other ways. Vegetarian alternatives to rennet are made by fermentation of a fungus called Mucor miehei. Other alternatives use species of the Cynara thistle family.
Other ingredients are added and the cheese is usually aged for a varied length of time.
There are many different ways to classify cheeses. Some ways include:
- How long the cheese was aged
- The texture of the cheese. These include Hard, Soft and Softer.
- How the cheese was made
- What type of milk was used to make the cheese. This is mainly what animal the milk comes from, such as cows, sheep, and goats. The diet of the animal can also affect the type of cheese made from its milk.
- How much fat is in the cheese
- What color the cheese is (common colors are yellow, and white)
There are also man-made foods that some people use instead of cheese. These are called Cheese analogues.
Different types of cheese include:
- "The history of cheese: from an ancient nomad's horseback to today's luxury cheese cart". The Nibble. Lifestyle Direct. Retrieved 2012-02-09.
- Jenkins, Steven 1996. Cheese Primer. Workman Publishing Company. ISBN 0894807625
Media related to Cheese at Wikimedia Commons