The history of cheese by Craxi Queso.

The history of cheese.

Cheese, almost everyone eats it. But when did people start making cheese?

Extremely aged cheese was found in a 3,300 year-old Egyptian tomb. In the tomb of Ptahmes, who was mayor of Memphis some 13 centuries BC, archaeologists have found, among other things, a broken jar with a rock-hard whitish substance and a piece of linen. It was possibly used to cover or preserve the contents. Modern techniques have now shown that the jar contained an extremely aged cheese.

To date, no previous evidence of cheese production in the Middle East has been found.

The history of cheese in Europe.

Cheese has been made in Europe for a long time. About six thousand years ago, nomads probably accidentally discovered how to turn milk into cheese. At that time, milk was often stored in the stomachs of calves, and during journeys, this milk was churned back and forth in the stomach. The lining of a calf’s stomach naturally contains enzymes, which during the journey transform the sour milk into a solid part (curd, or cheese) and a liquid part (whey). And so, along the way, you got a dairy product that you could keep and eat.

The earliest evidence of the history of cheesemaking in Europe comes from Poland.

In 2011, it was discovered in Poland that cheese was already being made there 7,000 years ago. Polish and British scientists in the Polish region of Kuyavia found pieces of pottery with very small food remains. These remains were analysed and found to be cheese. Small holes were also found in the pottery. It was therefore suspected for some time that these were so-called cheese sieves. This assumption now seems to be correct.

The discovery in Poland shows that the inhabitants of that area were already eating cheese at least 7,500 years ago. The discovery of cheese was of great importance to mankind, partly because it made it possible to preserve dairy products for longer. At that time, people were lactose intolerant and, because cheese is low in lactose, they could still eat a nutritious dairy product.

The history of cheese in the Netherlands and Spain.

From the clay pots that have been found, it is clear that cheese was already being made in the Netherlands in prehistoric times. Around 800 B.C., people made cheese using pots with holes in which the curd could drain and dry.

Even Julius Caesar noted in his diary of 57 BC that agriculture was scarce in the area (the Netherlands) and that cheese, milk, and meat were on the menu.

The history of cheese in Spain.

Cheese-making has a particularly long tradition in Spain. Archaeologists have found evidence that a cheese very similar to Manchego was already being produced several centuries before Christ. Each region of Spain has developed its own style of cheese over time, depending on the terrain, animal species, flora, and climate. Thus, Spain has more than one hundred types of cheese.

Over the years a wide range of sheep’s milk cheeses has developed in the dry interior of Spain. This while, in more recent history, the richer pastures and green mountains of the northern coast and some of the Spanish islands began to produce creamy cow’s milk cheeses. Throughout history, the goat was the main source of dairy products for the common people. As a result, fresh goat’s cheese was in great demand throughout Spain.

Less is known about the manufacture of butter than about the manufacture of cheese. The oldest churns date from the beginning of time. Butter was possibly made in leather bags that were moved/shaken by hanging them from farm animals. Little is also known about products such as yoghurt, for which few specific tools are needed.

The history of cheese, prehistoric earthenware pot for cheese making
Prehistoric earthenware pot for making cheese. Photo: National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden.

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